#144 Little Church by the Creek

Photo by Nicole Tarpoff 

About five years ago my husband and I felt called into ministry—specifically missions. We put our house up for sale and headed to Indonesia in Southeast Asia on a vision trip. We met with the agency we would be serving with and became familiar with the city and schools. We felt affirmed in our call, but when we got home we received a call from the agency saying it wasn’t going to work out. It was a denominational issue. We were members of a Christian Church and it was a Baptist agency. This was devastating news. We had felt so sure that God was calling us to missions. We looked again to the story of Abraham and Isaac, asking ourselves if we were ready to give it all up, and we felt we were.

This was followed by five years of seeking what God would have us to do. We decided to just be obedient to the step in front of us. We felt our call was to become radical disciples and to make radical disciples who would then make radical disciples. My husband went on staff at our church and we began inviting people into our home, pointing them to Jesus.

About two years ago, we moved from the church where my husband was on staff to another church in our community. Our new church is very involved in mission work and has two church plants in Colombia. My husband and I decided to go on a mission trip to Colombia with a group from our new church. I felt the trip could be the answer to our call to the mission field. I told my husband on the plane ride over, “You know after this trip we are going to move to Colombia and become missionaries.” He agreed. We both loved Colombia and the people of the country, but on the plane ride home when I asked my husband about it he said, “God really affirmed that Harrison County (the county where we live) is our mission field and we are already are missionaries.” I felt the same way.

Shortly after this our pastor called us and said that a ministry that serves pregnant women in crisis planned to open a location in our town. The director of the ministry had called our pastor and told him the kind of person they were looking for in a director. He told me that he thought I had the qualities that fit and asked if I was interested in the job. At the time, my husband worked as an unpaid volunteer in a mission agency and I was the breadwinner for the family. I had a good job in sales for an advertising agency. My husband and I talked about it. This would mean a $40,000 pay cut per year and we would lose benefits. At first, we felt there was no way possible. We couldn’t pay our bills on this salary. We called our pastor and he challenged us to pray: “Lord, I am taking this job. Make it clear to us if this is NOT the way. Even though we don’t see how this would work financially, we are moving forward, trusting that You will show us if this is not what we are to do.” From this time on we had peace.

I started the job in January of 2017 and from the very beginning God has provided so many opportunities to love and serve. While this job doesn’t provide the income of my corporate job, it is so fulfilling and rewarding. I have met many wonderful people.

God is faithful, even when I am not. Especially when I am not. My husband now has a paid job with the mission agency. God has not only provided financially but also has provided a strong community of support in our church. He has opened small doors for us, and as we go through He opens another. He continues to lead us. We don’t know what the future holds but we are just looking for the next step. God will be faithful. He has always been faithful.

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.

#143. Little Church by the Creek: A Billboard Message

Photo by Nicole Tarpoff 

In 1989, my future husband moved from Texas to the town in Indiana where I lived. I was working as a manager of Pizza Hut at the time and he applied for a job. I didn’t need to hire anyone but the waitresses thought he was cute so I ended up hiring him. We developed a friendship. He had hinted that he would like to date me but there was a no dating policy—so he filled out termination papers and said, “Now will you go out with me?” We went out and have never been apart since. 

We dated for a year and then decided to get married. Neither one of us were churched at that time. He had only been to church three times and I had never been to church with my family. I called a pastor of a church and felt a little bad asking to get married in their church. 

 I asked the pastor, “How do you come back to church?”

“Just walk through the doors.”

“What about this membership thing?”

“No, just walk through the doors.” 

We got married and were thrown into married life, trying to blend our lives. I had children from a previous marriage. God was not in our marriage at that point. We had never invited Him into our lives. We decided to go to a marriage counselor. I remember that on the way to an appointment with the counselor we prayed and asked for a sign if we should stay married. We were driving on the highway at the time and we passed this huge billboard that said, “Loved the wedding, now invite me to the marriage.” 


