The Republic of Palau

Just like that, it was all gone. Stolen!

I had gone with a group of fellow missionaries to a party at our host family’s house, where we were planning to spend the night. I’d left a bag of personal belongings and some gifts in the back of the van without a second thought—until we came back outside from the party. The gifts and my backpack containing my overnight clothes, my computer, and my Bible—by far one of my most valuable possessions—were gone!

I thought to myself, Why did this happen? The computer was new, and my Bible was one I’d had for several years. It was full of notes I’d made and thoughts I’d written about my experience as a believer. It was irreplaceable.

Nearly every missionary goes through moments when we wonder whether we made the right decision by coming to our host country. Any negative situation easily intensifies these doubts. That night, even in the midst of my fourth year in Palau, I felt these misgivings even more strongly.

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I was greatly surprised a few days later when the secretary of the local Adventist church found my bag on the steps of the church. I was thrilled to get my Bible back but the computer was gone, and I was sure I’d never see it again.

Many other challenges arose throughout the remaining school year, leaving me burned out. I was relieved to go home to the United States for the summer, but God wasn’t going to leave me in my discouragement.

I was scheduled to speak at a summer camp for a week, and their theme verse happened to be my favorite Bible text, Isaiah 40:31, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

For the many times I’d read that verse, it never occurred to me to read verse 27, the initial verse of the passage: “Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord, and my just claim is passed over by my God?’” (NKJV).

A thought struck me: these verses were the answer to the very question I had been asking myself for the past seven months. I had wondered why God was making me go through the tough things I was experiencing. But I was reminded that He knew and cared about it all, and He was going to renew me. His Word gave me the encouragement I needed to share with the campers just how awesome He is. And praise God, several campers made decisions for Christ by the week’s end.

At the end of the summer, I returned to Palau to serve another year. There at a local restaurant, I ran into an acquaintance. “Hey, Corey, we need to talk,” he said, walking outside with me. “Did you lose something recently?” he asked.

“Not recently,” I replied. “But about eight months ago, some of my things were stolen, including a computer.”

He then proceeded to tell me that he had bought a computer from a guy, who had bought a computer from another guy who had stolen it. “When I turned it on,” he said, “I recognized your first name on the login screen. Think it could be yours?” I couldn’t believe it. He later gave me back my computer, which I had written off as long gone.

It was nothing short of a miracle, nothing short of God demonstrating just how good He is. I didn’t do anything to deserve to have all of my stolen items returned. And I know that during those months, my faith wasn’t the strongest. But God came through for me, and after getting everything back, I have more than I had before—because  I now have a testimony. Every time I use my Bible or my computer, it’s a reminder of God’s grace.

I don’t know what you’re going through, but I do know that God cares for you. He cares about every detail in your life, even things you may have written off. You never know when He’s going to come through, shock you with a miracle, and inspire you to continue to share His goodness with those around you.

Hanging out with some of my students at Palau Mission Academy.
Posing with the kindergarten class at Palau SDA Elementary.
Teaching my junior Bible class at Palau Mission Academy.

Corey Johnson graduated from Southern Adventist University in the United States and currently volunteers as the chaplain and Bible teacher for Palau Mission Academy.