In 1992 our family of six lived a very comfortable and blessed existence. We owned a “paid off”, cherry wood furnished, condominium in Miami, Florida. Jose had a successful career with the second largest Hispanic television network in the world, and our finances were virtually secured due to family wealth.
Our cars were paid in full, our credit cards were always at a zero balance, and we had many wonderful Christian friends. It seems like the “perfect American dream”?
Mary and I, however, were incredibly frustrated. Christianity as we knew it had become ritualistic, disappointing, and boring. For many years we had run off in a tizzy to Sunday church to hear what seemed to be the same messages. There was the uneventful, weekly cell group and the occasional “guilt driven” outreach to the lost. All of this within an “anxiety driven” city that had a deaf ear and little time for the things of God.
“Lord”, Mary and I would cry in desperation, “Is this what Christianity is all about”? “God, where is the book of Acts, where are the miracles”?
The Lord answered us in His usual uncanny style. “If you want to live in the supernatural you must trust and give in the supernatural.” Through a series of events and confirmations that transpired over several months, the Lord challenged us with two scriptures.
When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come follow Me. Luke 18:23
And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. Matt 19:29
The Lord Jesus asked us to give away, our home, and embark with Him on a journey of faith. After hundreds of hours of prayer, Mary and I felt prompted to telephone Christian friends of ours who also had four children (they now have seven), and offer them the condominium. In a “tear filled” meeting we told them that the condo would become theirs when the Lord would bring to us this “hundredfold return” on our giving.
Months later, the Lord hit us with a bombshell that left us numb and broken. “Giving the condo away, conditional upon money coming in, is not faith. You haven’t given away anything, Jose.” We knew that money or no money, God was asking us to legally give away our home and move out. Jose would shake and tremble in “his closet” as he prayed about what the Lord was requiring of them.
We went to our pastor with whom we had been in continuous dialogue about the situation with the home. We will never forget how God spoke through him. With simple words of wisdom, he told us: “Whatever is in your hearts to do, do.”
Days later we went with our friends to a lawyer and executed a “Quit Claim Deed”, legally giving away the condo, and the furniture to them and agreeing on a date on which we would vacate.
The dreaded day came and the Lord had brought nothing. We only had credit cards and were forced to use them, very much against our will. The fifty-eight boxes of personal belongings were placed in storage. We loaded our van with the six of us and nine duffel bags and were sent out by our church. As Abraham did, we went out without knowing where we were going.
Jesus first led us to the great revival in Pensacola, Florida, at the Brownsville Assembly of God. There, we met some precious folks from Tuscaloosa, Alabama who invited us to visit with them at their church where another revival was taking place. We remember the preacher, getting up right into our faces, screaming and prophesying “give it away, give it all away!”
During Jose’s prayer time in the motel, God spoke to him two words, “New Mexico.” We felt that this was the Lord’s destination and continued to travel west on I-20.
In Longview, Texas, while Jose was in prayer, the Lord narrowed down His vocabulary to one word, “pueblo.” To us, pueblo means a little town. We took out the atlas of New Mexico and were floored to find almost twenty places that had the name pueblo within it. Later on, we were to find out, that these were the nineteen Pueblo Indian Nations of New Mexico. The Lord prompted us to go to Santo Domingo Pueblo which sits smack between Albuquerque and Santa Fe on I-25.
On May 3,1997, we drove into Albuquerque and the next day went up north to Santo Domingo Pueblo, having no idea what we would meet. A little dusty and empty village, filled with adobe homes, met us. When we got out of our van, our eyes spotted a precious little Native American lady selling jewelry. As we greeted her, a lightning bolt from the heavens shot up and down through our souls and our eyes were marvelously opened. A supernatural heavenly love for Native Americans pierced our hearts, and in one split second we knew that we, as white people, were called to serve them in the gospel. It was “love at first sight!” We can honestly tell you that until that very moment Mary and Jose had never had an inkling of a burden for Native American people!
We were to find out from this tiny lady that “white people” cannot live in the pueblos. As a matter of fact, some of the Pueblo Nations have a ‘sundown law” in which all white people must vacate from the village at the setting of the sun. She pointed out to us Pena Blanca a town of 500 people, set between two Pueblo nations, where “white people” could live.
