Feeding on Faithfulness
a story about my brother
As a child, my brother, Samuel, rescued a dog headed for the pound. He hid it in his room, afraid that my parents wouldn't let him keep it. It didn't make sense. My dad did the same by rescuing dogs, birds with broken wings and turtles strolling down the road.
When my brother was five years old, he met a homeless man in front of the grocery store. Samuel asked our mother for a dollar but she only had 35 cents in her purse. Just enough to buy the man a McDonald's hamburger. Those simple childhood moments defined him – shaping him into an amazing man of God – in ways we could have never imagined.
We were raised in a semi-suburban neighborhood, near the edge of the town of Milpitas, California. Our parents were working class people. We grew up with a roof over our heads and enough to eat. By the time I graduated high school, everything had changed. My parents were laid off with thousands of other people in Silicon Valley. Our mom was forced to pay the mortgage payment with her 401K.
I left home and moved to Hawaii. Looking back, I wish I had stayed. Living on the edge of losing everything was too much for my teenage brother. He felt the weight of our financial situation but didn't know what to do about it. After several years of trying their best to hold on, my parents sold their home and moved to Hawaii.
It sounds glamorous but it wasn't. They rented a tiny trailer home. Our father was disabled and my mom worked at Walmart to make ends meet. Things got better and worse all at the same time. Our mom found a better job but it was on the other side of the island. My brother didn't want to lose his job so he stayed behind. Rent was high so Samuel slept on the beach. Homeless by choice. It was a very hard time.
One day he called me, desperate for help. Within a few weeks, he moved to Texas to stay with my husband and I. Together, we helped my brother carve out a new life for himself. He began attending Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas. He absorbed the godly teaching and guidance like a sponge. And he didn't just learn, he got involved by serving.
When his inner man found purpose and passion, it was finally time for a new smile. My brother was born with a cleft lip and palate. Back then, the doctors advised waiting until a child had fully grown before attempting the final corrective surgery. But by the time he was of age, my parents no longer had dental insurance. In his mid-twenties, my brother barely had any teeth left.
On a whim, I asked my personal dentist if she knew of anyone that could help us, and she immediately recommended a surgeon at Baylor School of Dentistry in Dallas, Texas. Our uncle shouldered the cost of the surgery. Today my brother has a full and complete smile.
But more importantly, his spirit is healed and set free.
Since joining Gateway Church, my brother discovered a passion for missions. His life has taken many twists and turns, but all along, he has maintained a steadfast commitment to the marginalized and underserved.
When he's not working as a rock wall builder or demolition man, my brother is on the international mission fields of Uganda, Mexico, Kenya, Israel, and Guatemala. He's also involved in domestic missions, traveling all over Texas and Louisiana.
During a recent long-tern assignment in Kenya, my brother met a group of street kids that captured his heart. In many ways, it's not surprising. At two years old, our father became a ward of the court, abandoned by his parents. He often said that being rejected by living parents had been unbearable. A beloved family member, a woman well into her sixties, took our dad and his two brothers into her home to raise. Now it's my brothers turn to provide refuge. Sam's heart is to help change the stars for these young kids.
Samuel is living proof that God is faithful, loving and good through the hardships, emotional turmoil and physical pain that life may force upon us. Without God, our suffering is purposeless but with God, there is a plan. I am so proud of my brother, the missionary.