It just so happened that the marriage counselor was a Christian and he showed us the love of Jesus. He told us to go back to church, which we did immediately. We attended church regularly and got involved, volunteering with youth. There was a revival at our church and the guest pastor asked, “Do you have a fire for God?” My husband said, “I don’t even have a spark.” But God was working in the heart of my husband, and on the third night there was a transformational moment for my husband. He gave his life to the Lord that night. Two days later he went on an Emmaus walk, a weekend designed to parallel the Emmaus walk of the disciples on Easter. The combination of these two events was life changing. He was a different person after that. He had a hunger for Jesus. He became more sensitive to the needs of others, especially to my needs. He became more patient with the kids and even had a calm spirit when driving. It was like he left “the world.”

Six weeks later I went on an Emmaus walk and Jesus became real to me during this weekend. I knew Jesus was real before, but He became more than a just a story on a page. After this I felt a calling to lead our church’s youth ministry. We had volunteered some before with the youth and had been on a couple youth trips with our daughter. The youth leaders were leaving and they needed someone to step in. In the beginning it was just my call, but eventually my husband was called as well. We have prayed to go deeper in this ministry and God has been faithful to answer. When we started, it was ten minutes of teaching and 45 minutes of fellowship and games, and now we are able to spend more time teaching because the kids are interested and want to go deeper. We have been investing in teenagers’ lives this way for about 15 years. But this is not the end of the story. God had more for us. 

About four years ago, I went to a conference with a friend and saw one of my favorite worship leaders. She had been singing and praying and God’s spirit was so present. I can’t put into words how powerful I felt His presence that night. I felt God was urging me to give my life to worship. My life changed after that. I heard the call clearly from God and this built a confidence in me. I felt God calling me to lead His people into His presence through worship. I wanted people to feel Him and meet Him face to face. I now sing and lead worship for the second service at our church and my husband does all the sound work and is a drummer. We also do worship at the jail, at a drug recovery ministry, at revivals, and at festivals. Our goal as a worship team is that by the leading of the Holy Spirit, we would lead people into the presence of the Lord. I pray for God’s people to be able to feel His breath—that He would be that close. 

We have been awed by the power of God. We have seen missionaries, pastors, evangelists, and youth leaders come from the youth group. We have seen that God can use anybody to accomplish what He wants to accomplish. For so much of my life, Jesus was just a character from a storybook, but God has shown us how real He is. We have seen it and experienced it, and we want others to experience it too.

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.

#142. Little Church by the Creek: Righteous, Redeemed and Restored


​Photo by Anna Carroll

In 2007 I was arrested for possession of methamphetamine. I had been married eight years at the time and we had two children. My wife knew I had an addiction problem before my arrest. She just didn’t know it was meth. I was never home and she was ready to leave me. Before my arrest, it was a dark time in our lives and I was very lost. This little church by the creek was on the way to my drug dealer’s house and I would look at it and think, “I need God.” I would go out of my way not to see the church. God was calling me and I was saying, “NO!”

When I went to court, the guy I got arrested with came in with his parents and his pastor. I was upset with the pastor and told him I needed to talk to him. He agreed and I met him at his office. I asked the pastor why he was supporting this guy who didn’t go to church. He said, “My life was messed up before I met Jesus. I am supporting your friend because I was given a second chance and I believe your friend deserves a second chance, and I believe YOU deserve a second chance. If you will come to church and you will listen, I will walk this out with you, and if you fall, I will be there to help.” It felt like he believed in me. He gave me hope. This man was the pastor of the little church by the creek that I had passed on the way to the drug dealer’s. God had drawn me all those years before as I passed by, and now He was drawing me through the pastor. This time I said, “YES!”

