Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

January 28, 2010

Missed Maricaibo

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am
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Maricaibo, Venezuela,  the second largest city in Venezuela, is located at the western end of the country.  It is one of the largest oil centers in South America.  Judy and I with our children looked forward to living there, but it did not work out. We missed living in Maricaibo because . . . .

Let me tell you the story.  Before Judy and I married, we had individually dealt with God’s will for our life and the possibility that it would include foreign missions.  Several years after we were married and I was in graduate school, we felt keenly that we should pursue the possibility of foreign missions.  We met with Dr. Rogers Smith, vice-president of the Foreign Mission Board at that time.  As he visited in our home, he told us with regrets that several factors would prevent us from going.  We accepted his response as a word from God that it was not His will at that time.

Later, we were serving a church when we received communications from Faith Baptist Church, an English speaking church, in Maricaibo, Venezuela.  Because the city was such an oil center, many North Americans lived there.  The majority of them were from Texas, and from friends they had gotten our name.  This rekindled that sense of missions, and after several weeks of conversations, we responded to their invitation to become as their pastor.

Weeks began to pass and we heard no word from them.  In the meantime, a pastor search committee had come to visit with us.  They insisted  we come and spend time with them.  We felt that it was a wise thing to do, and so we visited with that church over the weekend.  However, even after they extended a call, we did not feel that it was the place at the moment for us.  We were still anticipating hearing from the church in Maricaibo.  Another few weeks passed and we heard nothing.  Again, the church that had called us, visited with us again, insisting that we were the family for their church.  Following another visit and weeks of prayer, we accepted the call. 

As we returned home to the pastorium on that first Sunday night at our new church, the phone was ringing.  It was the Pastor Search Committee from Maricaibo.  They had traced us to our new address. They were concerned why they had not heard from us.  They had understood we were accepting their call and they were waiting for the written confirmation.  I responded by explaining to them that I had immediately written them, and that we had been concerned that we had not heard from them.  Then they had the answer.  There had been a postal strike in the country, and as an expression of revolt, all the mail on a particular day had been thrown into the ocean.  It must have been the day our letter arrived in the country.  What timing!  A day earlier or a day later, and the church would have received our letter.

We missed living in Maricaibo because of a destroyed letter?  We missed the opportunity for foreign missions because in anger someone threw the mail into the sea?  Now how can God let something like that happen?

The answer is easy.  Although God will allow us to walk on our own and out of His will, He also will see to it that we do not miss His will.  I am not wise enough to explain that, but I know  it by experience on more than one occasion.  God had something else for us.  Within a few months, the Foreign Mission Board relocated its orientation program for new missionaries just over the mountain where we were serving.  And do you know the church that became the primary place of worship and service for those missionaries?  You are right!  The church we were serving.  We were like the pastor to those newly appointed missionaries!  God was in control of our lives all along!  We are so happy that He intervened and used a postal strike to prevent us from a mistake!

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”  (Proverbs 16:9)


P.S.  A few years later, we were appointed misionaries.  Those factors that had been an obstacle before were all waived.  And at that time, our appointment was the fastest ever processed by the Foreign Mission Board.  God does have a way . . . He does determine our steps!



  1. Thanks, Lawson. Even though I’m familiar with this story, I love being reminded of how God works to keep us in His will. And it brings to mind a number of personal experiences where He did so in my life.

    Comment by Maggie King — December 7, 2010 @ 12:12 pm | Reply

  2. Thank you again Pastor Jolly for your story of this experience. I think everyone could relate to this if they are aware. I think sometimes we miss a blessing by being sad our plans didn’t come through instead of thanking God for whatever reason HE said “no” or “wait”.

    God bless you for your posts and reminders.

    Doris White

    Comment by D. White — February 19, 2011 @ 8:17 pm | Reply

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