A Dream and a Prayer

General Conference

A Dream and a Prayer

How a vision to provide God’s Word to Ukrainian refugees is becoming a reality.

Mission | Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Beth Thomas, ANN

It all began with a dream—one Liz Enid Polanco believes was divinely inspired. Polanco, a pastor, pastor’s wife, and sought-after public speaker from Puerto Rico, is a third generation Adventist. She attended Antillean Adventist University, graduating in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in theology and two minors: pastoral theology and secondary education. 
For the last 35 years, Polanco has served the Seventh-day Adventist Church in a variety of roles, including Bible worker, educator, and Women’s Ministries leader. In 2000, she began speaking for women’s retreats, marriage seminars, and youth retreats in Puerto Rico, which eventually led to international speaking engagements in the United States, Canada and beyond. 

Sensing a need to provide spiritual encouragement during the coronavirus pandemic, Polanco began a “church without borders” ministry using Facebook Live. Her Facebook page “Liz Enid Polanco Ministries” currently has over 18,000 followers. At the height of the pandemic, up to 500 people, both Adventist and non-members, joined her early every morning for prayer and Bible study. This effort has resulted in baptisms as Polanco connects non-members with churches in their area. 

Recently, Polanco was invited to speak for a conference in the US state of Indiana. One of the couples who participated in her prayer and Bible study group planned to attend the event. Due to some unforeseen circumstances, the husband was unable to go. 

He reached out to Polanco with an intriguing message on WhatsApp. He’d had a dream about her he wanted to share, but hesitated because he didn’t believe dreams really had significant meaning. He was strongly impressed to tell her about it, anyway.

The Unusual Dream

In his dream, at the end of the conference for which she was speaking, a Cuban woman picked Polanco up in a 1950s era Russian car and drove her to the Ukrainian border. Polanco wore exercise clothes, complete with running shoes. When she crossed the border, she came to an apartment building. As she walked up the stairs, she met two soldiers—one African, the other Ukrainian. She held a rolled message in each hand. 

The Ukrainian soldier asked why she was there; it was too dangerous for her, he said. She handed one of the rolled messages to the African soldier who opened it to discover a map outlining a way to escape the conflict. In the dream, she prayed with them, then turned and ran back to the border where her Cuban friend waited. 

The man noticed that something strange happened as Polanco ran. Her running shoes turned into high heels. “Why is she running in heels? And with such speed! How can she do that?” he wondered. Polanco reached the car and she and her chauffeur left, ending the dream.

When the man related the details to Polanco, he thought perhaps it meant she was to do something to help Ukraine. He suggested she pray about it. She would encounter challenges (as indicated by running in high heels), he believed, but God would give her the strength and speed she needed to accomplish His will. 

A Plan Takes Shape

Arriving home in Puerto Rico after the conference, Polanco didn’t have peace. She asked her Facebook group to join her in praying for wisdom to determine what God wanted her to do. “But every time I knocked on a door,” she says, “the door didn’t open.” 

She was desperate. The message in the dream seemed urgent—if only she knew what it meant! Like Esther of old, she set aside three days for fasting and prayer, asking God to show her what she needed to do. 

One morning, the Holy Spirit woke her at 4 a.m. “Liz,” He said, “focus on the dream. What were you holding in your hands? Was it food, water, clothes or medicine? You were taking a map. A map to where they could escape to a secure refuge. I am the Refuge! And the way to find Me is through My Word. I need My people to take Bibles to Ukraine. The world has been sending food, medications and clothes, but no one is sending Bibles.”
She had her answer. She would focus on raising funds to purchase Ukrainian Bibles specifically designed for children, soldiers and adults. She didn’t know where to start so she called a friend in Canada and told her of her impression. Her friend recommended calling a Ukrainian friend in California. Providentially, the friend’s brother is a pastor in Ukraine. 

Over a Zoom call, Polanco met the pastor. She told him about the dream. Tears streamed down his face as he listened. Just that day, he had been praying that God would provide Bibles. His church, as many others in the region, has become a shelter for displaced Ukrainians and every day refugees ask for a Bible or spiritual literature. They left everything in their haste to flee the advancing Russian troops and they especially miss their Bibles. God’s chosen means of answering his prayer was through a dream, given to a stranger in America. 

[Photo Courtesy of Liz Enid Polanco]
[Photo Courtesy of Liz Enid Polanco]

Overcoming Obstacles

Since that initial conversation, Polanco has been in contact with other pastors and church leaders from the Ukrainian Union, Hope Channel Ukraine, and Adventist World Radio. Her goal is to provide 40,000 Bibles for distribution to children, soldiers and adults. 

[Photo Courtesy of Liz Enid Polanco]
[Photo Courtesy of Liz Enid Polanco]

One of the first obstacles Polanco has faced is finding a publishing house able to produce Bibles. When she contacted the Bible society in Ukraine, she learned that it is under Russian possession and they are unable to print anything, but they can sell what they have in storage—about 15,000 volumes. A publishing house in Poland agreed to print the remaining 25,000 Bibles. 

The second challenge has been raising enough money to buy 40,000 Bibles. Polanco received enough to send the first group of 5,000 Bibles from the Ukrainian publishing house. After hearing her vision, they actually donated some of the Bibles. The next shipment of 10,000 will be purchased in early May. 

Polanco is reaching out to the global Adventist community for assistance in this vision. Her Facebook group has been actively promoting this initiative, as well as Adventist Chaplains, who are providing spiritual support for soldiers in the war effort. 

Bibles range in price from $3-6 USD for beautifully illustrated children’s volumes and $8.50 USD for adult translations, to $15 USD for the specially designed camouflaged soldier’s version which is small enough to slip inside a pocket and is made of durable material. Polanco’s goal is to raise $300,000. 

For more information and to partner with her ministry in sending Bibles to Ukraine, visit https://www.facebook.com/LEPMinistries.