I started going to church right after that talk. I sat in the back row. My wife told me that she had also driven past the church for years and she had felt drawn to the church as well. She began going to church with me. I was amazed by everything I was receiving at church. I thought, “I have to get a Bible.” I remember going into my little girl’s bedroom with my new Bible and thinking, “I know there’s something here. But this has just been a book to me. I want it to come alive.” I opened it up and turned to Acts and I couldn’t put it down. It became a light, a mirror, a hammer. I saw my sin, and things began to change in our home. Reading God’s Word changed my life. Two weeks before I was to serve my time, I committed my life to the Lord. 

In jail, I participated in a 12-step Christ-centered program led by the jail chaplain called Stepping into Freedom. When I got out of jail, I was required to go to narcotics anonymous (NA) three times a week for two years. I saw that people weren’t getting better. I felt such a need to bring Christ to them. I asked the chaplain, who led the Stepping into Freedom program at the jail, if I could take that curriculum and teach it at our church one night a week. He agreed and I told people at NA and AA about our new ministry and invited them to come. But we needed to become an “approved” program because it is a probation requirement to go to meetings at an “approved” program, and you must get your card signed to prove you have attended these sessions. There was no incentive to attend our program until we had this designation. For one year, I tried to tell the probation officers that I had started the ministry and tried to get them to approve it. Initially, they threw away my fliers, but I kept going back. Finally, they approved our program. Today, my probation office runs the substance abuse coalition and I am partnering with him in this coalition. This coalition now provides grant funding for our ministry.  

About a year after we started offering Stepping into Freedom at church, we went on a prayer walk and felt God calling us to something more. Mercy Street was born. Mercy Street is a recovery intervention/restoration ministry that provides worship, a meal, and fellowship. My wife and I are co-directors. We started small with peanut butter sandwiches and a man with an acoustic guitar leading worship. We only had about 10 people coming. Prominent people left the church because of the program, but Mercy Street grew, expanding from 15 to 30 people. I was still working full-time at my day job and I began to get exhausted. First the addiction took me away, and now the ministry was taking me away from my family. The Lord started exposing the junk my wife and I had buried. I didn’t want to deal with it but God led us through it to the other side. The leadership of the church pulled me from ministry for three months to focus on my family. I felt God leading me to dive more into His word and pray more. Our pastor taught us that God comes first, marriage second, then kids, then ministry. We renewed our marriage covenant and the Lord honored that. When I returned to ministry, other churches who had not wanted to partner with us initially, said they wanted to start a Mercy Street program. We are now starting our fifth Mercy Street ministry plant. 

God has used my past for good in other ways. I was asked to be part of a meth intercessory prayer team. We were shown a map of areas in the county where there were drug arrests and we would pray that God would begin to take authority over the ground. Because of my past experiences, I knew where the drug deals occurred and we could pray specifically for those areas. One of the biggest dope dealers in a town near here was on a particular street and a pastor invited him to Mercy Street. He then led others to Mercy Street, and now this whole street is cleaned up! God has drawn many people and we have baptized many in the creek by the church. We have felt the Holy Spirit powerfully during these baptisms.

We have also felt the Lord calling us to prevention efforts. We go into middle and high schools and show a documentary on heroin called “Hit of Hell.” We are starting a prevention program with the YMCA. When young people complete the program, the Y gives them a free membership which gives them a place to go and an outlet. We want the kids to not only reject drugs but to become leaders and lead others out of that culture. 

At times life has been very difficult. I have put my wife through so much and she has shown me undeserved grace and forgiveness. Sometimes it is difficult for her to juggle her responsibilities co-directing Mercy Street with me while working and raising our children and taking care of our home. This is made more difficult because she has MS. Words can’t express how grateful I am for her and how much I love and admire her.

God is so faithful. Our marriage was in such trouble and God faithfully walked through that with us. I have experienced God as a Restorer and Redeemer. I am right with God because of the cross, not because of anything I have done. So many times, I want to be right on my own merit. But knowing I am righteous because of Him takes the pressure off of me. This is a messy ministry. Often, I am the first responder—the person a teenager calls when they are high and contemplating suicide. I am dependent on God, relying on prayer and the Holy Spirit’s guidance. It is too difficult and complex and dangerous to figure this out on my own. So many things have happened since that day in 2007 and it’s all been the Lord. God has opened good doors and closed the doors that should be closed to protect us. He brought me through the darkness into light. He drew me to Him at the little church by the creek, and there He has done amazing things. 

