This is Fernando (Dodo), Raquel and their son Leoni.
We can’t even begin to tell you how much they bless our church family. Our church has a school that Giovanni attends and Dodo is a bus driver for many kids who attend there. He also drives the guys from the rehab farm to and from church every Sunday. A drive that can take from one and a half to two hours or even more depending on traffic on the freeway. He is also such an important part of the Compassion Ministry. He’s incredible.
Raquel is the secretary for the church and school. She seems like she’s everywhere, knows everyone and everything and does almost everything. She’s amazing.
Leoni is just awesome. Always seems to be smiling and happy. He and Giovanni love playing together.
Dodo’s parents work with a mission far away in the Amazon. Last June Dodo told me that he felt God was calling his family to go work with his parents as missionaries. He asked me to pray. He felt the call in 2016 when he went to visit his parents alone. Raquel had not yet felt the call and their entire family was going to visit in July of this year. Dodo just asked for peace from the Lord and unity if He was calling them to go.
They came back and during that trip God had put it on Raquel’s heart as well. They decided to move there in March.
We will be sad to see them go, but so happy that they are obeying God’s call.
Here’s what I love about their faith and our church:
Last Sunday we had a surprise celebration at our church for our pastor. To celebrate 10 years of being the pastor of our church family. His name is Olavo. He and his wife, Antonella, are some of the wisest and most humble people we’ve ever met. They love all God’s kids and we love them deeply.
Olavo had no idea we were having the celebration. He got up to say thank you for the blessing from his church family. He then called Dodo, Raquel and Leoni up to the front to officially announce them as our missionaries and to pray a blessing over them. As he spoke of this family he began to cry. As he cried, I cried. Benay cried. The next thing I know he’s talking about Benay and me and how crazy God’s kingdom is. That He would send Americans here as missionaries and now we are sending others out as missionaries. The next thing I knew he was asking us to come up front and to bless this family with him. We were humbled.
As we loved on them, Olavo cried as he prayed blessings over them. We all cried.
As Olavo prayed the entire church raised holy hands to pray blessings over this awesome family and their new ministry. It’s a moment we won’t ever forget.
Here is the next really, really cool part. Olavo then said that the best present he could receive was to send this family off in March,with all the support they needed. He asked his family, about ten of them, to come up with sheets of paper and pens. He looked at the church family and said, “I’d love to see Dodo and Raquel leave today knowing that they are fully funded to go. For those that feel led to help, come up right now and tell my family how much you are willing to bless this family with on a monthly basis.”
Fifteen minutes later Olavo announced that this family was now fully supported by our church family. I have never seen anything like that in my whole life. It was amazing and exactly what I think God’s family should look like.
Please don’t think we are talking about a small amount. It was a big amount and the challenge was met in fifteen minutes.
Please don’t think this is a one time thing. Our church already supports other missionaries and more hope to be heading soon to other parts of the world.
Please don’t think our church is wealthy. It is not.
What our church is, is generous. Every third Sunday of every month all of the offering, all of it, goes to missionaries. We’ve seen our church members, on any given Sunday, bless someone with a car after they were involved in a wreck with no insurance. We’ve seen big, expensive, electronic things break in the church and an immediate challenge was given to raise funds to fix it or buy a new one and in one worship service all the funds were raised. All of it. We’ve seen people give things away and sell things to bless others. We are blessed to be a part of a church that does not worship money but is generous with all that God gives them.
Later Antonella got up and blessed Olavo with a cake.
She also asked all the pastors and their wives, from the six satellite churches, to come up. She asked ministry leaders to come up. She asked others to come up to bless Olavo just like he blesses so many. As she spoke of what this church family meant to her she began to cry. Tears of joy and happiness for being part of such a special family.
We could not agree with her more.