When Don’s motorcycle careens into a ravine, he knows God must be trying to save him.
“Would you be willing to treat my father?” our friend Fabricio asked after finishing his own course of dental treatments at Shalom Dental Office. “He is not an Adventist, but he needs to see a dentist and I know your kindness would bless him.”
“Of course,” I replied. “Everyone is welcome at Shalom, whether or not they can pay. What is your father’s name?”
“Don Oscar,” Fabricio replied. “Muchas gracias.”
“Buenos dias!” Fernando Moreira, our Bible worker, greeted Don at his first appointment. On days when we have new patients, Fernando serves as our receptionist so he can get acquainted with them. While Don waited for his turn in the dental chair, Fernando talked to him about the Word of God. Before Don left the office that day, he had agreed to start weekly Bible studies!
Fabricio hadn’t mentioned it, but at Don’s first appointment we found out that he suffers from visual impairment. About three months into his Bible studies, Don finally told the story of how he had lost his sight. “Eight years ago, Leonora and I lived in a remote community called San Francisco,” he told us. “We had heard of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and her father had even given us Bible studies, but we did not want to give our lives to Christ.” He sighed. “I had many vices in my life. One of the worst was my deeply rooted habit of liquor drinking.”
Don paused, a pained look on his face. “One day I went out to the fair in the village of Gallupe and met up with my drinking buddies, and we decided to go and have a few. As the day wore on, I remembered that Leonora had told me that if I did not return to the house promptly, she would leave me. Often, I would hang out in bars for several days and come home so drunk that I hardly remembered what happened. So today, I decided I had better go home.
“I got on my motorcycle and buzzed toward San Francisco. As I neared my parents’ house on the way to my own, the motorcycle slipped off the road, and I felt myself falling, falling. With horror, I realized that I must have driven into the ravine two kilometers from my parents’ home. How far I might fall, only God knew!”
Don’s eyes looked misty as he told the rest of the story. The fall had been excruciating, but even as he landed, he could see the hand of God in the accident. God wanted to save him—that was obvious. Yet he felt like he might die right where he had landed. How deep had he fallen? Would anyone find him? His thoughts swirled into blackness.
The next thing Don knew, cold water washed over his head, waking him from his stupor. When he reached to take off his helmet, it fell off in two pieces. He felt no pain, but he did have a huge problem: He could not see. “God!” he cried. “Please, get me out of this hole!” In tears, he groped for the canyon wall. How could he scale this steep ascent? His hand grasped a thick root, and with this handhold he began to climb.
“I knew that I needed to get out of the ravine and up to the road,” Don said, “but not being able to see made it very disorienting. How far would I have to climb? Would God hear my cry for help? Would He listen to a rotten sinner like me? Did He care enough to get me out of the mess I had put myself into?”
“I could feel something giving me strength to find footholds and keep climbing,” Don recalled. “I don’t know how long it took me to scale the side of the canyon, but at last, after I had climbed what must have been about 10 meters, I realized that I was at the top, standing on the road. I was so excited that I jumped up and down!”
Even after he had made it out of the ravine, Don still had to walk to his parents’ house two kilometers away. Although he could distinguish only shadows and light, he found his way, and his parents took him immediately to the hospital. “I’m sorry,” the doctor informed him, “but it appears that the blow you suffered to your head caused the blood to concentrate in the retinas, which means the damage is most likely irreversible. We will send you to Quito for further testing.” In Quito, specialists confirmed the findings: Don would never regain his vision.
“I wanted to blame Leonor for demanding that I come home, but I knew the accident wasn’t her fault,” Don told us. “It was my fault for drinking liquor. I needed to take responsibility for my own actions.”
After the accident, Don’s friends deserted him. “They were only there when I had money to pay for their alcohol,” he said. “Leonor took good care of me, though. I thank God that I am alive.” He smiled. “Now, the church members visit me. They have shown me that there are people who care. I know who my true friends are.”
“Thanks for sharing your story, Don,” Bible worker Fernando told him. “You know, I believe you will recover your sight even yet. Continue in the Lord, and He will heal your eyes when He grants you eternal life. Only give yourself to Him and allow Him to work in your life, and you will obtain the crown of glory when He comes.”
“I know,” Don beamed. “God has a plan for my life. I am willing, now, to follow His leading.” A shadow crossed his face. “I need to marry my dear Leonor. We have lived together for 20 years, but that doesn’t substitute for a marriage commitment.”
“We would love to host a church wedding for you,” Fernando encouraged him.
“Yes,” he nodded. “And I want to finish the Bible studies and be baptized soon.” From that day forward, we could see Don’s life had been changed. He finished his Bible studies and soon after committed himself to the Lord in baptism and to Leonor in marriage.
We thank God that through His help, we can minister to people in a practical way at Shalom Dental Office! We thank Him, too, that through your support, we can employ a full-time Bible worker to visit with families and individuals like Don, seeking to bring them to Christ. As we all share God’s Word with our patients, we often claim His promise: “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, . . . So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10, 11, NKJV. Thank God that His Word did its work in Don’s life!
Fernando Endara is the co-director of Shalom Healthy Living Center in Ecuador.
How You Can Help
Pray for Dr. Gaby and Fernando as they reach the communities around them through their dental ministry.
Pray for Don Oscar’s walk with Jesus to deepen and strengthen.
Give to help reach the poverty-stricken area of northern Ecuador. Send your check marked “Ecuador” to:
Mission Projects International
PO Box 151
Inchelium, WA 99138
To give securely online, visit:
Thank you! Your donations support one Bible worker and help sustain Dr. Gaby and Fernando’s dental ministry. Thank you for your generosity!