The Lord Provides
The eastern sky was just beginning to show signs of light as the old Volkswagen combi pulled up in front of the little mission building. My wife, Helen, and I began helping Enrique and Ethel set up to serve breakfast. Soon children began to appear out of the early morning darkness coming down the dusty road from their stick and cardboard houses. Some were walking hand and hand with little brothers or sisters and all carried a plastic or tin cup.
As Enrique, the lay pastor at the mission, and his wife, Ethel, gave each child a piece of fruit, a sandwich, and a cup of chocolate milk fortified with protein, I let my thoughts go back to how I happened to be standing in this shanty town like so many you see on the edge of a Mexican city.
Two years earlier, we had committed to serving for six weeks as volunteer missionaries to start an English program in a seminary in Tampico on the Gulf coast of Mexico. The six weeks had become two years with no end in sight. Spending two years of our retirement being missionaries in Mexico had been an adventurous and spiritual experience.
As we prepared to return to the States for a vacation at the end of our third semester at the seminary, I received an email informing me the children in the vacation Bible school program at our home church in Florida had raised money to buy shoes for poor children in Mexico and I was the one who was supposed to buy the shoes. I didn’t have a clue which poor children the Lord wanted to receive these new shoes.
While I was thinking about the shoes, one of the seminary students, Erika, came to our house for a tutoring session with Helen. I shared the email with Erika and asked what she thought I should do? She replied, “I don’t know, but my father will. I’ll talk with him and I’m sure when you come back he will have a plan.”
When we returned from our vacation, Erika told me her father was expecting us the next weekend. He was ready to buy shoes for twenty-five children.
Enrique, Erika’s father, was waiting the next Saturday when we arrived in Ciudad Valles. He had worked out a deal for the shoes at a local store and we soon had them all packed in his combi.
Sunday we distributed the shoes at the mission in Soli. It was an emotional experience as we met these poor children and saw how thankful they were to receive a new pair of shoes.
While returning to Tampico that evening, Helen and I talked about our amazing weekend. We had been impressed with how Enrique and his wife, Ethel, had a heart for serving these people in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We were convinced the Lord did not want this to be a onetime experience.
Two weeks later we met with Enrique to learn if there were other needs we might help address. He immediately mentioned that the children went to school hungry. We asked him to work out details and costs for a breakfast program while we prayed for the Lord’s guidance.
The next day we were convicted that supporting a breakfast program was the Lord’s will. Enrique suggested we commit to supporting the program for only two months. He was aware we had some financial constraints. We gave Enrique enough pesos to get the program started, and told him we’d be back with more.
Helen brought up our finances on our trip back to Tampico. She pointed out that we couldn’t personally fund the breakfasts beyond about a month. “How will we pay for this?” she asked.
My response was, “If the Lord is in it, He will provide. If He isn’t, we’ll have to provide.”
I checked emails when we got home. One was from a friend asking how he could make a donation to our mission work. The Lord had already spoken.
This happened almost ten years ago. Today as I write this, poor children in Soli are getting their breakfast at the mission before walking down the dusty road to school. It is clear that it has been the Lord’s commitment, not ours, that has fed the children of Soli.
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