Lori’s Story

This is my story about a friend of mine that I only knew for about 15 minutes before she died.

There have been many, many days that have passed since she left this world.  I think of her at times and wonder, “Why did she pick me?”  Why that particular day, and, why didn’t I listen on any other day?  I passed her several times on my walks to the gym and back to work during my lunch breaks. Several times I’ve often wondered who she was; where she came from; why she was there; and why she carried so many things.  I also thought, maybe it was not my business, or maybe I would offend her if I were to ask or offer help.

There were several other people that walked by her, as they walked up and down the streets every day.  Didn’t they wonder the same thing as I? Why didn’t they help her?  I couldn’t have been the only one that thought these things? Someone else could help her, I thought. Someone else could have spoken to her and ask her the things that I was wondering. …but ‘someone else’ never did.

June 28, 2010, is a day that most people will not remember, but I will forever remember the events of that day in detail.  I am still not sure of its meaning then or now.  I am also not sure that I will ever know what it truly meant to the other two individuals.

Someone lost their life that day. It was a stranger that I had just met ten minutes prior and she died in MY arms.  I did not even know her name.  I never knew her before that day, I only saw her sitting at an inactive bus stop every day with bags.   All I know now is that I love her.  To this day, I miss her as if she had been in my life all of my life.

The Baltimore metro area is notorious for its hot, humid summer days.  This particular summer of 2010, had record setting temperatures.  I usually walk to the gym a few blocks from where I work.  Several senior citizen homes are located on this street block and I see seniors all the time during my walks – sitting on benches, conversing amongst themselves, walking and enjoying the day.  However, there was one lady that always drew my attention.  She sat in the same place, at the same time every day.   She sat at an inactive bus stop.  She sat on the bench that remained but the bus would never again stop there. I had often wondered if she knew this, or if she was actually waiting for a bus with all those things.  She just sat there day in and day out, all by herself, never engaged with anyone else.

I wanted to ask her why she was there, or to tell her that this bus stop was no longer an active bus stop.  She had several bags with her as well as several bottles of water that must have been warm from the exposure to the heat.  At the end of my work day, as I drove by, she was gone.  So I figured that she had a place to go to at night.

There were several events that guided me to be by her side on that particular day, the day she passed.  I was meant to be there that day.  I was scared to approach her before because I thought that her life was none of my business. I thought that she might be offended if I took pity on her, or maybe she was just plain okay and didn’t want to be bothered.  However, I know now that these messages were from God.

I heard a sermon by a preacher on a Christian station a few nights before.  The preacher stated that sometimes God speaks to us through a nagging desire to do something. It may be to help someone, approach someone, or just talk to somebody about their problems in their life, and we may feel scared.  During his sermon, I thought of ‘her’.  I really did want to approach her.  I had that awful nagging feeling about her situation as well, just like the preacher was speaking about.  The preacher went on. . .  He said, “God’s work has to be hard; God’s work is NOT easy. God pushes us to do things that WE are not comfortable with.”  I thought to myself, “I have to do this, and I have to do this the very next time I see her!”

As I walked to the gym that next day after I heard that sermon, she was there. So, I resolved to buy an ice cold fresh bottle of water as I left the gym to give to her on my walk back to work. I thought that the offer of water would be a conversation starter and maybe if she spoke to me, I could help.  On my walk to the gym, she looked as if she was very tired, leaning on her many bags. She looked different …something was different.  As I walked back to work with a fresh, cold bottle of water in my hand, I approached her. She was now lying down on the bench.  I stooped down and said, “Ma’am, excuse me, would you like a cold bottle of water?”  She looked disoriented but managed to extend the arm that was beneath her head to reach out for the bottle.  Something was wrong.

I tried to ask her more questions and I tried to get her to sit up. She was breathing really heavily and I kept asking her if she was okay. She only looked straight ahead with eyes glazed over while still attempting to drink some water from the bottle.  I held it up to her lips while attempting to hold her frail body upright so she could drink.  At this time, I heard a voice from the other side of the bus stop asking if we needed assistance.  It was a gentleman that I had never seen before either.  I informed him of this lady’s situation and he helped me to sit her up.  As he held her, I called for help.  We waited for the ambulance together with her. While we waited, I sat next to her and put one of her arms around my neck, while the gentleman held her other arm to hold her upright. I kept trying to get her to drink more water, but it seemed as if she could not drink.

