God has a way of interrupting our plans.
We set out upon one path and he sweeps us off on a different and more incredible journey than we ever anticipated. Some of the most influential Christians in history began their stories on the unlikeliest of paths. William Carey, lauded as the father of modern missions, started life as a humble shoe cobbler. Another young man dreamed of a wealthy life as a successful shoe salesman, then went on to found one of the most influential Christian schools in the world: Moody Bible Institute. That man was, of course, Dwight L. Moody.
Another man, born in Scotland at the turn of the nineteenth century, started his career as a doctor and an atheist. But God took him on a life-changing journey that would carry him across four continents and over thousands of miles of open ocean—and last 38 years.
His story is testimony to what can happen when we let go of our own plans, and entrust our future to God.
A winding journey
Robert Reid Kalley was born into a church-going family, but as he pursued his medical studies, he began to experience doubts. Unable to reconcile belief in an unseen God with empirical science, Kalley eventually rejected God outright. But when a dying patient’s unyielding faith revealed a side of God he never knew, he gave his life to Christ.
Barely 30 and newly married, Kalley ached for the mission field in China—but his wife’s poor health rendered serving there impossible. On the suggestion of his leaders at the mission society, he and his wife set sail instead for the island of Madeira, where they hoped the tropical climate might ease her illness. Little did they know this would be but the start of a long and winding journey full of danger, narrow escapes, flourishing ministry, tragedy, and the incredible faithfulness of God.
Kalley had envisaged life as a doctor, devoted to science, but God had other plans—plans that would lead Kalley to devote himself to the spiritual health of a far-flung country: Brazil.