Stephen Burke's book entitled "The LORD Will Provide" documents the entire miraculous journey of God's call on Stephen and his brother Patrick. Here is a copy of an E-mail Stephen sent during this amazing ride that gives you a taste of what's to come:
The passage spoke powerfully to me too and so for an hour we discussed these verses. Then, a couple of days later while I was in my office I picked up a book called "The Ways of God" by Henry Blackaby and Roy T. Edgemon. Sometimes I will take a moment in my office to read a paragraph or a page of this book until I am finished with it. I was somewhere in the middle of the book where I had left off the last time days before and there again was Isaiah chapter 6. Again, the verses made a strong impression on me. After this second time I was really impressed to learn more about God's holiness. I went to a Christian bookstore and was lead to purchase a book by RC Sproul called, "The Holiness of God." I began reading that very evening and there it was again, Isaiah chapter 6.
Three times in 10 days... then I went on vacation to Virginia to visit my sister and her family. My brother-in-law is a pastor there. During the service he had the congregation turn to a responsive reading which is a reading in which he reads and then the congregation responds. The responsive reading was again Isaiah chapter 6. Then he announced, "Let's sing the old hymn, 'Send Me.' "
By now I understand the Lord is showing me Isaiah chapter 6, but I don't know what He's trying to say. I want to know so I ask Him to show me.
I end up at the same Christian bookstore and am lead to purchase another book this time on CD by Henry Blackaby called, "Hearing God's Voice." As I listened I began to feel my entire spirit move in line with God's will.
It was followed by an incredible peace within me and I knew, "Steve you have definitely been called to serve in the mission field, but it wasn't time to go yet.
A couple of days later I even shared with those I work with the entire story I have shared with you so far and there I was asking and waiting on God to show me the rest when He was ready. I didn't have to wait long.
The very next weekend my wife Connie and I were in Dallas visiting. We had dropped the kids off at Six Flags and decided to pop in on my brother Pat who owns a soccer store in Mesquite. He was working. I was looking around the store when all of a sudden Pat asked me a very strange question, "Steve, have you ever been to Guatemala?" "No," was my reply, "Why?" "No reason." Then about fifteen minutes later with his head buried in his work behind the checkout counter he said, "Steve, I'm going to Guatemala." "What? Why? What are you talking about? Are you going to visit?" Pat said, "I'm going to visit." "What are you going to go there for?" I asked. "I'm going to work with a kind of refugee camp that helps immigrants who are on their way to the United States from South America."
I said, "Did you have a dream, a vision or what?" He said, "I had a vision and then he added, "Steve, you and Chaplain Jaime were there too."
"What were we doing there?" I asked. "We will build a
church and a school there and Jaime will preach at the church and Steve,
you will be the liaison between support in the states and this mission.
Steve, this will be huge. We will have a 2,000-acre ranch with five
houses on it that will be self-sufficient. Local families will be housed
there and they will grow crops and raise animals there that will be
used to keep food on the tables for the immigrants and us.
On the drive home I shared my brother's vision with my wife Connie reluctantly as I wasn't sure how my wife would respond to this news. She didn't say much, but asked to use my cell phone to call her mother out in Odessa, Texas. Her mother was glad to hear from her saying she had just gotten off the phone with Connie's brother Mark who lives in Kansas City. She said they were just getting last minutes preparations made before they would leave later in the week on a mission trip to Guatemala.
"Guatemala!" Connie exclaimed as she turned to look at me. After she finished conversing with her mom, Connie hung up and said, "I guess we should call my brother when they get back from Guatemala to see what's going on down there." I agreed.
The next evening I called my brother in Mesquite to get more details
about his vision. He said he was sound asleep at 1 AM when his dog started
barking outside his window and woke him up so he went out on the couch.
He tossed and turned finally getting up to read Romans chapter 12 and
as he got to the verse explaining how we all have different gifts he
had the vision. "How did you know it was Guatemala?" I asked.
He said he didn't know, he just saw it and knew it was the country below
Mexico. He explained that he had barely even heard of Guatemala so he
had to spend time on the Internet that morning to see where it was on
the global map. And there it was at the southern most border of Mexico
sandwiched between Mexico and South America.