All of a sudden I felt helpless, why did I stop if I could not help her? I felt useless. Then, as if I was supposed to do this, I had an overwhelming feeling of love for her.  I took my other arm and I hugged her around her shoulders and just hugged her and held her as tight as I could and kissed her on her cheek.  I just felt that she needed love.  Unlike the other seniors in the community, she was always alone. Those other seniors traveled in pairs or sat in groups, but not her. She was alone every day at that same old bus stop.  What happened then changed my life.

All this time, she did not move except for an attempt at that water bottle. However, her last attempt to communicate in this life was to show ME love.  After I hugged her tightly and then once again tried to get her to drink, her left hand which lay on my thigh, moved up and down my leg. Then she squeezed my leg as if to say “Thank you for caring and I love you too”.  The ambulance pulled around the corner.  They attempted to take her from my arms, but at that very moment, she took a deep breath with her chest extended up then her body fell weak.  They took her inside the ambulance but could not revive her.

I was devastated. I thought I was led there by God to help her, to save her life, but she died. Why did she die? I could have saved her before. Why did I wait so long to stop? Why did God let her die?  As Christians, we are told that everything has a meaning and a purpose.  I was only with her for a few minutes before she died.  I was confused as to what purpose in my life, or hers, this had served.  Her life was over.

After that day, I wanted to at least attend her viewing or funeral. I needed to find out who she was and I wanted to meet her family.  I spoke with the police officer that was there a few days later.  He informed me that her name was Charlotte and apparently she was homeless.  However, the police officer said that she did stay in a shelter often but not every night.  He said that her case supervisor said that she had no next of kin listed on her information.  Her belongings and body would be taken care of by the state.  After hearing this, I thought how sad. She lived alone and now she died alone.  Then it hit me.

She didn’t die alone! I was with her during her very last moment on this earth! She was loved.  And I still love her. I am putting this experience to paper, because I want to memorialize her.  I didn’t know her before that day, but I do love her.

I also realized later that she probably did know that she was at a bus stop. She knew she had somewhere to go and I suppose that she knew where she was going.  She went home that day, June 28, 2010, but not the home that any Metro Bus could take her. She was called home that day by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

There was also another miracle that day. Remember the gentleman that was also at the bus stop who helped me hold Ms. Charlotte upright? I only know him by his first name, John.  That is how he introduced himself after the ambulance drove away.  But on that day, he professed that he was on a difficult journey.  He was waiting at the bus stop for a ride.  He was not from this area and did not know that the bus stop was no longer active.  After Ms. Charlotte passed and the ambulance drove away, John confessed that his faith in God was in doubt by the events of the past few years of his life.  He noticed the cross hanging around my neck and thanked me for the sacrifice of my time that day.  He said that his faith in the human race had now been restored because a stranger was willing to help another in their time of need.

There were three people at the bus stop that day that needed saving.  A man named John whose faith was restored, Ms. Charlotte, who received a stranger’s love in her very last moment on this earth, and me.  I thought that the world never recognized any good I ever did; I always felt that all of my efforts were fruitless, despite any of my efforts.  However, somehow these few minutes restored my soul and gave me the courage to go on.

I know that my life has a purpose.  My life’s purpose on June 28, 2010, was to be at THAT bus stop to help two people go Home.  Three strangers met that day, three strangers came together for a purpose that day, and three strangers went Home that day at The Bus Stop in one way or another.  John and I live with our faith restored only to be called Home another day.  However, Ms. Charlotte went Home that day.  She actually held on long enough to restore my life, John’s faith and to know and to feel love from a complete stranger.

“For I was hungry and you gave Me food, I was thirsty and you gave Me drink, a stranger and you welcomed Me. Then the righteous will answer Him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? And the King will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for Me.” Matthew 25

An Addict’s Story

I don’t have a sensational story. I lived a descent life. Went to Catholic, then Lutheran, then Baptist churches. I suffer from depression, and have tried to commit suicide many times. I grew up in the church but never had a relationship with Jesus. My whole life all I wanted was love. I looked for it with women in sinful ways and had an addiction to pornography. I got married to a wonderful woman but still suffered from my addiction. I saw her and how she loved Jesus and it had an effect on me.

