While many things left an impact on me, one that stands out is the faith of a pastor, Alcides, that I have now known for 4 years. My first impression was that he was very passionate, emotional, and energetic – almost over the top even for the stereotype for men of the Island. After a pastor’s luncheon on that same trip, he asked me to be his prayer partner. He gave me no choice and then sealed it by giving me a national peso. I recognized then his ability to “close the deal” and saw his passion for evangelism. We have prayed for each other over the past 4 years. I have since had dinner at his house on each trip where he has sacrificed and prepared awesome native meals for the entire teams I have traveled with – solely for the purpose of supporting and encouraging us . This is particularly noteworthy as, until just recently, he lived in a 1 car garage with his wife and two daughters. Their only means of transportation is one bicycle. Recently offered another bicycle, he turned it down so that another needier pastor could have the new bicycle. On his own, he started a ministry to obtain food, prepare it, and feed seniors who have no other means.
I have seen this young pastor grow. Alcides’ faith and enthusiasm for the Lord has been unwavering. His new venture is a true test of the depth of his faith. Later this month and into May, with no real resources Alcides, along with 2 other pastors, plan on taking a train from the eastern side of the Island to the western side – and then will walk back, sharing his testimony with anyone who will listen and the salvation available to them. There are great risks for them with the heat, with the authorities, with those who wish to harm or rob them, and just for general safety.
Having heard this, Todd and I each decided individually we would give him our backpacks at the end of the week. We each also decided we would fill it with appropriate things we brought along (beef jerky, multi-tool knife, rain ponchos, etc). When Todd and I told Alcides (with his wife) at the pastor’s breakfast about the backpacks, the passionate Alcides along with his wife began to cry. What we did not know was that Alcides had been praying fervently for 2 backpacks. He said he knew God would answer his prayer, he just did not know when and how. I am deeply moved by Alcides’ continued faith in God, his obedience to Him, and belief that if he prays in faith God will answer.
I believe God will stand by Alcides, along with so many other pastors and Island Nation Christians, due to their extraordinary faith and passion to serve Him.