For a Time Like This

One military mom shares how God used you to bless her family through Hero Squad!

There are three things Illianna Morel never expected for her life.

One: for her husband to join the U.S. Army.

Two: for her family to adopt their third child.

And three: for faithful, supportive believers like you to bless her entire family with the gift of God’s Word—right when they needed it most.

Thanks to you, our Hero Squad program is serving more than 21,000 military family members with quarterly Scripture care packages delivered right to their front doors.

Now, discover how you blessed Illianna’s family through this unique ministry!

Called to Serve

Five years ago, Illianna and her husband, Francisco, led a typical American life.

They lived in the same South Florida community where they were born and raised. They had two young children: gymnastics-loving Amayah and soccer-obsessed Elijah. And they both had full careers.

Years earlier, Francisco had shared the idea of joining the military with Illianna. But she immediately said no.

“I said I couldn’t do that,” Illianna remembers. “I couldn’t say goodbye to him over and over again.”

After experiencing two high-risk pregnancies and becoming parents to Amayah and Elijah, Illianna and Francisco saw the God-sized hole in their life. They gave their lives to Jesus. Shortly after, things began to change.

Illianna became close friends with several military families. She felt God working in her heart. At the same time, Francisco’s job left him feeling more and more empty. He still had a strong desire to serve his country. Then, at a crossroads in his career, a door opened for Francisco to join the U.S. Army. This time, Illianna said yes.

“It was very much God’s divine plan for our family to do this,” she says

Stepping into military life wasn’t easy—especially for Amayah and Elijah, then just seven and six years old. Suddenly, their dad wasn’t home every night. And none of their friends could relate to what they were feeling.

While Francisco was away for basic training, Illianna used their family’s faith in God to help Amayah and Elijah understand that they had their own call to serve—just like their dad.

“Military life is servanthood,” Illianna says. “We’re serving others, and sacrificing for others. If you don’t have that faith foundation to understand how to love our neighbor as ourselves, you’ll quickly find that serving others isn’t desirable. So, faith is everything.”

Called to Love

In 2019, the Morel family moved to their first on-base assignment. But an even bigger change was about to come their way.

For years, Illianna longed to add a third child to their family. Her previous high-risk pregnancies made it seem impossible for her to have any more children. When she brought up adoption, Francisco shared concerns about venturing into a broken foster care system.

“He was against it at first,” she says, “just like I was against joining the military.”

At the end of 2019, God answered Illianna’s prayers when Francisco agreed to move forward and complete the ten-week foster care training. Their very first placement was a three-week-old baby named Nate. Instantly, the entire family felt like Nate was supposed to stay forever.

They began the adoption process, but soon found themselves trapped in a painful custody case that made it seem like Nate would be taken away.

In those moments, Illianna remembers clinging to the Bible.

“I remember reading Nate a Bible story one night,” she says. “It was the story of Abraham, where God points to the stars in the sky and promises Abraham that his descendants will outnumber them. And God kept that promise to Abraham. I sat there with Nate and I cried. But I had so much peace, because that story reminded me of God’s promises to our family. Even if Nate went somewhere else, even if we lost him—fill in the blank with all my deepest worries and fears—God was still going to be good.”

In the end, God answered the Morel family’s prayers, and they officially adopted Nate, who is now three years old.

“Just like in our military calling, we saw God’s divine intervention again,” Illianna says

Called to Share

Last year, the Morel family experienced their first deployment.

For Illianna, those six long months were a wakeup call to the community and support her family so desperately needed. She began searching for military devotionals and found Hero Squad: quarterly, military-specific Scripture care packages, designed for kids and generously provided by faithful American Bible Society partners like you!

The Morel family’s first package arrived at the very end of Francisco’s deployment—and right before he was about to leave again for an unexpected assignment.

“You don’t realize how timely it was, and how much our family needed it,” Illianna remembers. “We were all struggling. Francisco was about to leave again after being gone for six months .And then, your package arrived!”

You sent the Morel family age-appropriate first Bibles, age and gender-specific devotionals for the kids, and gifts and activities for the family to enjoy together. Through you, they experienced God’s care in a difficult season of deployment. Now, four times a year, they look forward to receiving encouraging Scripture resources from you—their Hero Squad community.

“Thanks to you, I see my children building a personal relationship with God,” Illianna says. “To me, that’s everything. If I do nothing else in life but lead my children to Jesus, I will have done enough.”

Your support of Hero Squad also equips kids like Amayah, Elijah, and Nate to apply Scripture’s truths to their military experiences—and even use those experiences to encourage others.

“My kids now understand what it’s like to have deployed family,” Illianna says. “And we’ve seen God show up when we are missing our parent. He’s there. He is our Father, and he wants us to bring our hard times to him.”

This opportunity for her family to live out their faith in a military context reminds Illianna of one of her favorite verses: Esther 4:14b: “Yet who knows—maybe it was for a time like this that you were made queen!”

For the Morel family, these words have become a reminder of God’s faithful calling in every season—whether it was civilian life, adoption, or military service. But these words also apply to you! “For a time like this.” God used you to bless the Morel family right when they needed it. And for that, Illianna is abundantly thankful!

“From all the empty seasons that our family has gone through, and for all the ways this community has been there for us, thank you,” Illianna says. “Through your faithfulness, God has shown up!”

Read more stories of lives changed by God’s Word in Record magazine!

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