Melvin Graham – A Miracle in Ecuador
Alexandra Bravo changed the sheets on the bed in a room at the hotel where she worked in Guayaquil, Ecuador. She put on fresh pillowcases, pulled up the cover and fluffed the pillows.
Trying not to be frustrated that she was called in to work on her day off, she made her way to the bathroom to change the towels and soaps. She shrugged off the resentment. Things happen for a reason. As she turned to leave the room, the occupants — a man and a woman from the United States — walked in.
This was the same man whom she had seen walking around the hotel with Franklin Graham, who was in Guayaquil for the Festival of Hope. Oh glorious day! She knew all about the Festival, which was starting this very night. She knew the God that Franklin proclaimed, and she had been praying that He would send someone from the Graham team to help her daughter. Immediately, she started trying to communicate with the man and his wife, but they didn’t understand Spanish and she couldn’t speak English. She made various hand motions and tried to call to mind every English syllable she had ever heard, but she was not getting through.
Suddenly, the man’s phone rang. He spoke briefly with the caller and then, to Alexandra’s surprise, handed the phone to her. It was a translator who was traveling with Franklin Graham’s team! The translator was in the room with Franklin’s cousin, Mel Graham, who often shares his testimony at Festivals. Alexandra couldn’t get her words out quickly enough. Her little girl, Arianita, 2½, needed heart surgery. She had been born with a congenital heart disease called Tricuspid Atresia. Her heart wasn’t pumping enough blood to her lungs, so her body wasn’t getting the oxygen it needed. Arianita had been in and out of the hospital since she was born. Her cheeks, nails and skin were a purplish blue because of the lack of oxygen, and she couldn’t run and play like a normal toddler.
She needed the surgery by time she turned 3 or she might not live. Could someone with the Festival help? The translator related her story to Mel, who serves on the board of directors for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse. Mel could see God’s hand in the events of the day. “This lady wasn’t even supposed to be working that day,” he says. “She had never worked on the floor that we were staying on. This was absolutely no accident. There was no doubt in my mind that this was a God-appointed meeting.” Mel asked to meet with Alexandra later that afternoon.
“Everything that was happening on that miracle day was a result of all my prayers,” Alexandra says. “I had prayed to the Lord every single day to get someone’s help to save my daughter.”
Mel contacted Samaritan’s Purse to see if Arianita qualified for their Children’s Heart Project, which provides life-saving surgery for children in countries where advanced medical care is not available. Two weeks later, Samaritan’s Purse called Alexandra. Within a month, arrangements were made for Arianita to have surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Alexandra and Arianita would stay with a pastor and his wife from a church in Rochester.
Alexandra’s co-workers raised extra cash for her to have on hand during the trip. Alexandra knew that God was leading the situation, but it was hard to keep fear at bay. She’d had to be so careful with Arianita, ever since she was born. She didn’t want her to wind up back in the hospital like she did when she was 3 months old. It had been difficult watching her having to get breathing treatments for 20 days. “I was praying and praying the night before the surgery,” she says. “I was very close to changing my mind and saying no. But then some people from the church in Rochester came down and prayed with me. We agreed to leave it in God’s hands. I felt peace.”
Arianita remained at the hospital for six days and, true to his word, Mel Graham was there to meet them on the day she was released. “That was a big day for everyone involved to celebrate little Arianita getting out of the hospital,” Mel says. Arianita stayed in Minnesota for six weeks, while she went for follow-up appointments at the Mayo Clinic. Then, the pediatric cardiologist’s husband, Jeff, accompanied her and her mom back to Ecuador and watched as a host of friends and family greeted them with hugs and kisses. A reception at Alexandra’s hotel followed, during which time Jeff shared the Gospel with many people in the room. Later, during a few quiet moments with Alexandra’s family, Jeff shared Christ with Alexandra’s husband, Santiago, who accepted Christ right there.
“I am very thankful for a lot of people in the United States,” Alexandra says. “Mel Graham, the doctor and her husband, the host family, the pastor at the church in Rochester. I’m thankful for Samaritan’s Purse, and for the people at my hotel, especially my manager, for letting me go to the United States for six weeks and still keep my job. “And of course, we praise God. He led us and gave us the opportunity to meet people who could help, and who wanted to show the love of God to us and to our country and to our family in so many different ways.”
Because of the events of that Friday in August 2007, when Alexandra was called in to work on a day she was scheduled to be off, her little girl can run and play and her husband is now a Christian. A host of her family and co-workers attended the Festival of Hope in Ecuador and some went forward to accept Christ. Believers and nonbelievers throughout Alexandra’s international hotel chain have heard about God’s miracle for Arianita.
“I feel that all of this has happened as a way for God to prove Himself and to show His love to me. He’s always thinking about us and helping us in the ways He knows we need it.”