I didn’t know Mariela or her brother Marcel beyond their friendly greetings when we passed in the halls, so I was eager to get to know her during the applicant interview. She admitted she was conflicted about not going with her friends to Fiji, yet confident this was God’s leading. She told me how her life had changed during high school, especially as she began spending time with God daily. I mentioned that I had heard she was very caring toward her younger brother. Her response surprised me again: “Oh no, he’s the one who has been a good influence on ME.” She shared how his spiritual awakening in the past year--reading his Bible daily and choosing Christian, rather than secular, music--had sparked a desire for a closer walk with God in her.
As I listened to Mariela’s story, I, too, became convinced that she had been called to Cuba. Later, talking with my husband, I said, “After everything she told me about her brother, I think Marcel should come, too!” We guessed, correctly, that their single parent mother felt they could raise funds for just one of them to go on a mission trip—Marcel’s chance would be next year. I asked them to pray about Marcel going and assured them that God would provide the means, if He was calling Marcel to Cuba. The whole family felt this was indeed a God-sent opportunity for brother and sister to share their faith together in Cuba.
They sent support letters to friends and family. And… nothing. Usually responses come within a couple weeks, but there were none. We prayed, they made plans to do a fundraiser at a fair at another school, and we continued to believe that God would provide, because we were certain He had called them both to Cuba.
At school, Marcel approached me excitedly to tell me what had happened at the fair. They sold some products, and a woman they didn’t know chatted with them and took their letters. A while later, she returned with a donation that covered one fourth of their trip! The unexpected provision was confirmation to the siblings that God had indeed called and had ways to provide for them that they could not anticipate. Only after that did they begin to receive the expected donations from friends and family. But God was not through with surprises! The donor contacted them again, saying they came to her mind when her mother gave her funds to contribute to a good cause, and she gave a second donation to support God’s work in Cuba.
I always say that I do not want to do short-term mission trips just because we can. I truly want to know that God is calling each of us individually to participate in His mission and that He is preparing us to do the work He has planned in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). All the donations—large ones as well as the “widow’s mite”—are a confirmation and encouragement to students that God and His people support their desire to serve. Mariela and Marcel’s story of God’s convicting them and providing for their needs through a stranger is an encouragement to me that it was indeed God I was hearing when I felt so powerfully that they should both be on this trip. I can hardly wait to see how God will continue to prepare our team and bless the evangelistic campaign in Cuba in March!