300 Kids and Counting
By Sayuri Rodriguez
As a little girl I had three conversations with God again and again:
1. “Dear God, I want to be a missionary and tell everyone about Jesus!”
2. “Dear God, can I marry a pastor? It will be so much easier to tell everyone about Jesus.”
3. “Dear God, when I open my eyes, could you please, pretty please, make my doll come alive? I really want to be a mommy.”
God answered my first request right away. Of course, I did need some training, so I practiced sharing Jesus with my dolls. Next I witnessed to my cousins, the kids on my street, and people at church outreach activities. Eventually God said, “Now it’s me for you to go to another country,” and my experience as a missionary in Kazakhstan was priceless.
Because I was just 4 years old when I prayed to marry a pastor, God wisely said “Wait.” But then He kept saying “wait” and “wait” and “wait,” and in the waiting I eventually forgot about my request. That is, until one wonderful day when I saw him walking toward me at the airport, so confident, so handsome . . . what a man! (It’s a long, romantic story.) The point? God gave me my pastor—a perfect gift in His perfect time.
Since we were already past our 20s, Tony and I didn’t want to wait for babies. But very unsuccessful months later, we went to the doctor and were told that this was never going to happen for us. “You should consider other options,” they said.
We weren’t too sad, though, because we both believed that God could help us have a baby anyway. After all, “For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37, KJV).
Shortly after that news, we were preparing to travel and preach for evangelistic meetings. On the trip Tony looked at me one day during lunch and said, “I think you’re pregnant.”
When we got back home, I felt dizzy, couldn’t eat tomatoes, and had other symptoms, so we went to the doctor.
I still remember the look on his face when we told him why we were there. I think he felt sorry for us. But he kindly said, “OK, let’s just start with a pregnancy test.”
Fifteen minutes later he walked back into the room and exclaimed, “We are in the presence of God! You are pregnant. Only God can do this!”
God did it! We knew He could! We were so happy that after two days we just couldn’t keep it to ourselves, so we told our family and friends. Everyone was thrilled for us, and our miracle baby was already loved by everyone. We chose a name, and Tony sang to my belly every day. The nausea, the sleepiness, the long appointments, drinking and retaining all that water before the ultrasound . . . I loved every second of it!
But then at one appointment, something wasn’t right. The doctor’s face was too serious. That day we heard the little heartbeat for the first— and the last— time. Baby AJ’s little heart was already too weak to survive.
Why, Lord? I wondered. This baby was an answer to our prayers, a miracle . . . So why not complete the miracle?
Not a week after our loss, I found this quote: “When before the throne we stand in Him complete, all the riddles that puzzle us here will fall into place and we shall know in fulfillment what we now believe in faith—that all things work together for good in His eternal purpose. No longer will we cry ‘My God, why?’ Instead, ‘alas’ will become ‘Alleluia,’ all question marks will be straightened into exclamation points, sorrow will change to singing, and pain will be lost in praise.”*
Baby AJ went to sleep in Jesus in May 2010. A year later we went to camp meeting, and by day two my heart was already breaking. Friends and church members kept asking, “When are you going to have a baby?”
I kept smiling and saying, “God only knows.” Then I would change the topic. It wasn’t as if we weren’t trying, or not wanting a child.
That Sabbath morning I sat alone in the main auditorium praying, Lord, there are seven more days to go. Give me strength, give me courage, give me peace. And somehow, some way, please give me a hug that lasts until the end of camp meeting.
Later I stopped by the children’s division to see my nieces. All the parents were hugging their kids. There were kids everywhere. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to come here, I thought.
I was turning to leave when a woman exclaimed, “Sayuri, where’s your baby? I heard you were pregnant last year!”
I wanted to tell her we had lost our baby, but she just kept talking, and every innocent word felt like she was stabbing my heart. “Wait,” she said suddenly, calling over two friends. “This is Sayuri, Pastor Tony’s wife. Can you believe they didn’t send me a birth announcement?”
As I was trying to find words to respond, I heard a loud, childish voice. It was Marcos, a young boy from our church, running up with several other kids. “Hey, look,” he told his friends, “that’s my mom!” He made such a fuss that all his little friends gave me hugs too.
When I looked up, the nosy women were gone. They must have thought, Wow, that baby grew up fast!
We still don’t have a baby of our own. We don’t know if we ever will. You may be thinking that God clearly answered my third prayer request with a no. But I refuse to say that we are childless, because one of the gifts of ministry is the chance to mentor many children. We may not be biological parents, but we have so many kids.
Early this year we wrote down the names of every child we pray for by name, and we were shocked to realize that we have more than 300 kids!
At a recent potluck a man asked if we have children, and someone interrupted him, saying, “They don’t have any.”
For the first me, I felt confident to respond, “Yes, actually we have 300. And many more on the way!”
Whether or not they were born to you, how many children do you have?
Sayuri Rodriguez is the happy wife of her best friend and pastor-husband, Tony. They serve at the Roseburg Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Oregon. She says that she enjoys spending her free time taking pictures, even without a camera! This testimony was originally published in The Journal: a Resource for Ministry Spouses, Vol. 33, Second Quarter 2016. To view more from The Journal, click here.
*Robert J. Morgan, The Red Sea Rules, p. 103.