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He Called My Name

God mentions Saul by name to Ananias and tells him to help Saul, and He did something similar for me.

Do you remember the story in the book of Acts in which Saul becomes blind when he meets Jesus on the road to Damascus? In order to help Saul see again, God gives Ananias a vision, telling him to “inquire in the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus named Saul; for behold, he is praying” (Acts 9:11, RSV). I love this story because it affirms my belief in God’s unlimited knowledge about us and His care for us. But there is another reason this story is special to me: God mentions Saul by name to Ananias and tells him to help Saul, and He did something similar for me.

My experience happened when I was a doctoral student at the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS) in the Philippines. I was struggling to finance my education. My children, to whom I’m very grateful, were able to send me a little money from Africa to help buy food and pay rent. But they had families of their own, and money was tight. I soon found myself indebted to AIIAS for a semester of tuition and housing.

AIIAS was kind to me. They bore with me, hoping that I could find a way to clear my debt. But my debt only increased. Eventually, I was summoned by the finance department and told that I must either clear my debt or leave the country. They explained that students with debt cannot register, and that without being registered, I was no longer eligible for a student visa.

I was asked to prepare a reimbursement plan so that they could allow me to stay. It seemed so hopeless. I walked home to my apartment that night and cried. I asked my wife and youngest daughter to join me in giving this burden to Jesus, and then crawled in bed.

But I couldn’t sleep. All through the night I tossed and turned, praying that God would help me. Finally, I decided to ask my children in Africa to sell my vehicle and proposed that, since they were all living in our family home, they each contribute some money as if they were paying rent. They accepted my suggestion, enabling me to make a reimbursement plan for AIIAS. They weren’t able to help immediately due to their own financial difficulties, but they were able to sell my car, and I put that income toward my reimbursement plan.

It was during that all-night prayer vigil that God had mercy on me. Amazingly, He gave a dream to an elderly woman named Yung who lived in South Korea. He gave her very specific information about me, just as He had given Ananias about Saul. He told Yung “There is an African student at AIIAS called Rodolfo who is facing serious financial difficulties with his studies. Go and help him.” Yung awoke from her dream, but she forgot about it as she went about her daily tasks. That night she had the very same dream.

The next week, a classmate named Pastor Kim called to tell me that a pastor friend of his had arrived from South Korea and wanted to meet me at my apartment. Pastor Kim told me that I should hurry because the pastor had to return right away—he had made a special trip to see me. The pastor also requested that I bring a letter of gratitude for Sister Yung.

Who is Sister Yung? I wondered. Andwhy should I write a letter of gratitude to someone I don’t know? I had many questions for Pastor Kim, but there was no time to explain.

When the two men came to my apartment, Pastor Kim introduced Pastor Joseph. My wife and I served refreshments, then sat down, eager to hear their story.

“God has called your name to Sister Yung in a dream,” said Pastor Joseph. “He asked her to help you with your studies at AIIAS. Sister Yung is sick, so she asked me to bring you this envelope. I need proof that it was given to the right person, so please write a word of gratitude, acknowledging that you received it.”

Dumbfounded, I wrote a note of appreciation and thanked Pastor Joseph for coming. He offered a quick prayer for my family and studies, then left.

I’ve sometimes wondered whether Sister Yung and Pastor Joseph were real people or angels. I tried to contact them several times and have never received a response. What I do know is that the contents of that envelope allowed me to clear my debt with AIIAS for the semester and continue paying for my studies the next semester. Today, I have finished my doctoral program, and I am serving the Lord in one of His institutions in Mexico as a missionary with my family.

If you’re going through a hard time, I want to encourage you to continue trusting our Father. He knows us all by name as well as all our needs. As surely as He feeds the birds of the air, He will take care of us as we submit our petitions to His throne of grace.

Born in Equatorial Guinea, Africa, Rodolfo Segorbe Nach, PhD, serves as associate professor of theology at Linda Vista University in Mexico. For the past 35 years, he has enjoyed a varied career as a pastor, administrator, and teacher.

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