The dream made such a strong impression on me that I shared it with one of my staff persons the next day. As Pat finished telling me the details of his dream he told me that we would be buying this ranch... "Steve, we're going to come in to a lot of money." What?" I replied. "Millions of dollars Steve." "Oh, Pat." I said, and I told him about my dream. We were both amazed at God's handiwork. What an awesome God we serve! I remember thinking I don't even know anyone from Guatemala.
The next day was a Monday and I called a friend of mine to tell her about this amazing series of events. She said, "I have a really good friend from Guatemala. Her name is Laura." I almost fell out of my chair. "I know her!" I exclaimed. I just met her two weeks ago at a dinner gathering. She went on a mission trip to Mexico with the Jr. High youth from our church this summer. My son was one of the missionaries.
A few days later I was able to share this story with Laura. Laura, an only child, had lost her father when she was one. Laura's mother went to be with the Lord three years ago. However, Laura still had an aunt and uncle who lived in Guatemala. As I shared the story with her she listened intently. Upon finishing she said, "I grew up in Austin although I spent summers in Guatemala visiting family. I have an aunt and an uncle who live there and Steve, they've been praying for many years for what sounds just like what you've told me." She would make phone calls to her aunt as soon as she could to find out exactly what her aunt and uncle have been praying for and how God had put this on their hearts. Two days ago Laura was able to speak with her aunt and as she shared this story her aunt got goosebumps. "This is exactly what we've been praying for." She has offered to be our host as we travel to Guatemala and continue this incredible journey.
The First Trip
The Friday before the trip I had met with Rebecca O'Banion at Hope for the Hungry in Belton, Texas which is close to where I live. I shared with her all that had been happening with regards to Guatemala. She told me she had only one missionary in Guatemala and pulled her file to discover her name was Teri Littrell and her location was near a city called Totonicapan, Guatemala. That was our one and only clue as to where we were to begin our search. I called Teri Littrell from the airport in Atlanta as we awaited our Guatemala connection. She was just finishing up a three-week vacation at her parents' home in Michigan. She was very kind and gave me clear directions to her mission called "Escudo de Fe" or Shield of Faith. She told me to ask for Maria or Marta when we arrived. She told me it was about a four-hour drive from Guatemala City which disheartened me. On my map of Guatemala the drive looked like it should take less than one hour. I thought it would take much longer than the two days we had to look at all the cities in the area northwest of Guatemala City.
We arrived at the mission after a 3-hour plus drive up and down newly paved mountain roads and met up with Maria and Marta. I had brought some clothes and Spanish books and Bibles for them. As I was unloading my suitcase I heard a voice ask in English "Who are you?" I looked up to see an American girl who turned out to be from the twin cities area in Minnesota. I was not expecting to see another American and she was not expecting to see us. I told her of how we had learned of her mission from Hope for the Hungry and how I'd gotten directions to the mission from Teri Littrell. She was very happy to see us and we were happy to see her.
We shared our story of how we were brought to Guatemala as she listened
with interest. We stayed over an hour and left with leads to possible
towns that might have the signature building in it. We ended up looking
at probably 25 towns and cities totally ignoring the city that most
everyone we met had mentioned this building might be...the city of Antigua.
Our hosts Olga and Anton had ruled out the city as a possibility because
it was such a large tourist city and the property around the city was
most likely extremely expensive. But after nearly two full days of driving
up and down mountain roads, paved and unpaved we were running out of
options. So on the afternoon of our second and final day I got to thinking
God specializes in doing the impossible. What we would think could never
work would be exactly what God would choose. That way everyone would
know that it was God alone who made it happen. So we decided to make
the thirty-minute drive to Antigua (Antigua is more than a two-hour
drive from the Teri Littrell's mission near Totonicapan).
We arrived in Antigua and drove all over the city, but didn't see the signature building we were looking for. We stopped in at the local city hall where records were kept of every building in Antigua and with the assistance of an employee we didn't find anything there. However, the young man who was assisting us was studying to be an architect. And like all good architects he had artistic ability. My brother Pat described his vision of this signature building to him and he drew it our perfectly.
My brother said, "That's it!" I exclaimed, "That looks like the Alamo!"
