By Andrew McChesney, Adventist Mission
Parking at home in the U.S. state of Maryland, Joe Marcellino saw a trail of oil winding up the street from his Isuzu Trooper SUV.
“Oh-oh”, he said to his wife, Susan. “Things aren’t good”.
Joe, a 33-year-old IT manager at the Seventh-day Adventist world church headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, called a friend for help. The friend, Eric Armer, found oil spewing from the oil filter and warned that engine repairs probably would cost more than $3,000.
Joe and Susan, recently married, had exactly $3,000 in the bank. But Joe was reluctant to spend the money on the SUV because the couple had fallen behind in returning tithe. They owed $1,500 for the past three months.
Susan saw no room for discussion. “We need to give our first fruits”, she said.
Joe and Susan prayed and decided to return tithe rather than repair the SUV.
After the decision, Eric advised Joe to call the filling station that had changed the oil shortly before the spill. The filling station sent a mechanic to Joe’s house and, after an inspection, offered to rebuild the engine for free. Joe, however, wasn’t sure that he trusted the gas station, so he accepted a $3,000 payment instead. Joe asked another friend, Bill Brody a car mechanic, to rebuild the engine. When the repairs were finished, Joe received the bill—for $1,500. To his surprise, the $3,000 from the gas station had been enough to cover repairs and tithe.
Bill cautioned Joe as a friend to sell the SUV quickly, saying it could break down at any time.
Days later, Wayne Calbi, purchasing director at Adventist Church headquarters, asked Joe whether he would be willing to sell the SUV.
“A missionary in Africa has asked specifically to buy an Isuzu Trooper”, he said.
Joe immediately shared the SUV’s history, but Wayne said he was willing to take the risk. He gave Joe a fair price and shipped the vehicle to Africa. The SUV had about 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers) on it.
About 18 months passed, and Wayne told Joe, “You remember that SUV? Now it has more than 100,000 miles on it”.
“Praise the Lord!” Joe said. “I didn’t think it would last that long”.
A couple years later, Wayne announced that it had passed 200,000 miles. Then 300,000 miles. Joe was amazed.
“It is the Lord who kept it going for this missionary!” he said.
Joe, now 61 and pictured left, said the experience taught him a lesson about mission and tithe. “The Lord met our needs when we sat down as husband and wife to give our first fruits to Him”, he said. “He didn’t only meet our needs, but He also met the needs of the missionary in Africa. The SUV became a blessing that kept on giving year after year after year”.
Produced by the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission. Find more mission stories at adventistmission[dot]org
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