The Insurmountable Debt

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On Sunday night, my friend Jon shared this story with a group of missionaries gathered for our monthly English church service.  I have since then shared this verbally with 2 other missionary friends that I work with.  It was such an inspiring story of God’s faithfulness, that I asked Jon if I could share it today on my blog.  You can find the original post on his blog as well as read some of his other posts about living in Costa Rica here on Jon’s blog.

From August 3-12 my dad Ken Dahlager, my oldest son Jonathan, and I went to Cuba to participate in the sixth annual Assemblies of God Pastors’ Kids retreat. Our Costa Rica PK team helped start this ministry in 2008 and we have helped to make this event happen each year since. 500 young people participated in the 3 day event. The Lord’s presence was felt in every event, and we heard many stories of how God has used this ministry to change the direction of many young people, their families, and their churches.

We are still unpacking the many stories we heard in these amazing days, in a country where financial resources are very limited, but the Christians have incredible faith. This is one of those stories.

The young man in the photo below is Adriel, who is 19 years old and competes in the track-and-field event of hammer throw. As we were chatting one day he told me an amazing story. A year and a half ago his parents took out a $100 loan to buy 5 sheep and fatten them up to sell. All 5 got sick and died, leaving the family with a debt they had no way to pay off with their $20 a month salary. He said he had never asked anyone for money before, but he felt a special connection with me and asked if there was any way I could help. As missionaries we normally do not do cash help like this, as it can negatively impact our relationship with the people, but I told him I would think about it and give him an answer the next day.

I have been preaching a message from Matthew 18 about the man who was forgiven a debt of 10,000 talents, about 200,000 years worth of a worker’s salary, but who throttled his friend for a debt of 100 denari, or 100 days’ wages. Like the forgiven servant, I have received so much from God’s grace — perhaps it was my turn to help.

That night I felt the Lord speak to me to help Adriel, sensing that this was an act of faith the Lord was asking me to take. The next day he told me he was leaving the retreat early, since he got word that an aunt had died. I pulled him aside and told him the Lord had directed me to give him $100.

As soon as I did this, he put his strong hand on my shoulder and said “now let me tell you a story. When I was getting on the bus to come here, a little old man got on in front of me who had one arm cut off above the elbow. He didn’t have the 40 pesos (about $1.50) to pay, hoping the driver would let him on anyway. The driver was about to throw him off the bus when I felt God tell me that if I paid for the man, God would provide this week so my family could pay off their debt. I took out the only spending money I had for this retreat and paid it. Now you have fulfilled God’s promise to me.”

The crazy part is that we also have some huge financial needs this year, and I gave him the money sensing God wanted to provide for us as well. The first day I was back home I got emails telling me about special gifts that would pay for two major ministry events. This is a huge response immediately after I gave Adriel the $100, and I’m quite sure that God is big enough to provide for everything we need.

Insurmountable financial challenges are all relative – $1.50 for the old man on the bus, $100 for Adriel’s family, thousands for another. God is able to provide for all of them.

cuba-photo-adriel2

I love stories that build faith and inspire me to trust God more.  It does not matter if your insurmountable obstacle is a pebble or a boulder or a mountain, God is able to make a way for you.  Today I am praying for several missionary friends who are not sure they can survive until the end of this month or the end of the semester or the end of the year.  God is able.  If He can feed Elijah with ravens and the Children of Israel with Manna, then God can provide for your needs too.  Trust Him.

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