Dad Knew More Then… And Now!

When I was in my sophomore year of college, I met some Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) missionaries who simply managed to turned my world upside down. Through their influence, I became passionate about going to Africa, but God had other plans. Now, I am not one of those people who say, “The last place I wanted to go to was Africa and guess where God sent me as a missionary?” I don’t particularly like that because it almost sounds like a punishment.

In my case it would be: “I wanted to go to Africa but God sent me to America instead!” And that is definitely not a punishment either. My God is not a cosmic-kill-joy-sadistic-old-tyrant wringing his hands as He anticipates delivering bad news to unsuspecting believers! James said that “He gives us good and perfect gifts” and Matthew went even further: “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Coming to the U.S. was a gift for me and despite all of its shortcomings, I have learned to love my adopted country.

How I ended up coming to the U.S. is quite a story, but how I ended up not going to Africa is even more interesting. One of those missionaries was a man by the name of Al Graham, whom I met for the first time on a side street of Belém — he gave me a free loaf of bread the first time I ever met him! A little later I saw him walking on his hands — on the street! This man was the first grown man I met who cried openly without shame. He cried every time he talked about the people of the Satere tribe in northern Brazil – with whom he was working to translate the Bible in their language. He was always moved by how far removed from God they seemed to be.

Mr. Graham’s attitude touched me so deeply. I wanted to understand where that kind of love for people without God came from. So with his other other people’s help, I went to the Capital city of Brazil three summers in a roll to get training in Linguistics, Anthropology, and jungle survival so I could become a Bible translator. And in my mind, I was already in  Africa.

That is, until I went back home on a summer break and had a talk with my dad. I said, “Dad, I believe God is wanting me to go to Africa. I want to quit college and become a Bible translator.” My dad said, “That’s great, son, but if you want to do that, you will have to finish college first.”

End of conversation. In the Trindade family the children never acquired any skills in the area of contradicting their parents. Fifteen years later, when I had already completed my Masters Degree and found myself without financial support from my church job, I had to thank my dad for telling me to go back to school and finish college. I was able to get a job teaching at my alma mater because I had completed my education.

So a warning to kids: Sometimes moms and dads do actually know what they are talking about!

Ivanildo C. Trindade