23 Oct Day 13: Fernando, part 1

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Jeremiah 29:13

Fernando and his wife

Fernando was a legendary House Parent Coordinator in Campinas. After many years, he left to head up his family’s trucking business in Rio de Janeiro. That was a decade ago, but my heart never really released him from service. He was a kid whisperer.

For two years, I engaged in efforts to woo Fernando back, even visiting his home in Rio. But he had a comfortable income, his daughter was in her last year of law school, and his son was gaining notoriety in a semi-pro soccer league. He was not keen on trading this for the stress of living on-campus, on call 24 hours a day.

I’d almost given up. It had been six months since I last reached out, but something prompted me to pester him one last time. I texted, half-jokingly, “Fernando, are you finally ready to stop fleeing from God’s call?”
His response was short: “Watch this.” Five minutes later, I found myself crying.

He sent me a video clip from a televised church service. A visiting pastor, who did not know Fernando, was saying, “I sense God has a special mission for someone here, someone who has been rejecting His call to return to ministry.” He then walked among the parishioners and laid his hand on someone’s shoulder, who followed him back to the front of the church. It was Fernando! Fernando recalls how he knew God was making a personalized shout out to him, but like a child trying to hide from his parents, he had purposefully tried to become invisible to avoid being called out.

The pastor asked Fernando if he’d been avoiding God’s call and if he was ready to dedicate his life to ministry. Fernando nodded, and then he kneeled. As the congregation extended their hands, the pastor led them in a prayer, consecrating Fernando’s decision to return to ministry.

But still he resisted.  He admits to being very stubborn, and the next day he told his wife, “You know, we can do ministry anywhere, even right here. If God really is calling us to Hope Mountain specifically, maybe Philip will reach out again, at least with a “Hi.”

Two days later, they were in line at the grocery store when Fernando’s phone dinged, alerting him to a text. There was my message – my words almost identical to those spoken by the pastor! Tears streaming down his cheeks, he handed his phone to his wife to read.

Needless to say, the rest is history. Fernando has already been a tremendous blessing, and he will continue to play a key role in defining the Hope ministry for many years to come.  Tomorrow, hear a little bit about Fernando’s calling.

Today, let us praise God for showing his power and ability to intervene in our lives in such a clear and personal way. Ask God to help us be mindful when He is speaking to us and to send others to help clarify our path when we need confirmation. Please say a special prayer for Him to continue to send us talented and loving workers for our harvest of children.