Double Portions: Peter’s Story
In early December, I went on a mission trip to share the good news in Cuba. We stayed in Morón, about eight hours by van from Havana. I was paired up with a local interpreter for the week, a man named Pastor Peter Paul. Naturally we were called Pete and RePete. Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?
Each day we visited a town where local church workers had been reaching out to those in the community who did not have faith to see who was willing to meet with us. At the first town, Falla, our church worker was named Mercy. Needless to say I was thankful to God sent Mercy with us. The plan was for the three of us to go to each home, where Mercy would introduce us. I would speak and Peter Paul would translate into Spanish what I was saying.
The first meeting is one that I will never forget. I was nervous. A man named Neson, his wife Mercedes, and their daughter Leanette greeted us at the door. Inside was their eighty-year-old grandmother, Nelida, who happened to be the only believer in the house. Neson didn’t want to get trapped talking to some evangelists, so he left and went outside. Mercedes, Nelida, and Leanette were kind and they shared about their family and their lives. I showed pictures and told them about my family back home. I said that it wasn’t an accident that I was in their living room.
Eventually Neson came back to sit at the very edge of the room. I shared the good news with his family, knowing Neson would hear it, too. I told them God loves them and is pursuing them; that He sent His son to know them; that He desires a personal relationship with them; and that His grace is unending.
We met for over an hour. Neson kept slowly edging his chair closer to us. By the end of our meeting, he was in the middle of the circle. When I asked the family if they wanted to accept Christ into their hearts, to my surprise Neson was the first to jump up and say yes! All three accepted Christ that day.
We spent the rest of the day meeting with people, but no one else was ready or willing to accept Jesus. On the van ride back home at the end of the day, I was unsettled. I was thankful and excited about Neson, Mercedes, and Leanette, but I was also disappointed. I know maybe I shouldn’t have been, but I felt a tremendous burden to reach as many people as possible. Time was not on our side, given that we only had 5 days to meet with people.
So, crammed into the back of the church van, I closed my eyes and prayed. I kept feeling the Spirit say, “Ask and you will receive. Be bold.” Elisha’s prayer about a double portion kept echoing in my head. So I prayed to God and told Him I wanted a double portion. I wanted twice as many people to accept Christ the next day. I prayed that He would open up hearts, minds, and souls to the message, that the Spirit would go ahead of me to work, and that He would give me the words to say to reach them. Normally when you ask for more, you feel selfish, but asking for more for God’s glory seemed entirely right.
Right before I got out of the van, Peter Paul looked me in the eyes and said, “Pete, my friend, tonight we ask for double.” I almost laughed out loud when he said that. He saw my expression and I told him that was what I had been praying. The Spirit was working in both of us and this confirmed that our prayers would be for a double portion of souls.
The next day as we loaded up into the vans to head to the town of Chambas, I asked Peter Paul for scripture verses for the day. The first one he said was Psalm 37:5-7.
“Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him and he will do this: he will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noon day sun.”
Our church worker that day was named Nancy. Later I looked it up and learned that the name Nancy comes from “Hannah,” which in Hebrew means “grace.” So far, God had sent us Mercy and Grace to lead us into the homes of the Cuban people!
The first man we met in Chambas did not look interested to see us, but the spirit of God moved in him that day. Marcelo, all of 85 years old and tired, had never believed, but he opened up his heart and taught us a very important lesson about speaking to everyone, whether we felt comfortable talking to them or not.
That morning two others, Gladys Hernandez and Madeline, found faith and started a friendship with Jesus. So our daily tally stood at three – not a bad start, but in Cuba, you don’t visit with people between 12:30 and 2 while they eat and siesta. We only had two appointments for the afternoon, so our double portion goal did not look promising.
We went back to the church for a while, and set out again at around 2:30. We were scheduled to meet with a woman named Ada first, and my hope for answered prayers increased when we discovered she happened to have her daughter-in-law, Zulema, and a friend, Yjielem, visiting.
We spent a long time with them. Zulema looked busy sewing and Yjielem sat casually while RePete and I shared how God loved each of them. We talked about love, sin, grace, and what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus. Gradually, Zulema stopped sewing. She and Yjielem started talking. Each of the three ladies shared about their lives and how they hadn’t ever heard this good news.
At the end of our conversation, I told them about how God gives us a choice and we can choose if we want to love him back. There wasn’t a dry eye in the home as all three of them chose to accept Jesus into their lives.
God had answered our prayers for a double portion! But God wasn’t done – we had time to squeeze in one last appointment with Ada’s next-door neighbor, and that woman accepted Christ, too!
As we crammed back into the van at the end of the day, we were full of joy. God is good. God is faithful. We prayed for a double portion and God gave us a double plus one!
I read somewhere that bold prayers honor God and God honors bold prayers. I experienced this personally in Cuba and my trust in God has grown exponentially. How many incredible stories will we have to share this time next year after praying for a Real Life double portion? I know I can’t wait to find out.