How I Almost Married the Wrong Girl
Only a handful of us were semi-circled around a cozy fireplace in Montevideo, Uruguay, South America, on that memorable day when I heard a man of God, Fred Dabold, joyfully sharing his testimony. The joy of the Lord in him was bubbling over. I became deeply convicted that I did not have such a relationship with God, so I began to seek his company almost daily. I loved to have him tell me about the Lord Jesus. In this way I was introduced to Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. I was born again and my life was radically changed.
I returned things I had stolen. I confessed to the ones I had lied to. The joy of the Lord began to fill me. But soon I found myself mired in an unsolvable problem.
When I repented and believed in the Lord Jesus, I was engaged to a lovely, attractive, and winsome girl. I had already bought the wedding rings and we were about to be married. She was a Christian and had brought me to hear the Gospel. Thanks to her I too had become a Christian. But when the Lord spoke to me that He wanted me to be in His service as a missionary, my fiancee shocked me by bluntly stating: “I don’t want to be the wife of a missionary.”
Suddenly, I had a big problem. However, the Lord Jesus had moved into my being and He was determined to take over. As I turned to God in prayer, He immediately made me aware that He did not want me to marry that girl!
My heart sank. I lost the joy of the Lord which had filled me. A civil war began in my heart that lasted six long months. I would often pray the whiny type of prayer, the kind that only attains ceiling elevation and goes something like this:
“Oh, Lord, You know I love this girl. I can’t give her up! If I do, with her looks she will surely find someone else, and if she marries another man, I will go crazy!”
God knows how to tame wild broncos, stubborn mules, and obstinate donkeys. He was very patient with me. Slowly and gently He began to soften my heart. A few months later I found myself praying:
“Father, I am still not willing to give her up! However, I am willing for You to make me willing!”
I discovered that every time I prayed to the Lord, every time I opened the door of my heart even a small crack, swoosh, more of the Lord came into me!
Month after month He faithfully kept softening me up until I found myself praying earnestly:
“Heavenly Father, I’m finally willing to give her up. But I still have a problem I cannot solve; I don’t have the strength to give her up!”
In this area I felt as weak as a wet noodle! But I had opened the door of my heart a bit more and sure enough, swoosh, more of the Lord came into my being. You give Him an inch and He takes a mile!
At long last, toward the end of those miserable, joyless six months of internal conflict with the Lord, He put some Godly backbone into my jellyfish nature and I prayed:
“All right, Heavenly Father, I give her up, totally, absolutely, completely!”
And I did.
Days rolled into weeks, and weeks into months. To my amazement, I discovered that I was not missing her!
I even psychoanalyzed myself, quieted myself down and asked myself the most grueling questions.
“Suppose she marries another man?”
I pondered this a long time and then answered myself:
“Well, if she marries another man, I don’t mind.”
My unexpected reaction made me turn to the Lord and pray:
“My Dearest Heavenly Father, You have really liberated me!”
Later, I remembered the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, when He said:
“If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.”
As soon as I totally gave her up, the joy of my salvation returned. The Bible immediately became understandable again and a delight to read. I had discovered that the best way to understand the Holy Scriptures is OBEDIENCE! As soon as I obeyed the Lord, His omnipotent hand, like that of an expert surgeon, reached into my heart and removed the desire for that girl. I was truly set free!
Another blessing gained from this experience is that I learned to fear lest I make another serious mistake like the one I had nearly made. This spurred me on to pray what otherwise I would never have thought to pray. God had used this ordeal as an anvil to forge a very different prayer. I prayed like this:
“Dearest Heavenly Father, You know me. You know that I desperately want to be married. Yet not my will but Your will be done. If You want me to remain single for the rest of my life, even against my natural desire, I am willing to do so. But if You plan for me to get married, please, do not let me make such a mistake again. Instead, let me fall in love with Christ in the girl that is to be my wife! In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”
That is precisely what God had been patiently waiting to hear me pray.
Guess what happened next!
Time went by! One whole year, then two. Every time I would meet a lovely Christian girl, I would quietly pray, with great expectation,
“Heavenly Father, is this the one I am to marry?”
A long silence would follow. Eventually, I would ask:
“God, why aren’t You saying anything?”
So I would pray again, somewhat louder,
A longer silence would follow. I would try once more,
What do you do when God is not saying anything?
When God does not say anything, you WAIT!
Waiting on God is probably one of the most difficult things a Christian is called upon to do. But if we are willing, He will faithfully train us to wait on the Lord for His leading.
So I waited, and waited, and waited.
A couple of years after I broke off the engagement, I unexpectedly met my ex-fiancee in town and she said:
“Freddie! I missed you so much after we broke up! But now I have a friend…”
Suspecting it was more than friendship, I asked:
“Is he a believer?”
“Well… no!” she replied.
“Don’t marry an unbeliever.” I warned her: “Remember that God’s Word warns, `Do not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever!'”
Caught off guard, she muttered defensively,
“But we are only friends.”
