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  • Writer's pictureGina Pickett

But God was faithful...



Girl standing next to a church window
Dio at First Baptist of Burleson

I had the pleasure of meeting Dioany while serving at a Baptist Church. She held the position of communications director and, like many other church employees, she wore multiple hats on Sundays. I had also seen her perform on stage during worship services, where she displayed a genuine love for God.

I learned that she hailed from the Amazon region of Venezuela and had a passion for photography. Through brief conversations, I discovered that she was a missionary who was using her career to fulfill God's purpose for her life.

Curious about her journey, I asked if she would share her story with me. We met on Valentine's Day afternoon and spent time discussing her upbringing, her journey to the United States, and had many laughs while sipping Chai Tea with milk.


 

It was fascinating to learn that she came from a family of missionaries. Her father was a pastor in the Amazon, and her mother, who was a missionary from the city, met him while they were both engaged in God's work. They had two daughters, with Dio being the elder one. Growing up, Dio was actively involved in church service.

girl dancing in front of a group of children at church
Dio worshipping in the Amazon at church

However, she struggled with the weight of being a pastor's child and yearned for a personal and authentic relationship with God. While she acknowledged knowing the Lord, she felt that He was not yet in her heart. With a passion for communication, she picked up her Samsung Galaxy flip phone at the age of thirteen and began taking pictures at church and doing photoshoots of her friends. She dreamed of becoming a YouTuber and having a channel to share her thoughts and feelings with the world.

Her love for videos led her to search the internet for sermons for young adults when she was fifteen. One particular sermon she watched online from a pastor broke through her barriers, and she decided to let God into her heart and seek a personal relationship with Him. A few months later, her father sent a group of young adults, including Dio, to a missionary school for two months. During this time, she received training in missionary work, worship, and Bible scripture. This experience proved to be pivotal, igniting a burning passion for God within her and a desire to be used by Him for mission work around the world.

girl sitting in the forest playing her guitar
Dio as a teenager
Upon returning home, Dio was eager to put her newfound passion into action. However, she fell ill with a burst appendix and had to undergo emergency surgery, which confined her to her home for three months. She thought she was going to die. Despite the challenges, she waited patiently, acknowledging that "God was faithful" during this time of healing.

Shortly after, her family received a call from a friend who pastored a church in the United States, inviting them to come for six months to assist with mission work. The entire family packed up and left Venezuela, embarking on a new adventure in a foreign country and culture. Dio found herself thrust into a new environment, following her parents' lead as they walked with God. She had to redo her junior year of high school and patiently waited for God's guidance as she navigated her education in a country where she did not speak the language.

While they were in the United States, turmoil began to brew back home in Venezuela. Policies implemented by the Venezuelan government led to scarcity of basic goods, inflation, criminal activity, and protests. Dio's parents received news that their house had been destroyed and robbed, and families in their village were fleeing in fear. In January 2015, a significant demonstration known as the "March of Empty Pots" took place, where thousands protested against shortages and denounced the Venezuelan government. The people sought to remove President Nicolas Maduro, leading Dio's family to make the difficult decision not to return home. They relocated to the Dominican Republic, joining family members from her mother's side, along with approximately 1.8 million other Venezuelans who emigrated that year.

Once again, Dio found herself in a new home with different cultural traditions. Her parents reminded her that it was their decision to relocate the family from their home country and that whatever God had in store for Dio's life, their decision would not hinder her path and purpose with God. With a smile and another sip of her Chai, she reiterated, "But God was faithful."

During her time in the Dominican Republic, Dio had to repeat her junior year. Despite the challenges, she found a new community of friends and built meaningful relationships. One of her friends invited her to participate in a radio broadcast, where they shared their faith by reading devotionals and scripture. She also became involved in serving her church and the local community. Dio read "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren, which brought clarity to the feelings she had been experiencing and confirmed what God was doing through her life. She resumed taking videos and pictures with her phone and immersed herself in the local culture.

girl singing on stage at church
Dio leading worship at First Baptist of Burleson

She resonated with Billy Graham's saying, "My home is Heaven. I'm just traveling through this world."

A year later, her family was once again invited to the United States by a Fort Worth pastor for mission work. Upon her arrival, Dio had to repeat her junior year a third time. When I expressed surprise, she laughed and said, "But God was faithful."


She struggled to make friends in the United States due to her limited English proficiency. She spent considerable time at church waiting for her parents since she didn't have a driver's license. A pastor encouraged her to join the media team, handling lights and taking pictures. She was given a camera and began exploring the church through a lens, as it didn't require conversation. She also started creating graphics for their social media. She admitted that her initial work was not great, but the pastor continued to encourage her and patiently allowed her to learn without judgment. She felt a sense of purpose and believed that God was calling her to grow closer to Him.

She completed her junior year of high school and began forming friendships with her media team. Then, her parents informed her that they were relocating to Burleson to serve in a Baptist church with the Spanish congregation.

girl laughing next to a window at church
Dio has an amazing strength and smile

She laughed and told me, "I didn't want to go, but God was faithful." I was amazed by the numerous experiences this young girl had in starting over.


 

Upon arriving in Burleson, she initially focused on taking pictures of the Spanish service. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the church asked her to expand her photography to include all services and events. She reconnected with a pastor she knew from Fort Worth, and he recommended her for the First Baptist residency program. She worked on improving her English, learning simple phrases to use during church team meetings. After completing high school, she pursued college with a passion for media, inspired by the work she had done while serving on weekends.

Her involvement grew from part-time to a full-time position, and she now manages media for First Baptist of Burleson, as well as for local bands and families.


When I asked if she planned to stay in Burleson, she replied with a sparkle in her eyes, "Yes, but God is faithful, and I still dream of traveling the world to teach more people about God. I know someday I will."

We had further discussions about the challenges she had overcome in her life and how they had impacted her relationship with God. She quoted one of her favorite scriptures, Romans 5:3-5 "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."

She concluded by saying, "You can have many skills in your job, but if you don't have character, you will fail. If you don't have a foundation in your faith, when you experience suffering, you will fail. Suffering is good because we learn from our mistakes and become stronger. Jesus died on the cross for us so that our shame and mistakes can be turned into hope, as the scripture says."

The most remarkable aspect of her story is that the pastor whose online video sermon she watched at the age of fifteen, she coincidentally encountered him at a church event last month. She enthusiastically approached him and embraced him, expressing how his sermon profoundly influenced her relationship with God.

I am grateful that Dio was willing to share her testimony with me. I have always been fascinated by people's stories and how God has touched their personal and professional lives. I believe it's essential to share these stories because we can learn from one another, and inspire hope in the world. I encourage you to take a moment each day to remember that we all have a purpose and a calling in our career. Don't forget to slow down each week and pay attention to the conversations you have with strangers and the individuals God brings into your day. Sometimes, stopping to have a cup of coffee (or Chai tea) over Christ can set in motion an extraordinary step in your relationship with Him.


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