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Stories & Blog

A Papaya and a Prayer

ECUADOR — Bread, tomatoes, three papaya for a dollar. Joyce stood at her counter in the Ecuadorian market, silently taking customers’ payment for groceries. She helped person after person, not knowing a woman was on her way to talk specifically to her. Sally, a Crossworld worker, trudged up the road with a gospel tract in her pocket to buy some fruit from the village market, not knowing if anyone would be ready to hear.

“Guide me, Lord, to someone whose heart you’ve prepared,” Sally prayed as she entered the market. She picked out some papaya and waited in Joyce’s line to pay. At the front of the line she handed her money to Joyce along with the tract. “Here’s some good news from the Bible,” Sally said.

She was turning to leave when Joyce spoke up, “Someone gave me a Bible recently. I’m reading it and I really want to learn but I don’t understand.”

Immediately Sally realized God had answered her prayer! She stood and talked to Joyce for several minutes, then as other customers started to come through the line behind her she asked if she could visit Joyce at home later in the week.

Sally approached Joyce’s house a few days later and saw the whole family sitting on the porch — Joyce, her husband, her five children, her mother, and her father. She joined them, and a few minutes into the conversation Joyce asked Sally to talk about Christ with her father, Arnold. Arnold’s cancer was progressing rapidly, but it had done little to soften his hard exterior.

“I can’t understand how bad people can become Christians,” Arnold replied after Sally shared the gospel. She thought he might have been talking about himself, based on what Joyce had said about her father earlier. So the next time Sally visited the family she shared with Arnold about the thief on the cross next to Jesus, who did nothing to deserve salvation but received forgiveness anyway. “Why didn’t anyone tell us this before?” he asked.

Today, Joyce, her husband and her mother have all trusted Jesus as their Savior and are growing in their faith as new disciples of Christ. Arnold’s cancer has progressed so far that he can barely talk, but he has not yet trusted Christ for salvation.

Joyce’s outward situation hasn’t changed — she continues to struggle as she watches her father suffer. But now she doesn’t experience the same agony she used to. “Three months ago I was so desperate,” Joyce recalled about watching her father in pain. “Now yes, it’s suffering, but I’m not desperate because I know who is in control.”

With a papaya and a prayer, God sent Sally to proclaim his gospel so that he could transform the lives of this family in Ecuador.

Italicized names have been changed to protect identity.

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