One night I was listening to talk radio and Pastor Alistair Begg came on. I can’t even remember what he said, but I started weeping because I finally got it. All of the searching for love, even love with my wife, and it was there the whole time. He had loved me my entire life, and I never saw it. I told my wife about it and she was so happy for me. The funny thing is, as much as she loved Jesus, she also didn’t have that relationship with Him. She did all the right things but didn’t give all of herself to Him. So I got saved partially through her example and she got saved partially through mine. Since then, He has greatly changed our lives. I can’t imagine living without Him!

Christine’s Story

My name is Christine and this is my story of how God has worked in my life. Four years ago I was living in Memphis, TN with my husband and 2 kids (both boys). I was depressed and I was destroying my marriage online with men other than my husband. I was depressed and I did not feel like myself any more. I was contemplating divorce. But on the night before Easter my husband, a Christian for about a year at the time, confronted me about what was going on online. I had talked the talk but did not walk the walk. Anyway, my husband and I talked for a little while then I went bed crying. The next day was Easter morning so I got up and read my Bible and, like most Catholics, I read about the crucifixion. When I got to the part where Jesus asked His Father to “forgive them for they not know what they do” God spoke to my heart and asked why I could not forgive those who have hurt me. See I was depressed, because I was still holding on to old hurts, and I took that anger out on my family. Anyway after God convicted me of my anger, He pointed me to Matthew 9:12 where Jesus tells the Pharisees that He did not come for the saved but He came for the unsaved. He came for the sick, and I knew I was sick. And that is when got on my knees and prayed that God would take the anger away and help me forgive. He showed me that I am sinner and that I need Him to come and live in my heart. That night I talked to my husband about what had happened that morning and I asked his for forgiveness. He told me that he had already forgiven me. I washed his feet and my children’s feet and, even though they were too young to really understand what was going on, I asked for their forgiveness too. Now four years later my husband and I celebrated ten years of marriage this past May. So not only did God heal me, He healed my marriage! Praise God!

Luke’s Story

On October 9th of 2010 our 6 month old son DJ passed away in our arms after a week in the hospital and finally having to make the decision to take him off of life support. The next several months were very difficult for my wife and I and nearly cost us our marriage but with the help of a counselor and finding a good church home we began to mend ourselves and our relationship. All was going pretty well but I still resented God because I had prayed asking for his protection over my family every single day from the day DJ was born, and felt that God dropped the ball by allowing our son to die. During the last week in the hospital with our son I prayed with every last bit of faith I could scrape together that God take me and spare my son, and when that prayer wasn’t answered, I was done with God. However, we were seeing a counselor and had found a church home (I was just going to church to appease my wife and I wasn’t really into it) but even though I couldn’t see it at the time, God was busy at work slowly chipping away at the wall I had put up.

On March 2nd 2011, the day before what was supposed to be our son’s first birthday my wife found out she was pregnant. It was a bit of a surprise because we hadn’t been serious about “trying” . This was great news, but we had very mixed emotions as we were still grieving . The weeks seemed to fly by and before we knew it it was Oct 9 2011, the 1 year anniversary of DJ’s death. It was a very sad day for us and my wife suggested we go out to a movie to get our minds off of it. I had heard good reviews about Courageous and so we decided to see it. I had heard good reviews, but we had no clue what the plot of the movie was. Needless to say, this movie hit me like nothing I had ever experienced before. My wife and I were sobbing uncontrollably right there in the theater and I didn’t even care if anyone saw me. This movie and the timing of my seeing it has changed my life I don’t just go to church anymore, I made a commitment to myself and to my family and began to assume my role as the spiritual head of my family. It has brought me closer to my wife and to the Lord!

