Divine Interruptions

On this day in 2017 I had a providential encounter with a man from Chile. His name is Paulo. He joined us for our worship gathering the previous Sunday at WCC. He chose our Church because the uncle and aunt he was visiting lives three blocks away.

Paulo’s life was turned upside down and his heart broken. Even though almost one year prior he had come to believe that Jesus is Lord, he told me something was missing in his relationship with God. He decided to visit America to take a break from his job and normal surroundings so he could spend two weeks praying. He wanted an answer from God about the questions that troubled his heart and the circumstances that flipped his life upside down.

For one week he walked the city every day begging God to hear him. In his words, “I have cried many tears.” That day around mid-morning he was sitting in his uncle’s car parked in front of Aroma’s Coffee Shop crying out to God to give him an answer. After two hours of praying he went in for a cup of coffee. I recognized him. So I approached and said hello, asking if he was at WCC that Sunday. He recognized me. He nervously asked if we could talk. I was on my way out for an errand and was planning to go about the rest of my busy day. But despite my plans and other appointments, I felt the Lord tugging at me to allow my day to be interrupted. So I asked him to give me half an hour and I would return.

I came back to Aromas and met with him. He told me about his spiritual pilgrimage and what led him here. We talked about Jesus. He told me that even though he believed that Jesus is Lord he never knew about baptism. After reading the Scriptures together (in Spanish) he began to cry. He said, “This is what God needed to tell me. When can I get baptized?” So we left the coffee shop for the church building.

This is a picture of me, Garrett, Dave, and Paulo after his baptism. Before we left he said, “My tears of sorrow are now tears of joy!” He shared his story with WCC the next Sunday.

Only the Lord of heaven and earth can bring a man from half a world away to a “chance” encounter like this. Divine interruptions like these still amaze me. Happy baptism birthday Paulo!

About Fred

Fred came to serve greater Williamsburg and WCC as lead pastor in October of 2010 and is grateful to be a part of the family. He is a husband, father, certified trauma professional, S.T.A.R. (strategies for trauma awareness & resilience) practitioner, community organizer, TEDx alum, founder of 3e Restoration, Inc. and co-owner of Philoxenia Culture LLC. He received his B.S. in Ministry/Bible at Amridge University and his Master’s of Religious Education in Missional Leadership from Rochester University. Currently he is a candidate for a Doctorate of Ministry in Contextual Theology in at Northern Seminary in Chicago. Fred has also served as an adjunct professor for Rochester University and Regent University where taught courses in philosophy, ethics, leadership, pastoral care, intro to Christianity, and ethnography. He has also served as a guest lecturer on the subjects of racialized cultural systems, poverty, and missiology at various universities, such as William & Mary and Oklahoma Christian University. Fred has authored on book (Racialized Cultural Systems, Social Displacement and Christian Hospitality) and several curriculum offerings, including The FloorPlan: Living Toward Restoration & Resilience. Fred enjoys hanging out with his family anytime, anywhere. He is deeply grateful for how God graciously works through the Church in all her various forms, despite our brokenness. He is passionate about seeing the last, least, and lonely of every neighborhood, city and nation experience God’s in-breaking kingdom, and come to know Jesus as King. Oh, and his favorite season is Advent and Christmas. Fred is a founding member of the board of directors for Virginia Racial Healing Institute, a member of the leadership team for Williamsburg's local chapter of Coming to the Table, and a member of Greater Williamsburg Trauma-Informed Community Network's Racial Trauma Committee and Training Committee.
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