For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:21

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.

#141 Little Church by the Creek: The Waterfall of God’s Love

 Photo by Anna Carroll

I grew up the youngest of six children in an abusive home with alcoholic parents. We didn’t go to church often, only when my mom and dad were sober enough. When I was 9 years old a neighbor shot a dove and it fell in our yard. We tried to nurse it back to health but it died. For the dove’s funeral, I put on my dad’s suit (he was a big, strong Army man about 6’4”). The sleeves and pants were too long and I had to pull them up. I performed the funeral for the dove with all my family there listening. My oldest sister said later, “Timmy, you are going to be a preacher.” I believe the Holy Spirit planted that seed.

But from age 9 to 33 I certainly didn’t live that life. I got married when I was a senior in college to a girl I had dated in high school. My life was dysfunctional and I was looking for validation from others. I was 24 when we divorced. After that, I lived with friends for about a year—basically I was homeless. I was working but didn’t have money. I was spending money on other things, mainly alcohol. 

About a year after my divorce, I asked a woman I knew from a newspaper where I had worked if she would consider dating someone like me and she said she would pray about it. She prayed and fasted for five days. She said yes with two conditions: 1) I will always love Someone more than you, and 2) I am a virgin now and I will be a virgin when we get married. 

We married in 1991 and I worked for Ganett, the parent company for USA Today. At age 29, Ganett offered me a job as Managing Editor and then Executive Editor. I was making really good money but working 20 hours a day. I had become a flaming workaholic. In May of 1997, I was at the worst point of my life—depressed and exhausted. I did go to church but I was not a Christian. We talked of divorce. I started making plans for suicide and attempted four times. I was trying to end my wife’s suffering because I knew I was a bad husband. 

I had decided to try again and had talked to a financial planner about how to make financial plans for my family after my death. That week my pastor asked if I would go to a Promise Keepers event. I didn’t want to go to a Jesus event but I didn’t want people to think I didn’t want to go to a good event and said yes only to put on a show. On May 10, 1997, I got into a van with seven to eight guys and sure enough, there was Jesus music playing all the way. I didn’t want to listen to it. My plan had been that two weeks from that day I would kill myself. 

We got to the stadium and there was a pastor that came out and started sharing jokes. Lousy jokes. I kept thinking, this is the biggest waste of time, and got madder and madder. Finally, he stepped back from pulpit and paused awkwardly. I have 69,999 witnesses as to what happened next. He stepped back to pulpit and said, “I apologize. I was brought here to tell jokes but I don’t feel funny. There is a guy here who if he doesn’t get his life right, will not be here in two weeks.” As I sat on the top bleacher of the old Riverfront Stadium, I couldn’t believe what I just heard. A lump formed in my throat and I started crying. The pastor started telling my story. He said this guy is a workaholic, his marriage is a mess, he has hidden addictions, and he doesn’t think God is real. He talked about it being this man’s last chance and that God was calling him right now to believe in Him. There were 70,000 people there, but he preached the service like he was speaking to one person. “What do you have to lose?” he asked. I knew he was talking to me. At some point, I got up and went all the way down to where he was preaching and knelt by the stage. I prayed, “God, I’ve screwed up. If you can do anything with this life, here I am.”

I cried the rest of the weekend and ran the stadium out of toilet paper and tissues. I surrendered that weekend and something happened. I was born again. My mind changed at that moment. I have never struggled with suicide and depression or addictions since then. I went from old to new in that moment. Everything else was just crushed by the waterfall of God’s love. On the way home, I was the loudest singer of the praise songs in the van. 