On Oct 25th 2011, we welcomed our precious daughter into the world. I chose her name based on its meaning, Abigail – joy of the father, Johanna – grace of God (also my wife’s middle name). She was born with congenital heart defects and had her first open heart surgery when she was 1 month old. The surgery went well and her heart was fixed. This wasn’t the end of her problems , she is now fighting an very rare condition called Pulmonary Vein Stenosis – PVS is the abnormal growth of the pulmonary veins that causes the walls to grow thicker and, left untreated, the veins will close completely, stopping the flow of blood back to the heart from the lungs resulting in death. This condition only effects about 100 children per year in the U.S.  Some kids simply outgrow the condition and others end up needing a lung transplant. Our daughter is now just about 4 months old and just had her third open heart surgery to open up her pulmonary veins and she remains strong. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by it all but I stand fast on God’s word that Jesus  bore our sins, and all sickness and  infirmities on the cross and therefore as believers were are not subject to the curse of sickness and I refuse to tolerate its symptoms! I continue to bind Satan and his principalities, powers, dark spirits and wickedness in holy places from operating against my family in any way! I cast Satan out as he has no place in us and I do so under the authority of the almighty God! Each day my wife and I pray and give thanks for our daughter’s complete health and healing! We still have a long road ahead of us, but today I can trust in my God to show us the way and light the darkness. We haven’t been able to work for the last 2 ½ months, but the Lord has provided for us. We seem to get money from somewhere just when we need it to pay the bills! Then we found out that our church and our friends have organized a fundraiser for us to help offset the medical expenses! Now we see new doors opening in front of us as our daughter may get included in a clinical trial at Children’s Hospital in Boston that would treat/manage her condition until she is old enough for a transplant, she outgrows the condition, or she shows physical signs of her Divine healing!!!

In closing, I would like to thank you for listening to God when he told you to make movies because, through you, He spoke to me when I needed it the most.

Alejandro’s Story

Beloved believers,

English is not my first language, but I’ll try do to my best to tell you a beautiful testimony based on the movie Fireproof.

We’ve been married for 7 years, unfortunately not all of them together as it should be. Four years ago, many arguments ended in a decision that she took, she left our house. A few months before this horrible day, we began to participate in a Christian group. It was shocking to be looking for a closer relationship with God and then see your marriage destroyed.

It was devastating on my own in our house, waiting for her. She was with not very good company, as happens in most of this situations. Typically the one who walks out don’t want to be closer to anyone who is trying to make you see that you are going in a high speed route to hell, only those who want to support you and take take advantage of your vulnerability.

Weeks and months went by with the deepest sadness I’ve ever felt. I couldn’t find a new way to live. One day a person who assisted this group invited us to a Christian church. I wasn’t very sure to go, but in my situation I didn’t have anything to lose. I went to this place and every week I’ve been there since then. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. Every time I go, I can feel the presence of God, its amazing. My suffering wasn’t minor, but I started to cope with it.

As a man, I started to flirt with other women a had a few relationships even though I was still waiting for her, and after two years I realize she was having the time of her life (obviously in the wrong path) and I wasn’t enjoying mine.

Then someone gave my one of the greatest gifts ever, Fireproof and The Love Dare. I took the decision to do the 40 day challenge, no matter what was happening. It was hard but full of hope. Sadly things didn’t change too much. I waited a couple of months and I saw the movie with her, this day I thought my life with would take the correct way, but it didn’t last long.

Finally I decided to find a person to reestablish my family life. Soon my wife showed up again, heartbroken, begging for a chance to rebuild our marriage. It was very difficult, but I saw her many times with this new attitude. She decided to do the Love Dare on me and we received great support from the leaders in the church. Our marriage emerged from the deepest hole and now we are married again and have a beautiful 5 month old daughter – a blessing from God.

We don’t have any reasonable way to pay back to you what we received from God throughout the movie and the book, we will be always in debt to you. All our prayers are with you and for your ministry and we have to tell you how great it is to  regain a family. Now we are passing the tools you created to those who cannot see a way out of problems in marriage.

We’ve been trying, its not easy, but this week something great happened, and a close couple to us saw the movie and came to the church and now are on their way to finding our Lord, that it’s a feeling I cannot express. God bless you.

Sincerely,
A very happy man, husband and father

Epic Church’s Story

Editor’s Note: Epic Church is a church plant of Sherwood located in San Francisco, CA. They recently inhabited their own permanent meeting space.

I have had few moments in ministry that could compare with the last 48 hours.  Our team was exhausted getting our new space ready.  There were many challenges, and other things I can only attribute to spiritual attacks going into last Saturday night.