With the picture in hand we stopped to eat for the first time that day at a popular fast food establishment in Antigua called "Pollo Campero."
Its similar to a KFC. The place was packed, but we were able to find a table.
By now it was after 2 PM and we were running out of daylight. It gets dark just after 6 PM in Guatemala. "Necesitamos un milagro." I said to Olga since I had just learned the word. We need a miracle. I said a prayer over the meal and asked the Lord for the miracle he had prompted to show us where we were to go next. It was up to Him.
Just as we started eating I noticed a young man and woman probably in their early twenties sitting at a booth right next to us. I thought they might be European. I kept trying to overhear their conversation, but was having no luck. Just then the young man stood up and on the back of his shirt were words in English that said something I don't recall now about God. I thought they might be missionaries, but I still had not heard them well enough to know what language they were speaking. And at that moment I heard him excuse himself from their booth in English. As he left their booth I asked her where they were from. "Minnesota," she replied. "What are you doing in Guatemala?" I continued. She replied, "We're here studying Spanish because we're going to be missionaries here." Then she asked why my brother and I had made the trip to Guatemala. "It's a long story," I said, "We're looking for a city near which we are to build a mission. I have it written out if you'll give me a minute I'll get a copy of it from the car." She was interested. I returned with the Guatemala story and, by then, the young man had returned. They introduced themselves as Erin and Ryan and read the story together while Pat, Olga, Anton and I continued to eat our lunch.
They came over to the table asking more questions. Where have you looked so far? I tarted from the beginning, "We began our search at a small village near Totonicapan. The woman who was in charge of the mission was on vacation, but we were pleasantly surprised to meet an American girl there named Jenny. She was from Minnesota... the twin cities area."
"We're from there too the young people informed me... did you happen to remember what town she was from?" they asked. "No." Then I mentioned that the woman who was in charge of the mission was on vacation at her parents' home in Michigan. Her name is Teri Littrell. "What?" they exclaimed. "We're picking her up from the airport on Thursday!" The air was thick with excitement. They then recalled the name I had given them earlier. "Jenny! Jenny from Minnesota! We do know her! She came to our church in Minnesota and shared her testimony and the story of her work in Guatemala. It's because of her story that we came to Guatemala!" The air was electric as we made this miraculous connection in the middle of a fast food chicken place in Antigua.
The story continued as Ryan and Erin shared the story of what happened
next on their journey to Guatemala. Days after they had committed to
making the trip to Guatemala they went to the Minnesota State Fair.
They ran across a booth of someone selling wares from Guatemala. They
approached the woman who was in the booth expecting her to be from some
place other than Guatemala. As it turned out, she really was from
Without so much as a confirmation phone call before leaving Minnesota, Ryan and Erin flew to Guatemala. From the airport they dialed the number only to find out that the woman they had met in Minnesota was still out of the country. However, they shared the story with the woman who answered the phone and who happened to be the woman's sister. Upon hearing their story she sent a car out to pick them up. They had been in Guatemala a few days when we met them at "Pollo Campero."
The pair of missionaries had traveled to Antigua via local transportation so we offered them a ride to their home. We felt that since this was such a miraculous meeting that the Lord had more in store for us. "What is the name of the town where you are staying?" we asked. "San Antonio Aguas Calientes" was Ryan's reply. "SAN ANTONIO?" Could the building that looks like the Alamo be in San Antonio Aguas Calientes?
We arrived at the woman's home that was located on the lower edge of the south mountain overlooking the city. The view was beautiful. We looked off toward the northwest mountain which is the vantage point he had in his vision. Pat thought the area looked right and asked our San Antonio Aguas Calientes hostess if there was a small road or path that went up the northwest mountain. "Why, yes there is," was her reply. From our vantage point we could not see if there was a building that looked like the Alamo, but quite possibly the building has not been built yet. We might even be the ones who build it as many have suggested. Pat's vision was of the completed "ranch" or "refugee camp."
way, I will start my second trip to Guatemala in San Antonio Aguas Calientes.
I am planning to go in mid-October. I will keep you posted as the Lord
continues to amaze us all as we strive to fulfill His plan in Guatemala.
We invite you to order Steve Burke's book, "The LORD Will Provide" through our convenient online store for only $10.99.
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