God Had Other Plans
By Andrew McChesney
As she finished high school, Jo-Anna Clayton devised a plan for college.
For the first year, she would enroll in a community college near home in the U.S. state of West Virginia.
This way she could take basic classes at reduced tuition costs and stay with her parents and three younger sisters. After that, she would transfer to a Seventh-day Adventist school to study nursing.
But the plan collapsed during the summer. She just couldn’t find a way to get to the community college from her parents’ rural home. Jo-Anna couldn’t obtain a driver’s license because her parents, natives of Jamaica, were sorting out the family’s U.S. residency papers. Her parents couldn’t drive her back and forth, and no public buses stopped near her home.
Soon, only a month remained before the start of the school year, and she had nowhere to study.
Then her mother, Suzanne, remembered that family friends worked at Weimar Institute in California. Jo-Anna immediately went online and did some research.
“I don’t want to go to California!” she told her mother. “That’s too far away”.
“You should at least think about it and pray about it”, her mother replied.
Later that day, she did pray. “Please don’t make me go to California”, she said. “If I have to go to California, let one of my friends come with me”.
A week later, Jo-Anna spoke with a Weimar recruiter and began to think that maybe God wanted her to study there. But a major barrier stood ahead: Her parents could only cover the down payment and the first three months of classes.
Then a series of unexpected events rapidly unfolded.
Jo-Anna applied for and received a scholarship. While assisting people affected by local flooding, she connected with several Adventist physicians who pledged $500 a month toward her tuition. She raised $1,800 by writing financial assistance letters to family friends. Soon she had enough money to enroll, and she started classes in the fall.
“I didn’t have any doubt that I was where God wanted me to be”, she said.
While she missed her family dreadfully for the first few months, the realization that she was at the center of God’s will energized her as she worked 25 hours a week to earn more tuition money.
Jo-Anna, now 19, completed her first year debt-free, and she said God still pays her bills.
“I work like crazy, and when I do what I can, I say again, ‘Lord, this is what I can provide. Now show me what You can to do,” she said. “He works it out for me”.
Produced by the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission. Find more mission stories at adventistmission[dot]org
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