Right before the service began, I was overwhelmed with this sense of God’s goodness and that He was giving us major victory in that service.  That’s exactly what He did!

We had 212 in attendance, including 43 first time guests and 9 second time guests.  There were around 25 children there, which was a new thing for us.  The space looked and sounded amazing.  And to top it off- six people indicated decisions for Christ.

A few Stories:

-Natasha (one of our key volunteers) invited her friend Joanna.  Joanna has never really been to church and thought horribly about church-going people.  She only came as a favor to Natasha.  Yesterday I found out that she left the service believing God was speaking directly to her, and told me yesterday she’ll be here every Sunday she isn’t working.

-Travis is the broker that helped us secure our space.  He came yesterday just out of goodwill.  He isn’t a church-going person at all.  At the end of the day, his wife is signing up for our mom’s small group and he told me they will be attending more frequently.

-Today, Lindsey (on the Epic staff) had lunch with Jenny who is the legal administrator for the San Francisco Giants.  She has been attending and came to the service Sunday.  She emailed Lindsey and said she was ready for her next step.  After lunch today, she prayed out loud (of her own initiative) for Christ to save her.

I hope you all can see what you are making possible out here.  Thanks for being in this with us!  Would you keep praying for a movement here?

With a full heart,
Ben
Pastor of Epic Church

Kristin’s Story

We met in preschool. After going to different elementary and high schools, I was reunited with this certain young man the summer before my senior year. He was not a little boy any more, but stood 6’4″ and would be a senior starter for his high school basketball team the following school year. Rumor also had it that he was a pretty good Christian guy. Long story short, after some prayer and conversations, we began dating and I was in heaven. I had finally found a guy that was crazy about me, and not only professed to be a Christian, but lived it. He was my best friend, and we helped each other through tough times: rough senior years and the deaths of grandmothers, to name a few. We set out to different colleges after a year, with the strong belief that we had met the one God had for us, and the promise that we would wait out the distance and be together one day.

My first year of college was filled with scattered weekend visits and MANY hours on the phone. It did not matter to me though. All done for the sake of love in my mind. After my second semester, I was approached by several loving friends who were concerned about this relationship. They were concerned that I was settling and being held back. Heartbroken, I went to the Lord, hoping that they were wrong and begging for a sign that I was where I was supposed to be. I honestly was given a peace, and felt the Lord say “Stay”. So I stayed, thinking that the Lord’s “stay” meant “stay forever”.

The next year was filled with more visits and hours of phone conversations. I went to the Lord a few more times that year with, “Am I to end this?”, and always got “Stay”. Conversations became heavily dominated with talk of marriage and a future wedding. I was convinced of knowing God’s plan, and made plans to speed up the education process and graduate a semester early. We celebrated three years together, and spent a summer taking classes at our respective colleges. Then came the wrestling match with God. It came to the point that I just wasn’t sure I could take it any more. We would argue about the littlest things. I found myself not being myself and walking on eggshells. For the first time, I had serious doubts about this relationship, and turned to God one last time saying, “Is this really it?”. When I didn’t have a peace immediately, I was scared. I racked my brain and poured over the Word for weeks, trying to figure out what was wrong or where it had gone wrong. I finally decided to make a surprise trip home. There was a break in between semesters, and honestly, even at 20 years old, I just needed my Momma. I cried and poured my heart out to her, not understanding why I wasn’t hearing from the Lord. I was praying for a peace and wasn’t getting anything. My mom, with all her motherly wisdom, said, “Why don’t you pray for a peace to end it?”. I honestly hadn’t thought about that option, and I think now, its because I knew what the outcome would be. The moment I thought that prayer, I knew what had to be done. My mind, heart, and soul were finally at peace, but I felt sick to my stomach. Heartbroken, I made the phone call, then later a visit, to break things off with a guy I had planned to marry. Anything other than that, or a delay in that, would have been direct disobedience to God.

That was three years ago, and while my story might not seem like a big deal to some, I can tell you this was the hardest step of obedience I have taken to date, and one that completely changed the course of my life. I know now that I would have missed out on God’s best for my life which, by His goodness, He has shown to be ending up in Albany, Georgia. Obedience isn’t always easy, but it is always for God’s glory.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

No matter how much planning I do or how I think I have it figured out, I have learned that His plan is always better.

