God delights in diversity. And from it, He gets a kick out of creating unity. Hence the surprise love story of two very diverse people.
He’s a Mexican engineer-turned-pastor, transplanted to Texas 15 years ago, and now the pastor of Insight for Living Ministries’ Spanish-language ministry, Visión Para Vivir, and the pastor of Stonebriar Community Church’s Spanish-speaking congregation. She’s an American architect of Dutch descent from the farmlands of Illinois, transplanted to Texas 13 years ago. About the only things Carlos and Karla had in common in 2010 were a love for God and a contentment in being single.
Enter a trip to the Holy Land with Insight for Living Ministries.
Carlos A. Zazueta was on the trip serving as a bus shepherd for Spanish-speaking travelers. Karla Brand was on the trip traveling as a pilgrim in search of a deeper connection with Christ. Neither was on the trip looking for love.
But God had different plans.
Three days before the trip, Karla received a new travel packet placing her on the bus designated for Spanish-speakers. Surely this was a mistake, she thought. She couldn’t speak or understand a lick of Spanish! But possessing an adventurous spirit, she decided to make the best of it.
When Karla learned that her bus shepherd Carlos was single, she determined to have nothing to do with him, fearing he would give her undue and unwanted attention. So, whenever possible, Karla avoided Carlos, even refusing to take his hand as he helped the women off the bus.
Carlos was immediately smitten with Karla.
On the morning of the traditional worship service on the Sea of Galilee, each participant was asked to bring on the boat a small rock that represented something in life that the worshiper wanted to let go of or give over to the Lord. For some, their pebbles represented a secret sin or a broken relationship; for both Carlos and Karla, their rocks represented a willingness to remain single if that was God’s will. They expressed their devotion by dropping their rocks overboard into the water.
They didn’t know that as their rocks sank to the bottom of the Sea of Galilee, a lifetime of singleness was no longer God’s will for them.
On the last night of the trip, Carlos gathered his bus members together for a time of prayer. As the group formed a circle, the invisible hand of God just happened to place Carlos and Karla next to each other. Taking her hand in his, Carlos prayed with Karla, and at that moment, something special happened in their hearts.
But mountaintop love rarely lasts in the valley of life. So Karla was reluctant to grow too attached to Carlos. Besides, even though Carlos spoke English as well as Spanish, Carlos and Karla came from diverse cultures and backgrounds. However, at the gentle nudging of a friend, Karla remained open to what God might be doing in her life and what part Carlos might play in it.
Their friendship began in Israel, continued in Texas, and after several months, a romance was underway . . . and God worked quietly.
Then, in March 2011, Carlos made plans to travel to Guatemala for ministry. Carmen Montgomery, the executive director of Visión Para Vivir, would be accompanying him, and Karla was to come along to take photos. Knowing they would be traveling the same exact week of their previous Israel trip, Carlos decided to propose marriage in Guatemala.
March 11, 2011, marked one year to the day that Carlos and Karla met in Israel. That evening, while sitting in a restaurant in Antigua, Guatemala, with ministry friends, Carlos proposed. A few months later, on November 11, 2011, Karla Brand became Karla Zazueta.
Marriage isn’t simply the uniting of a man and a woman from different families to form a new family. Marriage is the uniting of one unique personality with another unique personality—and in the case of Carlos and Karla, the uniting of two people from diverse cultures and linguistic backgrounds. This is why at their wedding the reading of Ruth 1:16 was especially appropriate: “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God” (NIV, emphasis added).
God delights in diversity. And God is the only one who can truly join two diverse people into a new unity—a new love. Yes, they are so different in many ways; but now the two things they have in common are the love they have for their God, and the love they have for one another. They may not know what lies ahead, but this they know: He, the Lord will be with them always!