Katy and I were in the middle of our missionary training when we received an urgent call from the vice chairman of New Tribes Mission. He asked us to leave the training early, move to Colombia and replace one of the field leaders.
This was crazy! Impossible. But I replied, “Yes, we will go.”
I was 28, and Katy just 20. Having grown up in Brazil with missionary parents, I spoke some Portuguese but no Spanish. We didn’t have a penny to our name. There was no money for gas to drive our red Volkswagen van to Wisconsin, or to obtain passports, visas, shipping and airfare. We were also in debt for school tuition, and had only $50 a month in promised financial support.
It was impossible. There were too many obstacles. Yet Katy and I made the decision to leave in four days. We trusted that if this was His will, He would undertake. Still, taking that first step in faith was overwhelming.
We will never forget the Tuesday morning we were ready to leave. We had no money for gasoline. The car was packed, our apartment spotless. Katy and I stood there silently, looking at each other.
A knock at the door brought us back from our thoughts. One of our instructors and his wife said good-bye, prayed for us and wished us a great trip. As they left, they dropped some money on the chair near the door.
One by one our incredible fellow students and instructors came to wish us well, say good-bye, and quietly dropped money on the chair as they left. I knew that for some, it was all the money they had. Yet they graciously shared it with us. We were speechless.
I grabbed a paper bag and stuffed the bills and change into it. A few moments later our little red Volkswagen was chugging up the hill to the nearest service station. Day by day we watched God work. An anonymous donor paid our tuition debt. Another sent a gift large enough to get us to Colombia.
Three weeks later, we were sitting in an apartment in Bogota.
How awesome is that?
Many times since that first year as missionaries, we have found ourselves in impossible situations. Many times Katy and I have looked back to that Tuesday morning landmark, then taken another step of faith, trusting God for something much bigger than we could handle.