When we got home from the event, I had forgotten my house keys and had to wake my wife to let me in. When she opened the door she said, “What happened to you? Your countenance… Everything is changed.” I grabbed her hand and we prayed together. The Lord reminded me of my call to be a preacher. The next day was Sunday May 12, Mother’s Day, and we went to church. I told my wife her Mother’s Day gift was that I was leaving the newspaper job and becoming a pastor. 

I attended seminary and became an associate pastor at a large church in Indiana. Four years into this job, I was asked to become the lead pastor at a large church in Kentucky. My wife and I felt like this was the way to go. But then I received a call from church leadership. They said they would like me to consider pastoring a different church, a much smaller church, that was having some problems, but they believed that the Lord could do amazing things at this church. My wife and I went to this little church by the creek to visit. I wanted to see how the Holy Spirit led me. It was early spring the day we arrived at the church. I got out of our van and as I stood in the parking lot of the little white church, it started snowing. The sun was peeking out from behind the clouds. It was like a Currier and Ives picture—a surreal moment. I felt strongly that God was leading us to this church. 

We have been here going on 13 years. We have ten worship services and reach about 1,200 people per week. Last year we had 399 baptisms, 327 of those were first time baptisms. Since 2010, we have had 138 people called from our congregation to ministry. But it’s not me. It is what God’s done here that is amazing. I failed a class at every level of education—even in seminary, I failed evangelism. As a kid, I had a speech impediment, a horrible stutter and a real lisp. I knew what I wanted to say but couldn’t get the words out. I was in special classes even through high school. But God has used me in spite of all of this. 

I owe Jesus everything—my marriage, my kids, my life. I died with Christ and everything I have now is gain. I know that every day my life is His and I owe Him every single moment. This fuels the passion that I live life from and the passion that I preach with. I believe in the begetting principle. Hate begets hate. Love begets love. I love the people of this church and I have a high-octane level of passion that begets passion in the people. I make mistakes… But the passion for Jesus cannot be questioned. God has used me to ignite passion in this congregation. The church leadership was right all those years ago when they asked me to come here. The Lord has done amazing things at this little church by the creek. 

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.

#140 Fully Funded


Photo by Samuel McCarthy

It took a long time for me to freely feel the love of God. After being abandoned by my earthly father at the age of six, I struggled to believe that my heavenly Father could love with such sacrifice and mercy. Thus, I spent the better part of my life searching for love in a harsh, sinful world. This search led me to various places—drugs, alcohol, sex, etc.—where I would overindulge until my appetite was satisfied. By the end of my search for fulfillment, I sat empty and alone, too wounded to press onward, waiting to be rescued. My Savior and Healer lifted me out of my wreckage—where I had faced so much hurt and rejection—and led me to a place of everlasting grace and goodness. God found me in the pits of my own sin, at rock bottom, where others dare not go—and there, He held my face, wiped my tears, and promised to never forsake me.

Now this promise is what I grasp tightly amidst the raging doubts and fears of daily life. God delivered me from bondage almost four years ago, and since, I have yet to find more joy in anything this world has to offer. Thus, I dedicated the next years of my life to international ministry in hopes of proclaiming the most scandalous, outrageous truth I’ve ever heard— Jesus came to live amongst a people who would mock and reject Him, only to willingly lay down His life so these same mockers could have eternal life with the great Creator, Comforter, Healer, King, and Father.

After dedicating the next years of my life to international ministry, I found myself on the hard path of financial support-raising. Logistically speaking, I was given six months to raise $50,000 so that I could move to Australia and begin ministering to students at the University of Queensland. I began fundraising in June of 2017, and needed to be on an airplane to Brisbane—where I was to share the gospel for more than a year—by January 14, 2018. On November 6, 2017, I got an email from the team in Australia saying I needed to be at 80% fundraised by November 17th. At the time, I was at 66% fundraised—meaning I needed to raise over $6,000 in 10 days or my departure date would be pushed back by six months. I spent the rest of the day in a pit of unbelief, giving anxiety control over my conscious thought. I made phone call after phone call trying to set up meetings with donors, and contacted every prayer warrior I knew in hopes of bringing my request to the throne room of the Father. I went to sleep hesitantly that night, knowing I now had one less day to meet the deadline.

