I got a call one Sunday from the responding officer at the scene of a fatality crash
, who informed me that this brother had died. The call was a miracle, as news of his death would be hushed due to cartel involvement, even though it happened the same weekend as the much publicized kidnapping
of four Americans in nearby Matamoros. Pastor Walicki was an alumnus of Rhema Bible Training Center (1983), considered the sister school of my alma mater
, Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Despite our common roots and both of us working in many of the same areas of the jungle south, mountainous Huasteca
, and especially the state of Tamaulipas on Mexico's Gulf coast, I had never met Brother Ronaldo. On both sides of the border he preached in small country churches, never desiring the limelight. Booklets of his own authorship like "2022--Year of The Beast" were self-published with no ISBN numbers to give away. Since his tragic death on March 5th, 2023, I have met some of his fellow workers, and would like to tell a little about this tremendous warrior of the cross. First, Ronald was ageless. He died at 65 years of age but was known to hike up and down mountains and balance on the catwalks of churches under construction like a thirty-year-old. Here are some of the things his native fellow pastor told me: "Tocaba guitarra, batería, y baja electrica"
(He played the guitar, drum set, and the electric bass). This hermano
used to love traveling to events deep in the jungle or distant villages and jamming out in worship with Ronaldo, who was an accomplished and diverse musician. Beyond the technical aspects of song, he knew how to stir up the anointing. He was a true minstrel, able to bring a refreshing to beleaguered congregations weary from constant battle with territorial demons, poverty, and the tragedies of drug war. A lot of bad guys got saved over the years, and the cartels would like to have been rid of Ronaldo. Threats from such actors have prevented a proper investigation into his death, or even the publication of a proper obituary, even four months later. "Puso atención cuando vió gente reuniendo bajo un árbol"
(It caught his eye when he saw people gathering [for worship] under a shade tree). Ronaldo is known for building some 35 churches in Mexico. Beyond the block and mortar, he raised up congregations of precious people. Sometimes he won the first souls in a place that would be the seeds for a new fellowship. Other times he observed budding works that were pushing forward despite challenges and lack of facilities. He would come alongside them and do apostolic work, discipling leaders and laying the foundation of sound doctrine. He broke denominational barriers, teaching the full Gospel and the deeper truths of the power of the Holy Ghost. He pinched his Pesos
to buy gravel and cement for those small groups, and that without the financial backing of big-name American preachers. Al contrario
, he often had to unravel bad doctrines and worse behaviors that had floated across the Río Grande
and infected native churches.
"No permitió nadie acompanarle en la troca...dijo, en el caso que salgo del camino
" (He didn't let anyone ride in his truck with him, he said, in case I run off the road some day). Mexico is very safe for foreigners staying on the cuota
superhighways and out of bandit strongholds, but Ronaldo wanted to go where God's light was dim. The majority of his work was in Tamaulipas State, which currently carries the highest warning from the US State Department (Level IV--Do Not Travel). This valiant preacher was not content to leave his fledgling congregations to vie for themselves when they were beset with dangers. He continued making his rounds to encourage the faithful, sensing that the tide was turning in Mexico. The nation was becoming more civil and less corrupt; the values he had been teaching were taking root and bearing fruit even in the darkest recesses. The pastors close to him knew that he had narrowly escaped cartel gun-trucks in the past and that he would run if he had to. He would risk his own life in this way, but nobody else's. He drove a gunmetal grey Nissan Titan pickup with a V-8 motor. It was rated at four hundred horsepower.
"Hasta doscientos...y MÁS
." (She'll do two hundred [kph]...and MORE!) The speed limit on the federal highways is 110 kilometers per hour. That is almost 70 miles per hour, plenty for a narrow two-lane that's bumpy and a bit rough. I have broken 150 (and broken a nervous sweat) a time or two when overtaking and the traffic was bearing down. 200 kilometers per hour is raceway speed that most super-stock drag cars will never exceed in the quarter-mile. It is a velocity for the wide and modern banked roads of Germany's Autobahn
, and that in ideal weather. Ronald confided in his friend that his Titan had broken 200kph more than once when he was hotly pursued on those rustic roads, and that he was yet to find its limit.
"...[T]he driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi; for he driveth furiously."
-2Ki 9:20b March 5th was a sunny Sunday morning, blistering hot by 9 O'clock. Walicki was traveling the notoriously dangerous Gulf coast route of the Matamoros/San Fernando highway alone. Little is known about the cause of his accident
. What is clear is that his Titan left the highway at an incredible speed in a rollover crash, coming to rest in a field of sprouting sorghum more than 100 feet from the pavement. The driver's door was torn completely off and Walicki was ejected. Landing among the seedlings, he was killed instantly. Dozens of his pamphlets were scattered in the field beside his spare pair of blue jeans. A few months after Ronaldo's death, the Mexican Marines including aviation assets surrounded a group of terroristas
very near to the site of his crash
, killing ten (among them was a sicaria
, one the famed lady assassins of Mexico). This cartel cell had two new high-speed pursuit trucks and military weapons. They had been under observation by Naval Intelligence drones for weeks. A México Codigo Rojo article
stated that the successful operation would "prevent future episodes of violence in the region".
The GospelGunslingers further commemorated Brother Walicki on the Living By The Sword worldwide radio show
, on March 6th, the day after his death (Week 26 show) and again on July 3rd (Week 43 show). He will be missed by the many thousands of villagers he brought to the Lord. I will make a point to continue his work and visit as many of those remote churches as I am able...if I can find them!
-Pastor Sam HonnoldGospelGunslingers.com