We had booked a motel in Albuquerque for a one week stay. Every day we would travel back and forth from there to Pena Blanca in an attempt to find a vacancy in residence, but nothing opened up to us. The credit cards were quickly being depleted and we only had ten dollars cash in our pockets. The day before the motel reservation was completed, an efficiency opened up. We packed our van and checked out of the motel as Jose grumbled under his breath to the Lord, “you know that we only have ten dollars, we will look like fools trying to rent something!” The Lord told Jose, “be quiet and move on!”
We were shown a clean and unfurnished efficiency by the landlady whom would later become a precious friend. We knew that that the Lord wanted us to take it, but were at a loss of what to do. Stammering and stuttering, Jose and Mary huddled together as the landlady looked on. Knowing nothing of our financial dilemma she interjected, “you can move in today and pay me next week.”
That night, we settled into our new one-bedroom residence that had a shade less lamp, a torn up sofa, and Wal-Mart blankets as its furniture.
The next day being Sunday, we went to visit a church in Santa Fe whose pastor and congregation we had met the week before at a restaurant. Picking us out in a crowd of five hundred, the pastor asked us to come forward and share the testimony of how the Lord brought us from Miami, Florida, to New Mexico. As we sat down after our speech he said, “The Lord just told me to take up an offering for these folks.” This pastor knew nothing of our finances. Over seven hundred dollars came in and we were able to pay for our first month of rent and deposit.
A week later, through the hands of a few Christians that live in Pena Blanca, our efficiency was completely furnished down to a TV set, kitchen ware, and furniture. Once again, we had never asked.
We must now tell you about four notable miracles that the Lord performed while we all slept together those two years in the living room of the efficiency.
This first one we lovingly call “the one diaper miracle.” We had four dollars in our pockets, and our son Timmy was still in diapers at that time. We had one diaper left for him, the credit cards were maxed out, there was no food, the rent payment was two weeks behind, and the auto insurance was to be cancelled the next day. Jose was down on his knees in the tiny storage room which had been made into his office. His prayer was, “Lord, remember that Timmy has one diaper left.” Mary, meanwhile, had gone out to get bread, peanut butter and jelly, as well as check the mail. Jose was still on his knees when she burst through the front door waiving a check for $ 10,000.00! One of her aunts had sadly, and very unexpectedly, passed away. Her nephews and nieces had been designated as inheritors of her will. All credit cards were immediately paid off, as well the auto insurance and two months’ worth of rent!
On another occasion we had totally ran out of money and food. Mary woke up with a confident feeling that the Lord would provide lunch even though we only possessed flour and oil, just as the little widow in the Biblical narrative of Elijah the prophet. Having cooked unsavory pancakes, she stepped out through the front door to feed our dogs. Lo and behold, the grass was littered with unopened cans of food, a huge can of peanut butter, and a bag of beans. All of them were slobbered over with the dogs’ saliva. It was an Elijah raven miracle. This time, however, the ravens were the dogs. They had brought us the food!
A third miracle had to do with dirty laundry! Our efficiency had no washing machine or dryer. Mary would take the laundry to Cochiti Pueblo, where the Lord gave her a chance to build relationships with our pueblo neighbors. Once again, we had no money and nineteen loads of laundry filling up the bedroom. Precious friends of ours from Santo Domingo pueblo, have two little girls which often would drop off to play with our kids. This time they insisted on giving us twenty dollars for babysitting. We came to realize that this was the Lord providing us with laundry money. Grabbing our nineteen bags we went to church that Sunday, planning to afterwards go and do the laundry. During the service, Jose felt prompted to get the family and leave from church. As we walked out the front door, a parishioner that we had never met, beckoned to our oldest daughter with his finger and said, “come here little girl.” Jose, as any father would do, froze in his tracks, shocked at what could be going on. Alexandria, slowly walked back to this man. He proceeded to pull out twenty dollars and gave it to her. The laundry and detergent cost $37.00! This man had been a sent angel of the Lord.