Beccy’s Story

Where does one begin?  The Lord has been so faithful to me.  I grew up a pastor’s daughter in a very loving home. I accepted Christ when I was 11.  When I went away to college, tragedy struck my family and my life drastically changed.  During this year when I was alone and at college, the Lord dealt with me.  Interestingly it was my anger towards the circumstances I found myself in that drove me to Scripture.  I began scouring the Scriptures and found myself in the book of Matthew.  The loving Savior showed me that forgiveness is essential for life.  He taught me of the price He paid so that I could be forgiven, and that anger towards others would only serve to destroy me.  I had no choice but to forgive. Not only was this lesson the turning point in my walk with the Lord, but also it stirred in me a hunger and thirst for His Word that has been my life line for the past 26 years.  Of course I had no way of knowing the years ahead of me would be filled with watching my spouse suffer from chronic illness, miscarriage, a wayward child and struggles beyond anything I could have believed.   I wish I had pages to write of His faithfulness of the way He has sustained me through the love of other believers, but mainly through the Word of my Lord and Savior.   In His love and mercy He left us His Holy Spirit and the written Word. Each day I long to find myself among the pages of Him, and that is my desire for all people.  In Job 38, after all the suffering and pain that Job had gone through, God reminds him who HE is. This passage brings me much comfort, knowing who He is and will always be throughout eternity.  What assurance to know, regardless of the circumstances of this life, He and His Word do not change and will not be moved.

Psalm 27:13,14
I would have despaired unless I believed the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord;  Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.

Brett (& Don)’s Story

This past January I received a call from Ms. Shirley over at the Biblical Counseling Center, where I serve as a volunteer counselor, saying she had a man that needed to be seen immediately. David was booked and asked that she call me. With much hesitation, I agreed to meet with the gentleman. I can honestly say that I have never in my life seen anyone in his condition – bearing the weight of the world so visibly on his shoulders. Don* (a white male in his 50′s) looked almost like he was walking dead. We made our introductions and Don’s first words to me was that his plan had been interrupted the night before, but that it was just a temporary interruption and he would eventually carry out his plan. He said he had been a Christian all of his life, been a deacon most of his adult life, and been on numerous local and foreign missions trips, but that there was no counseling in the world that could stop him. You see, Don had attempted to take his own life the night before and this is his (and our) story…

Don ran a large successful business for many years. However, as the economy continued to struggle, so did his business. As with most big businesses, when it fell, it fell hard and left a ton of destruction in its path. Don had lost the ability to provide for his family and had damaged numerous friendships and business relationships because of the debts he could no longer pay. Don said, “I know what God’s Word says, but I have no purpose, I’ve lost all hope, and I don’t want to face what the future has in store for me.” It was that mindset that led Don through about a 9-month period of planning to end his life. Don left work (he had gotten a temporary job) this particular Tuesday night in January with his rifle between the seats headed north on I-75. When he got tired of driving, he pulled off of the interstate (just south of Atlanta) and into the side parking lot of a gas station. While Don sat there gathering his thoughts and preparing to carry out his plan, he heard a tap on his window.

Phil* (a black male in his 50′s) is an ex-marine who became a homeless over the past few years because of a drinking problem. Phil was passing through the parking lot and, even though he’d been drinking, was able to notice that Don was out of place. He approached Don’s truck and (not noticing the rifle) asked if Don needed directions or anything. Don gave some lame excuse for being there just to get Phil to leave. As Phil turned to walk away, he said that it was as if someone else took over his body. He walked a few feet away before turning around and knocking on Don’s window again. Phil told Don that he knew something was wrong and made Don unlock the door on the passenger side of the truck so he could get in. As he was getting in, Phil saw the rifle and Don admitted to his intentions. Phil said he sobered up quickly and began witnessing to Don. He reminded Don of what all he had to live for and of God’s love. What a picture… two men from very different walks of life, both facing their own form of extreme hopelessness, being brought together at a very critical point in time. After a time of witnessing and prayer, Phil was able to convince Don to call his wife and return home. Phil said that this was the first time that he had ever hugged a white man and told a white man that he loved him. Amazing God-sized intervention, huh? But wait, it gets better!

