Osvaldo Francisco, upper left, and his family were displaced by an apartment building fire on Blake Street earlier this year. They were taken in by two pastors. Submitted photo

LEWISTON — When Osvaldo Francisco moved with his family to Maine last year from Texas where he had earned a degree in environmental science, he searched for a job for three months before he found work with the city of Lewiston.

And when the Angolan and his family were burned out of their Blake Street apartment in September, they were taken in by two pastors for two weeks until they could find permanent housing for themselves.

Despite enduring hardship in his life — or maybe because of it — Francisco’s faith sustains him during difficult times, he said.

“Our faith shows us our God is greater than every struggle and hardship,” he said recently. “And that’s where we are empowered.

“I can’t do anything all by myself, but ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,'” he said, quoting Philippians 4:13, a well-known Bible verse.

Francisco emigrated to Texas from Angola in 2013 to study at the University of Texas in San Antonio.


Last year, he applied for religious asylum in the United States and moved to Lewiston, where he lives with his wife and four children.

In September, he received his work authorization, but he had already started looking a couple of weeks before, he said.

Prospective employers would email or call him and invite him to apply for open positions. He said he would land interviews but then never hear back from them. They would tell him, “You did great. Someone will follow up on your application in the next two weeks,” but they never would, he said.

“One day I asked myself: ‘Why do employers tell me they are impressed with my qualifications, my interview was great, but then they would simply turn me down at the very last step of the hiring process?'” he said.

He nearly gave up the search, feeling defeated, he said.

“But then I understand that my responsibility was to keep on applying. I remembered that God had the final answer for all my prayers. So, I prayed to God that he would be the one to choose the job for me. I said, ‘God, let it be your will and not mine. Whatever you have in store for me, let it be.'”


Then in November, “God provided my breakthrough,” he said. “I heard that Lewiston City Hall was hiring for a caseworker position with the Social Services Department. I applied and prayed to God to bless me with the job if it was what he wanted for me. I got interviewed four days after and a week later I was offered the job. I am glad I kept believing in God and waiting on him. I did not lose my faith because I know he is the rewarder for them that diligently seek him.”

Francisco said he nearly lost faith when fire broke out the night of Sept. 11 in the four-story, 10-unit Blake Street apartment building they lived in. The fire, which has since been ruled an arson, killed a 70-year-old man who jumped from a window on the top floor.

The building was damaged by the fire and evacuated. Tenants were not allowed back for weeks.

“We ended up homeless,” Francisco said. “But God provided a home for us to stay while we were looking for a new place to live.”

First, the city and the American Red Cross put them up at a local motel. Then a pastor couple at a local church took the family into their home until Francisco and his family found a new home.

He said he maintains his faith through daily practice. “By prayer,” he said, “By living by it. By showing my faith with works. By continually seeking God first and letting everything else be added on to me. By trusting him with all my life.”

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