Today I’d like to share a recent article written by Rick Bravo about an incredible experience that we had on our recent Work & Witness Trip to Cuba. On Sunday night May 1st we will be sharing all the details of our wonderful trip, but I couldn’t express what happened in regards to Nathan’s chair better than Rick can. So here you go…..
A CHAIR FOR NATANIEL
by Dr. Rene’ “Rick” Bravo
San Luis Obispo , California
Planning for a successful missions trip can involve many surprises and blessings. Thankfully, the power of God can overwhelm our planning, leaving us in awe of what He can do with our simple obedience.
A few weeks before our team’s departure to Camaguey, Cuba, I received an email from Pastor Arcel Rodriguez of the Jayama Nazarene congregation asking about the possibility of bringing a wheelchair with us. His eight-year-old nephew, Nataniel, is afflicted with cerebral palsy and has spent almost all of his life in a crude infant carriage that constantly chafed and caused ugly sores on his little limbs, limiting his mobility and his life. Because resources are limited in rural Cuba, the special mobility devices used for this type of physical disability are almost impossible to procure.
Pastor Rodriguez and his family had been praying for years about a wheelchair for Nataniel. The cost of these special chairs can run as high as $4000 in the United States. After receiving his email, I knew immediately that Pastor Rodriguez’ request could not be filled. First, the cost was prohibitive. Secondly, the chair would need to be custom-fitted. Third, its transport from the USA to rural Cuba would be difficult given its weight and bulk. If we were to bring a chair to Nataniel, divine intervention would be required.
The next morning in my pediatric office, I asked my staff to make some phone calls. Within an hour, we had located several wheelchairs exactly like the one we needed that had been “outgrown.” A trusted vendor in Goleta, California, offered many choices based on Nataniel’s body size.
Stunned by how quickly we found the chairs, I was offered several to choose from free-of-charge! As I looked them over, one stood out, perfect for this child’s size and needs…and boldly embroidered with Nataniel’s english name, Nathan, already on it. Yes, God was making it very obvious for this occasionally skeptical physician. It was delivered to my office a week later.
The next challenge was moving a complex 70-pound chair from San Luis Obispo, California, to Cuba. The airline transported the wheelchair from Los Angeles to Miami free-of-charge, accompanying our Work and Witness team. Next, the travel agency paid for the charter air transport costs from Miami to Holguin, Cuba. In customs, the Cuban authorities waived the team and the wheelchair through without hesitation. It was abundantly clear that God was not only smoothing the path, he was making every step remarkably easy. We encountered not a single roadblock.
We drove five hours to deliver the chair to Nataniel, who lives in a rural village near Trinidad on the Caribbean coast. When we arrived, we found his family joyously awaiting God’s provision for them. Nataniel was lying quietly in his old battered infant carriage. As his father lifted him for the last time from that old, worn stroller, it became abundantly clear that God had provided the precise answer – the chair fit perfectly!
We stood around this child praising the Lord and marveling at the perfection of His love for Nataniel and his family in rural Cuba. God’s hand was obvious in every single step of this process. What I saw as an impossible task – acquiring an expensive, custom-made, perfectly fitted, weighty wheelchair for a child with cerebral palsy and moving it into Cuba from the USA – was easy for our God to accomplish.
The prayers of a family were answered. “But my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19). The chair for Nataniel elegantly reflected how the Lord hears and answers prayers. He removes impediments and clears the way. And as I continue in my walk with the Lord, I will remind myself of the miracle of the “chair for Nataniel”. It is in the arena of the impossible where God’s presence shines most brilliantly.
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