All Things Are Possible For Those Who Believe: A UCC Family’s Faith Journey
“Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” (1 Thess. 5:24, NASB).
My story, of course, begins with my parents. Both of them, due to tragic experiences early in their lives, were stripped of the opportunity of completing a formal education. My father’s father was murdered in Mexico when my dad was just a young boy. As the eldest, he was sent to California and was responsible for providing for his family back home. His only option was to work in the farming fields.
My mother, who lived in Wyoming, underwent her own tragedy. At the age of 13, she lost her father to suicide. Also, being one of the eldest, she was forced to drop out of high school in order to provide for her family. She too found herself working long, grueling hours in the hot sun cutting or picking whatever was in season at the time.
They both worked tirelessly knowing their families depended on them for their daily sustenance. Life took its toll on them, but God, though not necessarily acknowledged by them at the time, never left them alone. Eventually, their paths would cross in the beautiful state of Washington. Broken and beaten by life, but with a resilience of steel, they decided to start a life together. As a result of yet another tragedy, the death of their first child, God sent a pastor into their lives. Though it took a couple of years, one Sabbath my parents were married and baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Though devoid of their own education they were impressed by the Holy Spirit that their children should be given the best education possible. In an incredible leap of faith, my parents (still working in agriculture and barely earning enough to cover the bills) enrolled my siblings in the local junior academy. Later, after my brother and I were born, my parents had managed to have one of my sisters at Walla Walla College, another brother and sister at the boarding academy, and myself and my younger brother in the junior academy! How? Through the determination and unshakable faith of two devoted Christian parents who both worked multiple jobs to pay our tuition, scholarships from generous donors and, ultimately, a loving God whose countless miracles sustained us.
I was young, so I did not notice our degree of poverty. My parents and five siblings all lived in a 1.5-bedroom home, wore clothes from the Dorcas (Adventist Community Services) department , and often had only beans and potatoes to eat. What we didn’t have in “material things” my parents made up for in love and support. They not only taught us to place God at the center of our lives but showed us that education was the key to our success. My father studied and eventually was able to obtain his license as a mechanic and opened up his own shop. My mother, over the span of about 15 years, while working and caring for her family, obtained her GED and associate's degree, and graduated in 2011 with her Bachelor of Arts in elementary education. Five of their children have received master’s degrees in fields including social work, administration and theological studies.
I share my parent’s story because they are not only an inspiration to me but remembering their sacrifice and hard work provides me with the drive and motivation to keep going each day. Even more than the gift of education, they introduced us to Jesus Christ. Before attending Loma Linda University (LLU) School of Medicine, I struggled with knowing whether I should pursue medicine or go into ministry. After much prayer, I was impressed that I would somehow do both. As a result of many miracles, I left LLU after two years to attend La Sierra University’s H.M.S. Richards Divinity School where I took the maximum number of credits the school would allow per quarter, and I was able to complete my degree in one year. I graduated with a master’s in theological studies in 2017 and was back in the hospital the next day to begin the final two years of medical school. God showed me that in order to follow Jesus’ example, medicine and ministry must be one and the same. To see my patients as Jesus sees us is to see brokenness not only of the body but also of the soul. I now have the privilege of being able to offer physical healing and point people to the One who heals the soul! This is a calling that is both humbling and exhilarating! My hope and prayer is that I can be a faithful witness, not only in all of my patient encounters, but in all my life activities, of the mercy, generosity and love of our God.