I woke the following day, Nov 7th, and spent the morning in prayer. I sat at my desk with my journal in front of me, paralyzed with fear that I had misunderstood my calling. I wondered if the loving God I had grown so fond of was asking me, like Abraham, to bring Isaac to the mount to be sacrificed—had I made ministry in Australia such an idol that I needed to hold a knife to its throat?

At noon that day, after a morning of contemplation and doubt, I decided to check my email. What I would find was the short and sweet response of a kind man I had emailed almost two weeks prior—with a message that said, “Sara, I would like to give you $5,000. God bless.” I fell to my knees, weeping. Never had I seen more tangible evidence of God’s love than in that email. My Father did not leave or forsake me. He did not reject me. He did not ask me to sacrifice the one thing I wanted. Instead, through the words of a stranger, He said, “I am for you, not against you; I am more committed to my kingdom than you could ever know; I am more committed to you than you could ever know.”

Throughout the next three days, over $8,000 was donated, bringing me to 82% fundraised by November 10th— a full week before my deadline. This work was done only through our merciful Father who wants good things for His children as well as the advancement of His kingdom. To Him I give all the glory, honor, and praise, for He is worthy now and forever.

Now, I sit typing this a week before departing for Australia. I am fully funded and the Lord has prepared and equipped me with His gospel. I am undeserving of such an honor. As you read this, please pray for the lost in Brisbane. Pray they will be open-hearted to the God who loves and protects them. Pray that God will use my weaknesses for His glory. Our God is big. He is alive. He is making a way. Darkness trembles.

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.

#139 Do It Again, God!

Photo by Abby Daughtry Photography

Several years ago I looked into my family history. I realized my personal connection to so many people, discovering some dark secrets as well. As I read the Bible again with fresh eyes, I saw that Jesus’ family history was quite colorful as well!

I then began to research the history of my church, St. Paul United Methodist Church. I picked up a history book that had been sitting on my bookshelf since 1982. With a Single Eye was written by a genealogist who attended our church. This tome documented the revival and awakening that took place in our budding city during the mid-1800s, before the Civil War, leading to the formation of many churches in the area. Reading the book piqued my interest, and I started doing more research online.

I found the local newspaper article from 1883 that recounted the “Great Revival of 1849.” The article was taken from a pastor’s speech commemorating the laying of the cornerstone of the first Methodist church organized in our community. He himself had attended the revival, explaining that prior to the revival, there were only seven professing believers in the town. He stated, “The preaching of the gospel was with no regularity, and seemed to produce no fruits.” That all changed that first Sunday in September of 1849 when two Methodist ministers began a revival, meeting every day, once in the mornings in a church in the main village nearby, and once in the evenings at the local public schoolhouse in the new city around the new railroad tracks. The first service was quite solemn and many penitent people came to the altar. The revival meetings went on for 21 straight days. The weather was beautiful and large congregations assembled daily, many coming from 20–30 miles away (remember, there were no cars!) The Holy Spirit moved powerfully, and there was weeping, confession, praying for one another, and much joy! 

One particular conversion stands out: A very respected gentleman of high character in the town, who was the chairman of the court and a successful businessman, was determined not to get carried away with all the “fanaticism” of his neighbors. He was so irritated, in fact, that in protest he went fishing at a place where everyone in the church would see him. He had no bites from the fish but many from mosquitoes! As he heard the songs coming from the church, a remarkable thing happened. He left with his heart and conscience heavy; the next day he was “at the church, a broken-hearted penitent.” This soul and many others came to know the Lord in the great revival awakening of 1849. At the end of the 21 consecutive days of preaching, 100 people had accepted Christ as their Savior. As a result, churches of different denominations were later built in the area, including the first Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, and Episcopal churches. Soon thereafter was the AME Zion church, and still later, the very first Pentecostal Holiness church in the world!

