Joel Vasquez had a dream. He wasn’t much of a night dreamer, but this one woke him with such a start that he woke his wife, Trinidad, from a very sound sleep.
“What’s wrong?” she asked after she found the light switch.
“I had a dream,” Joel answered. “It was a loud dream—a voice shouted out to me.”
“What did it say?” Trinidad really just wanted to go back to sleep, but now she was actually a little bit interested in Joel’s dream.
“The man in my dream said that he’s going to build a church on the vacant lot across from our house. It’s going to be God’s true church!”
“You’re crazy, Joel.” Trinidad said. “Go back to sleep.”
* * *
And he did, almost forgetting the dream. Until six months later when he was attending a seminar in another city. During one of the meetings a man from Argentina stood up and asked if there was someone in the audience whose name was Joel Vasquez. Joel reluctantly stood and said, “That’s me, I think.”
“I have a message for you,” the man said. “God has told me to tell you that He is going to build a church on the vacant lot across from your house. And it’s going to be God’s true church.”
Joel was so surprised that he could hardly wait to tell Trinidad. But when he told her that the man had said the same thing that he’d heard in the dream six months earlier, she was angry and called him “loco” (crazy).
A whole year went by and Joel almost forgot the dream. Then the dream came again, but this time it was different.
“Joel,” the voice said. “Save the vacant lot for Me. I need it so that I can build My true church there.”
This time Joel didn’t awaken Trinidad to tell her the dream. In the morning he went to find out who owned the vacant lot across the street. When he found the owner, he told him the story of the two dreams and the man from Argentina.
The landowner laughed, but finally allowed Joel to rent the land and build a fence around it to “save the vacant lot for God’s true church.”
Joel put up a fence around the lot and waited to see what God would do. He waited almost a year, but no one would even talk to him about the vacant lot or the church.
Then one evening a stranger knocked on his door.
“Hello, my name is Nelson,” the visitor said. “I am the leader of a small group of Seventh-day Adventists in the community. We’ve outgrown the place where we’ve been meeting. We would like to talk with you about purchasing the vacant lot across the street so we can build a church there. It will be God’s true church!”
Joel almost fainted with excitement. Then he asked Nelson two questions.
“Do you believe in Jesus Christ as personal Saviour and Creator?”
“Yes, definitely,” Nelson answered.
“Would you be willing to study the Bible with my family so we can learn about your church?”
“Yes, certainly. Could we start tonight?” Nelson answered.
Joel called Trinidad to meet Nelson. After listening, she laughed out loud and said they were both crazy.
The next day Joel helped Nelson purchase the vacant lot. Then he helped the church members clear all the rubbish out of the lot. When Nelson began giving Bible studies in Joel’s house, Trinidad refused to come. But she hid in the kitchen and listened through the door, sometimes even following along in her Bible.
* * *
Neither Joel nor Nelson had enough money to build a church on the lot, but they kept preparing and planning and praying for God to make their church dreams come true.
Then they heard the best news ever. Maranatha Volunteers International had agreed to build the new church! Before the volunteers could begin work, the lot would need to be covered by 14 truckloads of good fill dirt. Now the prayers had a date attached, along with a new challenge!
“But, Lord, we have no truck, no dirt, and no money,” they prayed.
“God, we need 14 truckloads of good dirt. This is for the El Shaday church, Lord. Remember us? We know you are the all-powerful God who can do anything—even provide us with 14 truckloads of dirt.”
One Wednesday night, only two weeks before the volunteers were scheduled to arrive, Nelson was driving to prayer meeting when he heard God tell him to drive down a road he had never used. “I can’t do that! I’ll be late!” he argued.
God told him to turn anyway. “Right now!”
Nelson turned down the lane and practically ran into a dump truck. They both stopped and Nelson got out to apologize.
“I am so sorry to almost drive into you,” he told the driver. “And by the way, we don’t have any money, but we need 14 loads of the best dirt in Chillán. Would you be willing to bring that much dirt to the vacant corner lot where Maranatha is going to build us a new church?”
The driver thought a moment, then said, “Sure. I have some extra dirt, and I’d love to do that for you. What if I start tomorrow?”
Ask for dirt, and it shall be given to you.
Two weeks later a group of Maranatha volunteers came to El Shaday and began building a church on lovely dirt on the vacant lot. Nelson helped the volunteers. Joel helped the volunteers. And Joel’s children and grandchildren helped the volunteers.
So did Trinidad. She was there every day, humming spiritual songs as she helped clean bricks, bake beans, set out meals, and encourage everyone.
Even before the roof was on the new church, Trinidad walked over to the baptistry by the platform. She stood beside it and said, “I have decided that this baptistry is like the front door to heaven. I want to be baptized in it with my husband, Joel, and with all 22 of our family members.”