Editor’s Note: This is a report from Erinn Kanney and Lori Peck, two members of the current Journey Generation 27. It recounts the tale of journeying with another Generation 27 member, Pastor Manuel from Cuba.
Pastor Manuel, Yordanka, Elizabeth, Ernesto, Siri and Ramon, Erinn & Lori took a Journey. It started with a friendship, meals, sharing living spaces and a road trip adventure from Calif to Florida. Destination à Orlando where Pastor Manuel & Yordanka felt led to begin a new chapter of their ministry.
Generation 27 – The Journey is where we first met Pastor Manuel & Yordanka.
Their story is one of experiencing answered prayers while waiting well and relying on God’s ever-present faithfulness. After returning from a Journey retreat last year, Pastor Manuel was called to preach for 52 days in various United States cities, and later, led to apply for their US Visa’s. Their churches in Cuba began fasting & seeking the Lord’s guidance for their visa applications. During the interview with the US embassy in Cuba, Manuel boldly stated his purpose and mission was to preach the Lord Jesus Christ and plant churches, and they miraculously received a five year religious Visa.
Next stop – California, where they sought opportunities to preach and church plant.
They were met with cultural shock, trials and difficulties, including moving a family of 6 between Bell Flower, San Diego, Compton, and Tustin within a short few months. They encountered the unexpected disappointment of limited pastoral opportunities. In spite of all this adversity and unexpected closed doors, they were met with a welcoming family who provided a minivan for them to use, a place to stay - they even generously gifted them the car title. This minivan has been essential for their ministry and daily life and is just one of many examples of how God has provided along the way!
After waiting well, the Villanueva family accepted an invitation to move to Florida. With their church community, friends and Generation 27 fellow Journeyers supporting them, they prepared to move once again.
This is where Erinn and Lori from Generation 27 come in – we thought it wise to caravan together. With two cars loaded up, luggage, snacks and hearts full of anticipation – the California to Florida trip started.
Circle K: Seeds sown in Cuba – Harvested in Florida
New Cuban friends found at a Florida Circle K, 3,000+ miles from California “home.”
I (Lori) will fast forward to Day 6 of our journey. This was a day we discovered we had a very important appointment arranged by God…little did we know the amazing surprise that awaited us!
As we had been traveling for six days, everyone was feeling tired and ready for another rest stop. There were 2 gas stations/mini marts as options, one on each corner.
I said in jest to Erinn, “Why don’t we stop at Circle K this time, we’ve seen a thousand Shell stations?”
So, we pulled in the Circle K for a much-needed pit stop.
While waiting in the shop, Pastor Manuel said we should all get a sandwich. As we were waiting in the Subway line of customers, Pastor Manuel and Jordanka start talking to a Cuban family. As it would turn out, this family knew one of their mutual friends in Cuba. Amazing! What are the chances!
And to make this chance encounter even more clearly stamped with God’s divine touch, Jordanka had been ministering to this mutual friend for a few years!!!
This mutual friend told the Cuban family that we just happened to meet that at this Circle K, if you should ever meet the Villanueva family who live in California now, please let them know I accepted Christ. This person who requested this message be passed along had just accepted Christ the previous evening, which was day 5 of our road trip!
Isn’t that incredible!
As God’s previous-ness and intention make clear, He made it so that it would just so happen we would stop at that Circle K, choose to get a sandwich in that particular Subway and stand in that particular line, and meet that particular Cuban family who just happened to also be traveling across the United States.
Everyone was truly teary-eyed and felt this was one of many affirmations and God’s confirmations we were blessed to receive. He is faithful and the decision to move to Florida was clearly a good one.
This is our God – El Roi the one who sees, who saw 3 families and a Circle K.
They finished their Journey with a warm greeting by the pastoral families in Kissimmee, FL, where they resided for a short while. And as circumstances would shift again by God’s hand, the Villanueva family pressed on to a new home in North Carolina.
The Journey continues…..
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. - Lamentations 3:23-24