One of the most extraordinary events of our lives is how the Lord compelled us to become missionaries.
In March 1999, I volunteered to go on my first short-term missions trip. Dolores, my wife, and two of our children were also invited on the trip. The following May, during a morning worship service with the West Ashley Church of God in Charleston, South Carolina (now International COG), the guest minister from Venezuela prayed for us, with the help of a translator, and spoke to us as if God himself was speaking to us. He said:
“I have seen you praying and praying. I have heard you crying out to Me. I have heard your prayers and have seen you suffering over the ministry I have given you. The reason you do not have the church with many members is because it is not here, but it is where I will send you. Prepare, prepare your family, because I am going to tell you like I told Abraham, ‘Leave your land.’”
Several weeks later, June 21st, we went on the short-term missions trip with a team from West Ashley COG to Colombia to help plant a new church in downtown Medellin. I was given the privilege to preach through a translator on Wednesday, June 23rd. During the altar call, a young lady from Santa Marta came to me and asked if she could share a message from the Lord. I agreed. As she spoke to me through a translator, hands trembling and perspiration rolling down her forehead, she shared:
“When you were preaching, God showed me your heart. In your heart was much light and from your heart came a church. The church was filled with light, and the church was in a city of lights. You are now walking towards that church.”
We had to go back to Charleston, but we had no resources to return to Colombia. We did not know anyone in Medellin or in Colombia. I brought this before the Lord and silently said to Him in my heart that if He really wanted us to go back, He would have to supply everything, because we just did not have the financial resources to make such an enormous move.
I never mentioned our need to anyone. But, God provided the funds, the airfare, and everything we needed. He provided a place for us to live when we did not know anyone in the city. He provided the translators we needed when we could not speak the language. He provided the grace we needed when we were short on experience. He did everything. Hallelujah!