#40 Never Had I Felt So Close To Heaven

 Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

I’ve asked God for many years that before I leave this earth I wanted to step foot onto African soil. I never knew exactly why this was such a strong desire for so many years, and as each year passed, I began to wonder if this prayer would be answered.

On March 25, 2016, I lost my job as an RN recruiter with no forewarning—no two weeks to plan my future, direction, or to give me time to tell my husband that my income was gone. But I had this crazy joy and peace down in my soul that I could not explain. It was then I knew God was up to something. I just wanted to be ready to say “Yes, Lord.”

Within five days I received a text from an awesome man of God stating that I was supposed to go with him in three months to Swaziland, Africa and do a women’s Christian conference. My response was, “I just lost my job, and as much as my heart desires to be in Africa, there is no way.” He responded, “If you will have faith and believe, God will provide.” Wow! He had said a mouthful. I had been asked several times to go to Africa on different occasions but it was never the right time. So I began fasting and praying, and it wasn’t long before I had my answer. Now, how was I going to tell my husband that besides losing my job, I have got to raise thousands of dollars within three months to fly across the world? But God…

When I shared my heart and what God had spoken to me, I began to hear faith rise up in my husband—and I know nothing but the love of God could prepare me for what happened next. My husband said, “Not only do I support you going, but I am going with you!” Tears began to stream down my face uncontrollably and I started praising God in my kitchen, knowing without a doubt God was about to answer my long-time prayer request.

Now the hard part (or so I thought). This is where our faith becomes truly active. I knew the cost for me was a little mind blowing—but now with two of us? The price just doubled, but God continued to remind us that there is NOTHING IMPOSSIBLE with Him! We had only three months to raise about $8,000—and me without a job. I knew this was a God-Sized Assignment and that we needed to take it one step at a time.

To make a long story shorter, we launched a Go Fund Me page for the first time in our lives. It was humbling and exciting to see how God was going to work this all out! Our first 24 hours we had $240, and as each person began to fill our page with their donations, our hearts were filled with so much joy as we got closer to our goal. To God be the glory—we raised all the money for the trip and for even enough for spending! That is the kind of God we serve.

Now the best part. We arrived in Africa with my friends and another pastor that we fell in love with. We had a team of five people. We began ministering from the time we landed, and the bond that was formed during our two-week stay was phenomenal. The country is absolutely breathtaking! The people are so loving and embracing. But their love and hunger for God was more than amazing!

The day before the women’s conference began, women were walking with huge baskets on their heads, a bag in each hand, and some had a baby they were carrying around their waist. They were walking with excitement and anticipation, coming to the church to spend the night in order that they would not miss the opening session of the conference. The church was built from concrete blocks with a tin roof and concrete floors. These women don’t usually get the opportunity to have a conference just for them—sermons geared to their hurts, needs, and desires from God. Some of these women never went home; they stayed each night in the church, and each morning the ladies of the church would bring them breakfast—which usually consisted of boiled eggs, bread, and juice. I am a minister, and never have I seen such devotion.

After the conference there was a nightly revival. I realized that all these women could not go to bed until the revival was over and the church was emptied. My husband and I realized that these beautiful people were teaching us what it means to truly serve God with your whole heart. No matter the situation, no matter what we don’t have, we just need to serve and love Him for who He is. We had it all wrong. And as the tears began to stream down my husband’s face, we both realized why this trip God ordained was the right time.

God had me do an altar call, and as I was ministering, I noticed there was not one chair that still had a person sitting in it. All the women came to the altar for prayer, and I was reminded of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2. The whole church so was filled with the Presence of God that I could hardly breathe. Never in my Christian life had I ever felt so close to heaven. It was then that a new purpose for my life was being formed within my soul.

My husband…I can hardly write this without my soul being overwhelmed as I think about his transformation and what God was doing in his heart while in Africa. His prayer life changed and he was called into ministry while we experienced God in such a deep way. That’s why this time was the right time! The families we ministered to, the lives we touched, and those who touched us in very special ways have changed our lives. I told the people of Swaziland that I felt like I had traveled all this way because I had family here that I had never met. What a joyful reunion it turned out to be! Because of this trip, we now have a new commitment to God, we worship differently, we love deeper, we see through God’s eyes instead of our own, and we live to please God in anticipation of being able to spend an eternity with Him.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

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