How I Fell in Love With The Christ in the Right Girl
Twelve long years went by! Then one day when I was traveling in the U.S., God placed me next to a Christian girl on a one-hour drive. The presence of the dear Lord Jesus was so vivid in her that I immediately fell in love with Christ in her! For an entire week we were able to see each other often and we had many talks together. We both became conscious that we had fallen in love; but did the Lord want us to marry? Before I was born again I would kiss a girl first and then ask myself if I liked her. But now that I was saved, God made me know that I could not kiss any girl until I was absolutely sure we were going to be married. So I did not kiss my new love.
I expected some kind of supernatural revelation, a voice from heaven saying as loud as thunder:
“Marry that girl!”
But I heard nothing.
Upon my return to Montevideo, a desire to pray came upon me; I prayed for a whole week. On a glorious Sunday afternoon, on February 26, 1959, in a way I cannot yet explain, I was overwhelmed with the deep assurance from God that He wanted me to marry Ann. Although I did not hear a thunderous voice from heaven, I had the deep assurance that this was His unmistakable will. I knew! But now I had a problem: she was in Virginia, North America, and I was in Montevideo, Uruguay, South America. I was about as far south of the equator as she was north of the equator! How to bridge that gap?
The least expensive way would be to write. That same day I wrote to her. I knew that my letter would take seven days to reach her and that it would take another seven days for me to receive her reply–a full two weeks. That would seem like an eternity to me. How surprised I was to receive a letter from her after only a few days had passed. I tore it open, and the first thing that startled me was the date on the letter, February 26, 1959! She had written me on the very same day that I had written her!
I read: “I suppose I will never know until I meet my Lord in Glory why He has laid such a burden upon me to pray for you during all this past week. Then today, (February 26th.) the burden was lifted and God gave me the assurance that whatever your need was, He had supplied it.”
When I read that, I almost went into orbit for joy! How I praised and thanked my dear heavenly Father! In my letter to her I had described how the Lord had burdened me to pray for a week and how He had made His will known to me. When I signed it I had added this P.S., “Will you marry me?”
But I did not mail that letter right away. I felt to hold on to it for three days, just to double‑check if this was really God’s will. After three days, I still had the assurance that what I had written was the Lord’s will, so I mailed it.
Eventually, I received her second letter, the answer to my proposal! I opened it with much anticipation and, to my great amazement, read these words:
“On the same day the Lord made His will clear to you, He also spoke to me that we were to be married. God made it so plain to me that I felt like your wife already!”
And I hadn’t even kissed her yet!
Later we checked on the day and even the very hour when these things were happening. We were amazed to find that God had made His will known to both of us at exactly the same hour, and that we had been moved to write to each other at the same moment. We had both held our respective letters for three days, then mailed them at the same time. Our letters passed each other in the sky above the equator, and we both received the other’s letter simultaneously!
My, what a wonderful God we have! How minutely intricate and detailed is His high precision guidance for those who seek to know and do His will!
Now we were engaged! But I still had a problem. How could I bridge the 5,300 miles that separated us? By that time I had resigned from the Evangelical Mission to Uruguay under which I had been serving as a national missionary, and had launched out by faith, making my personal needs known only to the Lord. For over a year, He had faithfully supplied my basic needs to the penny; no frills, no extras, just the rock bottom essentials.
As I continued serving Him, He surprised me one day by having someone give me $50. Another $50 came to me the next week. Then came $62 more. That made a total of $162. Now to me, a Uruguayan citizen, living in a poor country, that was more money than I had ever had in my life. It was the equivalent of ten month’s salary as a national missionary. What was I to do with this small fortune of $162? I prayed and inquired of the Lord. He impressed me deeply that I was to buy my passage, fly to America, and marry Ann. But this seemed impossible since in those days one‑way airfare was $400, and I only had $162. I reasoned that if this was indeed the Lord’s will He would soon send me the $238 needed to purchase my ticket.
He didn’t. I was soon to discover that God sometimes likes to do things a more interesting way, even in a seemingly impossible way, rather than the way we think He will.
After checking both sea and air travel prices I still could find nothing lower than the $400 price. But God still had a way. It seems that He created an airline just for me! He put it in the mind of a man in Argentina to have his own tiny airline. This man purchased a second-hand DC‑4 passenger plane and began a shuttle service from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Miami, Florida. The International Air Transportation Association decided this fly‑by-night airline was such a poor risk that they would not grant it certification. Undaunted, Mr. Ini, owner of Ini Airlines, a “one-plane-only” company, flew anyway.
The only problem was that nobody would fly with his “airline.” He tried to attract customers by cutting the price down to the bone. It seemed only crazy people would fly with an outfit like that, unless God told them to. You guessed it, God told me to.
When I went to check out the price of the ticket, I was stunned. I could hardly believe my eyes! But there it was in black and white, $162.75 It took every dollar I had, plus 75 cents change I had in my pocket! I stood there in awe, thrilled, and full of joy. I kept thanking and praising my faithful heavenly Father, Who again had provided the needs of His servant to the very penny.
By the time I got my passport in order, packed my luggage and headed for the airport, a dear brother, who did not know my needs had given me an envelope containing some money. It wasn’t much, but when we landed safely (thank God) in Miami, Florida, it was something to plunk down on the Greyhound Bus Company’s counter and say:
“I need a bus ticket as far down as this money will take me toward Lynchburg, Virginia.”