As we met in the counseling room and Don reached the end of his story, he reiterated that he had no desire to live any longer and that Phil had just delayed the inevitable. Wow. It was now my turn to talk and I wasn’t quite sure where to start. So, I decided to be brutally honest about myself. I admitted to him that I was not qualified to counsel him. I told him that I had been counseling for about a year there at the counseling center, but that my counseling experience had only included adolescent boys, no adults. I also told him that since he was several years older, he probably had more Bible knowledge than I do. But, I went on to say that just like it was no accident that God brought him and Phil together the night before, it was no accident that He brought us together. I explained to him that I had been unemployed for 4 months and was not able to provide for my family, just like him – we had no money to pay our February mortgage payment. I had to admit that there was a part of me that was slowly drifting towards hopelessness and helplessness. After we talked for a while longer and studied the truths found in Romans 8:28-29, Don committed to delay his plan and meet with me on a regular basis for a few weeks so that, together, we could see what God’s Word had to say to us and our circumstances.

For the sake of time, let me fast-forward a bit, but you are missing some other real good stuff! After a few months of being exposed to the truths and promises found in God’s Word, Don realized he had erroneously defined his purpose in life as being able to provide for his family, rather than to glorify God. When he lost that ability to adequately provide for his family, he lost his purpose and became hopeless. His circumstances have not changed, and may have even gotten worse, but he has learned to praise and trust God even in the midst of the storm. Don is more passionate about his walk with Christ than probably ever before and there is a unity in his marriage that hasn’t existed in years. Don and I reached out to Phil within a few days of our first visit and God worked it out to where we could go pick him up and bring him down to The Anchorage. I have received word that Phil has made excellent progress with his alcohol addiction and is progressing in his love for the Lord. In my own life, I am humbled that God chose to include me in this amazing turn of events. My once-wavering trust in God has been replaced by a firm conviction that He is working all things out for my good and His glory, and I am more passionate than ever before about speaking truth into the lives of others and encouraging them to walk in it. As for my job situation, I have been blessed with the opportunity to be a part of the ministries we will develop downtown at the old Coca-Cola facility. God is good.

*Names changed to respect their privacy.

Hannah’s Story

Well it all began when she was born.  We have done our best to raise her in the admonition of the Lord, sometimes we feel good about it and sometimes we feel like any other parent – Is she getting it? Are we doing and saying the right things?  Does she understand that this faith is something we want her to have too?  I mean really she’s only 6, about to be 7 years old… is she ready?  We have prayed that one day she would come know to this grace on her own. And finally she did!

The last several months have been different.  Hannah has been coming home from Kid’s Rock each week so excited to share with us all she has learned about the Lord.  Of course, we are elated about how God is working in her little heart!  She could go into detail about what she was taught.  She could even share the funny parts that the Relevate Worship Team would dramatize to bring the point home.

But the night of April 17th was when she knew that it clicked for her!  It went a little something like this… We got in the van to go home after the Sunday night service and I asked, “So what did you learn tonight in Kid’s Rock?” Hannah responds, “We learned about Jesus in the tomb and how He died for our sins.  Mommy I believe that.”  Of course, by this time I’m welling up… I respond, “It’s so good to know that Jesus loves us so much that He died for us and we can live with Him in Heaven one day, isn’t it?  She replied, “Yes Mommy” with a great big smile!  Also there is something I’ve been thinking about for a while now… Can you ask Mr. David (our Children’s Pastor) about getting me baptized?”  I was shocked because you have to know something about Hannah – she is terrified of putting her head under water.

So we pull into the driveway, sit down to have dinner as a family, and she begins to tell my husband the whole story again.  Hannah explains that she wants to be baptized and she clearly wants Mr. David to do it!  After talking, celebrating, and praying with her, my husband continues to explain a few things.  He says, “Hannah you know that you have to put your head all the way under the water, right?”  Hannah said, “Yes Daddy, but God will keep me safe!”

It is so amazing to see the work of our Great God in our own children!  He truly is at work in our hearts and lives!  It’s a blessing to know too, that the Children’s Ministry is being so faithful to pour into our kids, and is making impact for the Kingdom! I am thankful and grateful for the Holy Spirit being at work, and for the work of those who helped to encourage our little girl to know Jesus for her very own!