Our beloved parents did not understand our Christian life of faith. They had been hurt by what the Lord called us to do. We are happy to report that God has fully restored all of our relationships. Mary’s parents in 1998 gave each of their three children a substantial amount of money. In their eyes, they felt that we could not be trusted with money because we would give it away. They chose to set up a trust fund for us. We cannot touch the money, but the funds are available to us. Through the trust, we purchased a brand new five bedrooms, three bathroom manufactured home that is almost twice the size of what we gave away. We also have purchased over an acre of land, of which we had none in Miami. Likewise, the trust purchased a brand new van. It always pays the insurance on the home, van, the property taxes, and the repairs on the van and home. Though nothing legally belongs to us, the fact is that we cannot take anything with us when we go to meet the Lord and be with Him. God told us that our one-time act of forsaking all, has guaranteed us a life time provision of finances from His hands. My friends, we cannot out give the Lord!
In conclusion, we would like to share the following. The American church needs to know that the Lord Jesus performs, and is ready to do great miracles within it. What happened to us seems the account of some foreign missionary. All of this occurred in the U.S.A. within the last five years. We, the American church, don’t see this because we are stuck in the gospel of complacency, comfort, prosperity, and blessings, instead of simple devotion and obedience to the Lord Jesus.
Part of our commission was to come head on against the gods of money and comfort by doing the opposite and giving all away. Our testimony, which is simply one among many others, is one of encouragement and exhortation to the church of Jesus Christ. In many western countries such as ours, the church has become more of a system and less of a church. When the Lord gave to Moses the pattern of the Ark of the Covenant which symbolizes His presence, there was a pot of manna within it, which speaks of God’s provision. Except on the Sabbath, on which the house of Israel was commanded to gather manna for two days, on every other day, any quota of manna that exceeded the daily amount allotted by the Lord rotted away. In Matthew chapter ten, and the apostolic commission, these men of God were sent out without a provision of gold or silver. In part, this is why they saw the power of God. The church must turn around from the carnal doctrine of prosperity and comfort, to the one of whole hearted and uncompromising obedience to the Lord. There, we shall see the unfailing pot of manna and the power of signs and wonders as we learn to lean upon nothing else but the voice of the Lord.
The honor and privilege that God has given us in enjoying many relationships with Christians and non-Christians from the Pueblo, Lakota, Navajo, and Apache Nations, to name a few, as white people, is without expression. In the last six hundred years, in the name of Jesus Christ, much injustice and hurt has been done to the Native American. These people have welcomed and loved our family. We have had Bible studies where our family was the only white faces.
We will never forget when the Lord allowed us to preach in a church in Ganado, Arizona, in the heart of the Navajo Nation. As Jose waited to be called up, the Lord broke him by showing him the preciousness, dignity, and beauty of each person in that congregation. He told Jose, “you must ask these people to forgive you, all white people, and your ancestors, for all the harm that you caused to them. Jose, got up with tears in his eyes and asked for forgiveness. The service stopped, numerous people from their seats replied, “we forgive you brother and sister.” Two hundred people crowded around us. We embraced with them. We wept, they wept. A handmade bolo tie and a necklace were placed around our necks.
Our two years living in one room allowed us to identify with the Navajo people who live in circular one bedroom hogans. Our experience with forsaking all allowed us to identify with believers in the Pueblo Nations, who on occasions, have all property confiscated from them, and are expelled from living within the pueblo upon their profession of faith in Jesus Christ. One is not fit to minister to a group of people until he or she has been able to identify with them at least on some points.
We have been shocked at the amazing imbalance of finances between Native and non-Native ministries within the USA. We have had the honor of serving two of the foremost Christian Native American leaders alive today. Both of these people are used internationally, around the world; one of them with key government leaders.
Until very recently, these ministers did not have a secretary or even an office space of their own! They have no salaries. One of the two, finances her ministry from savings that she had when she was Grand Chief over two Native nations.
We realize that there is a void of knowledge in the United States about Native ministries because there are no funds for these ministries to go public through media channels. I guess, our little part is to tell and to invite you, our beloved non Native brothers and sisters to Native American missions which are white unto the harvest, even as we speak. There is a mighty revival being birthed in the Navajo Nation at this moment.