It was not enough. But it did carry me to Danville, Virginia.
Having only five cents left in my pocket, I decided to hitch-hike the rest of the way. My thumb was out as I walked Northward on Highway 29, but nobody would pick me up. Three hours dragged by and I was very tired and getting a bit discouraged. I am so near, yet so far. So I reached for my Bible, opened it at random, and read:
“Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed”
Immediately there was a reaction within me. Joy burst forth and with happy expectation, I prayed:
“Thank You, dearest heavenly Father; I believe it, I shall not be ashamed, because I trust in You. After all, I did not send myself here. You did! So it is Your responsibility to take me to Ann’s house, because You sent me! Maybe You have me waiting here for the best ride; to get me closer to Ann’s home! Thank You, dearest Father, I am in Your hands! In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!”
Soon a station wagon stopped. Two painters offered me a ride on their way to Lynchburg. As we drove along, I told them about God’s love for man and His provision for washing away all our sins through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. My painter friends came under conviction. (I trust that they have since sought God out, repented and believed in Christ as their Lord and Savior.)
As we continued to speak together, they noticed my slight foreign accent; they wanted to know why I was in America. I told them that I had come to marry my fiancee, who did not know I was coming and who thought that I was 5,300 miles away.
“You mean you are just going to walk in, unannounced?” one of them asked.
“Yes, I am going to surprise her!” I joyfully replied.
They laughed and suddenly one of them said:
“I would like to take you to her house!”
“Oh, no,” I protested. “You fellows are going to work in Lynchburg, and I have some friends there that will be glad to take me to her home. She lives on a farm, quite a distance from the main road!”
He thought it over for a moment, then said:
“Well, which do you prefer?”
I was quiet before God for a moment, then slowly answered:
“If you put it that way, obviously, my preference would be to go straight to her home.”
“All right, let’s go!” he answered cheerfully. “Show me the way!”
We chatted excitedly as we drove along, and before we realized it, had reached the gravel driveway to Ann’s farm. As we came to a stop in front of the house, the men laughingly said:
“You’d best go in by yourself. We’ll wait in the car.”
I rushed to the door, entered the house and stood silently, my heart pounding. Ann happened to be in the next room and had heard me come in. Wondering who it was, she opened the door to check and she managed to say:
And all I seemed able to say was,
In the next moment we were in each other’s arms and shared our first kiss!
As we stood there, in that ecstasy of love, I suddenly remembered that the painters were still waiting in their car.
So arm in arm, Ann and I went out to thank them from our overflowing hearts. They were grinning from ear to ear, glad to see us together and to know that my unusual story had not been a figment of my imagination.
Though I had only five cents in my pocket, God gave us a big wedding, short of nothing.
Our honeymoon began; and now many years later, it still continues, thanks to God.
What Happened to the First Girl
Perhaps you are curious to know what happened to my first fiancee, so I will tell you.
Almost forty years later, I was preaching in Montevideo, Uruguay. At the end of the service I walked to the door and stood out on the steps. A middle-aged woman approached me, saying:
“Don’t you know me?”
Surprised, I looked at her more carefully. I hesitated for a moment, then, still unsure, I tentatively said her name.
Forty years had made a lot of changes, but I finally did recognize her as the one who had been my very elegant and shapely fiancee.
We chatted and, I soon discovered that she had indeed married her unsaved friend, a prosperous physician.
Eventually, she asked me pointedly:
“Are you happy, Freddie?”
I answered honestly:
“Oh, yes! I am very happy! God gave me a wonderful wife. Ann and I love to read God’s Word together and pray together. After years of marriage, I still am falling in love with Christ in Ann. The Lord just keeps growing in her! We are still on our honeymoon, even after all these years.”
With a tinge of melancholy, she admitted what I had already realized:
“Freddie, I don’t have a happy marriage. My husband is not a Christian.”
Later I considered this strange encounter. She is wealthy, yes, but she does not have marital happiness.
Marriage is serious business. Why not consult with God first? Only He knows which is the best spouse for you. Otherwise, you may think you are getting a peach of a spouse, when in reality you are getting a lemon! Ask God first.
Under no circumstance date a non-Christian. That would be to court disaster!
Are you single and want to get married?
If so, I suggest you pray as follows:
“Dear Heavenly Father, You know me. You know that I want to be married. Yet not my will but Your will be done. If You want me to remain single for the rest of my life, even against my natural desire, I am willing to do so. But if You plan for me to get married, let me fall in love with Christ in the one that is to be my spouse. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”
From Talking with God – Chapter 12
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Updates from Cuba
Starting in the 1990’s Fred was significantly involved with Cuba. The Lord has continued to move strongly in Cuba through many brothers and sisters in Christ including some key workers who Fred helped to disciple. Since 2009, a project to evangelize the whole country has reached over 2 million Cubans with hundreds of thousands of new believers added to the kingdom of God. The work is ongoing with plans to evangelize the entire island country. See below for recent news from the work in Cuba.
Updates from Cuba