She dreamed of being a missionary from the time she was a little girl.
Laura Lee Taylor Branum grew up enthralled by the stories of missionaries who visited their church; she prayed for them regularly and dreamed of the day she would get to go and make a difference, too.
God’s plan for Laura Lee was a little different, though. Her mission-field future didn’t look like what she had imagined as a little girl. She went to medical school, became a doctor and then opened her own private practice in Hazel Green, Alabama.
By 2009, Laura Lee’s brother, Billy Taylor, had already spent years praying and wanting to help the people of Guatemala. Assisted by a group of people with a similar calling and passion, Billy decided it was time to put his faith into action. He created Mission Firefly, a nonprofit organization with the goal of empowering and supporting the impoverished people of Guatemala.
Mission Firefly aims to show people the tangible love of Jesus by meeting their physical needs with a no-strings-attached approach. Laura Lee quickly jumped on board by forming a team to work alongside Mission Firefly by setting up a medical clinic.
“Medicine is my ministry. I knew without question that medical missions was what God was calling me to do.”
El Salvador and a Supply Mix-Up
Several teams and trips later, Laura Lee has a handful of stories she could tell—stories of God’s goodness, provision, protection and perfect timing. Many trips have proven the investment worthwhile and the approach successful.
“We use medical assistance to gain their trust, and then we have the privilege to speak into their lives,” she explains.
But there is one story that stands out among countless others—one trip so unbelievable and mysterious that Laura Lee says she hopes for a behind-the-scenes viewing in Heaven.
In July of 2015, Laura Lee took a small team of nurses on a clinical trip to Guatemala, intending to spend the second part of their trip scoping out the area of El Salvador that Mission Firefly would be soon expanding into. While their time in El Salvador was planned as a scouting trip, they also set up a one-day clinic with the goal of seeing a maximum of 150 patients.
The team spent several hours driving to El Salvador, but upon their arrival they quickly learned they had a problem: They had brought the wrong medicines. Their contact in the village had misinterpreted their request, and now the team would be short on several supplies.
El Salvador is a communist country, so supplies could not be brought in or exchanged from any other bordering countries. It seemed they would just have to do the best they could with what they had. Having been on numerous trips, Laura Lee was no newbie to the truth that flexibility is key; things rarely go as planned.
The next morning, when Laura Lee arrived for the team meeting at the clinic site, she was stunned at what greeted her. A long line of patients had already formed. She began counting, and after realizing well over 100 patients had lined up to be seen, she began to panic.
“I’m unpacking the medicine, feeling overwhelmed and informally begging God to help us somehow,” Laura Lee remembers. “His answer was so clear. I have never before—and not since—heard Him speak so clearly to my heart.
“God said, ‘Laura Lee, this is going to be like the loaves and fishes.’ ”
When God Brings the Supplies
Within that same hour, the mayor of the city came to the clinic and met with Laura Lee, proposing an astounding and unbelievable offer. He presented a simple explanation for what he was about to do.
“This isn’t politics,” he said. “This is my village; these are our people.”
With that, he gave the team $1,500 to purchase more medicine at the pharmacy.
Things like that just don’t happen in impoverished countries, especially in communism-driven countries. To say they were shocked and amazed at God’s just-in-time provision is an understatement.
The clinic opened promptly at 9 o’clock that morning. With eager hearts and busy hands they served those lines of people. There were only three nurses, a few translators and a few non-medical assistants, but together they teamed up and cared for the village needs one by one.
Some patients come to clinics with nothing more than a simple headache, a common cold, or a wound that needs cleaning. Others come with more severe issues like diabetes. The reality is that in many impoverished countries, household commodities like aspirin and cough medicine are not accessible to the general public. The needs are diverse, and some of the medicines usually disappear pretty quickly. It is hard to predict what exactly is needed.
“We always run out of something, and usually by day’s end, we are turning away people with ailments we cannot treat simply because the medicine supply has been diminished.”
That’s how it usually is. But this trip was different. They all knew their supply of medicine was limited, but that day, it seemed they never reached the supply’s end. A nurse would be handed the last box of a particular medicine, and a few minutes later another box would be found somehow. It went on like that all day; the supplies never ran out.
Loaves and fishes.
Laura Lee and her team worked so tediously that they didn’t even realize a miracle was happening.
Finally, they closed clinic at 5 o’clock after treating around 450 patients. Even though they had tripled the number of patients they had anticipated seeing, the team didn’t run out of a single medical supply. Not one.
Loaves and fishes.
Laura Lee and her team truly experienced a modern day miracle.
“We didn’t even know how it could be possible. Not only did we not run out of a single supply, we also had extra to give out after.”
Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
God didn’t need things to be perfectly in order, He showed up in spite of the disorder, despite the human errors, in spite of policies and politics and even what is socially expected or acceptable. God asked the team to have faith, willing hands and willing hearts, and He took care of the rest.
God usually does what looks to us to be His best work in the realm of what seems humanly impossible. When things seem improbable or even impossible, listen to Heaven’s whisper. God still does miracles.
Just like the loves and fishes.