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Beginning at 4 Years old…

” I couldn’t speak due to being so overcome with emotion. When the call went through and my parents heard me sobbing, and feared that something horrible had happened. “

Doug Pacheco

My mother belonged to The Doubleday Book Club, as a young woman, and every month new books would arrive at our small Indiana home. With excitement she would open the boxes to see what titles she had received. My mother loved to read. Every book that would arrive, she placed on the book shelves in our living room.

Among the titles were such books as “A Bell for Adano”, “ A Farewell to Arms”, and one book in particular that a four year old loved. It was a picture book; actually a travel book filled with black and white pictures from countries around the world entitled, “Around the World in a Thousand Pictures.”

Since I could not read, I loved taking the book down and looking at the pictures. Page after page of scenes from all over the world spread out before me. And of course not knowing what I was really looking at, I had no idea that these were pictures of Italy, France, England… photos from all over the world. Every day, I would look at the pictures and strangely enough, each time I would arrive at a certain place in the book I would call out to my mother and say, “Mommy, come and look at this picture!”

Dutifully, she would lovingly come in and I would point to the picture in the book and proudly announce, “That’s where I will go when I grow up!” She would smile and pat my head and say, “that’s wonderful dear”, and go back into the kitchen. I did this so much that the book would naturally fall open to the pages that I said were my favorites. In time, I grew older and the book lost interest for me and was placed back on the shelf and then into a box in our basement where my parents placed old things that they would either throw away or give away.

I went to elementary school, middle school and then to high school where I became involved in sports and grew interested in girls. I received a scholarship to Indiana University where after the first semester, I was injured and left school. I moved to Kentucky and for a long time just drifted from job to job. After a series of very miraculous coincidences, I found myself as a missionary to South America. This is where I now see that God was leading my life, because I could never have gotten to South America without going to Kentucky and would never have had the experience that I am about to relate to you.

One afternoon, as I was walking through Botofogo, a suburb in Rio de Janeiro, I was looking at the beautiful bay, filled with sailboats and at the beaches with their white sand when I was suddenly stopped in my tracks. Tears began to roll down my face and heaving sobs came over me. I couldn’t speak, but I knew I had to get to a phone. I walked to a public phone and had a friend ask in Portuguese for the operator to place a collect call to my parents because I couldn’t speak due to being so overcome with emotion. When the call went through and my parents heard me sobbing, and feared that something horrible had happened.

“What’s wrong Doug?” my mother asked. I tried to speak over the sobbing and explain to her but I wasn’t making sense. “Slow down and tell me what is wrong!” she said very matter of factly. I slowed my breathing, gathered my emotions and said to her. “Mom, go look on page 23 in “Around the World in a Thousand Pictures”. She said she would later, but I explained to her, “the very picture that I looked at when I was four years old…it…”my voice broke again. “I am looking at it right now!” There in front of me was Sugar Loaf Mountain. I hadn’t known the name of it and I hadn’t connected the dots that it was pictures of Brazil that I had looked at as a child. It was a God coincidence. I had gotten a preview of this very moment at four years of age.

My father was on the extension phone and had gone to the basement to find the book. He found it and got back on the phone and said, “It is Sugar Loaf Mountain on page 23 Doug…I see it.” My mother began to weep softly. My dad, who was very Latin and whose first impulse was almost always to get angry blurted out, “will one of you tell me what the hell is going on?” My mother then said, “It’s the picture that Doug used to show me when he was four years old…he would point to that very page and tell me, “some day I am going to that Country.” For 10 seconds or so there was silence on the phone. Mom and I knew that a four year old boy had seen 20 years into the future, and that my being in Brazil was no coincidence. The God of the Remarkable had shown up.

I spent four and a half years in Brazil helping to establish two churches. I baptized dozens of young Brazilians in the ocean, and lived an adventure I couldn’t have dreamed possible. My eyes were open with this experience about how God had given me insight as a child as to something he wanted me to do and as I looked back throughout my life, I began to see puzzle pieces that fit into place in other events and I immediately recognized that none of the things that had happened growing up were coincidence.

How can I convince you that God is constantly moving, taking action on your behalf to position you in a place where you will not only see Him change lives, but also to USE you to do it? Listen, I am a nobody, born to a lower middle class Hispanic/English/Irish family from Indiana. I have had no special training to do and see the things I have seen. The only explanation that I have is that the God of the Remarkable is seeking to reach into the earth to change lives and I was available. I can’t even take credit for that.

Stop and consider incidents from your past that made you curious about God. Was it a relative? A friend who influenced you? A teacher perhaps who showed you so much love that you wanted what they had? Was it a book you picked up? My friend, it was the God of the Remarkable. He was moving in your life from the time you stepped out of the womb. Scripture says: “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2: 13 Also in Jeremiah it says:

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

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