I now attend this same Methodist church that was built from this great awakening. Last summer, I committed to remembering this great revival and how the Holy Spirit moved so powerfully to awaken many souls. I committed to duplicate the same event, to pray for another revival and awakening in our community and beyond. Several others in our city, representing different churches and denominations, joined me to travail in prayer together. We met each day at sunrise and sunset at the same two sites of the original revival to pray for another great revival and awakening. This time, though, we began on the second Sunday in September, and continued for 21 consecutive days of prayer meetings. We have seen the Holy Spirit move mightily in our community again, and we are trusting that God will bring about another great awakening in His perfect time.

This has been a great revival for me personally, reviving me with a great infilling of the Holy Spirit. On the very last night, glad to be finished, the Lord gave me three dreams in a row, telling me to continue! And so we are, praying still for a great revival and awakening, joining the church all over the world praying for a great awakening, sowing seeds of prayers to blow in the Holy Spirit’s four winds to carry them as He wills…carrying the hope to all the hearts He wants to reach—knock, knock, knocking and waiting for doors to open, so that they will receive the gifts of grace, mercy, forgiveness, and healing, repenting and turning resolutely to follow Jesus. Then the world will know His love, the only true love there is…that there is only one true way to live life, abundantly now and forevermore…for he is the LORD God Almighty, the One who gives life and blessings. No matter how dark the darkness is we may face, no matter our sins and shortcomings, no matter what will come, He is YHWH, holy, holy, holy, who is and was and always will be. Our God! Abba Father God, the Name above all names, we love you, praise you, need you…whatever it takes, Lord, use us to carry out Your will today and every day, until that day comes when we, Your chosen children, will all be together as Your family in heaven, forever. Amen. So be it, thy will!

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.

#138 Softening My Heart

Photo by Killian Rose

On July 25, 2015 I was sitting on a motorcycle at a stoplight when a Dodge pickup truck driven by a drunk driver hit me from behind going 45 miles per hour. I was crushed between the truck and the car in front of me. My pelvis was shattered, my colon torn in half, my liver lacerated, ribs broken, arm broken, lung punctured, and the carotid artery in my neck nearly severed. I woke up under the pickup truck in so much pain, thinking, I have to get out from under this truck. I prayed, “God help me!” I was flown by helicopter to the university hospital. The paramedics kept saying, “Stay with us, stay with us,” which made me think I was dying.

When I came out of surgery, the doctors told me that I wouldn’t be able to have kids, I couldn’t go back to college for at least two years (I was 19 years old), and I would need to go to a rehabilitation hospital for a year to learn to walk again.

On my ninth day in the hospital I was able to move from my bed to a chair. I was released to my home, not a rehabilitation hospital, but I was still healing from multiple broken bones and was not able to bear weight on my legs. I had to have help brushing my teeth, getting a shower, shaving my legs, and going to the bathroom. My mom died when I was 14 and at the time of the accident my father was a single parent. He was happy to help me with all of the personal care I needed but I hated that he had to do all of those things for me. It was very humbling.

In October, I went back to doctor and found out that my bones were healing more quickly than expected. The doctor prescribed physical therapy and by the end of four weeks of physical therapy, I was able to walk with no severe limp. So instead of one year of inpatient therapy in a rehabilitation facility, I was able to walk with one month of outpatient therapy. In fact, this fall I hiked eight miles on a nearby mountain trail. I am so thankful to God for the remarkable healing! I was also able to go back to college in one semester instead of staying out two years.

After the accident, I experienced more than just physical healing. My mom’s death had been unexpected, a complication from a surgery. We had been so close and it was very hard for me to lose her. My dad is the pastor at our church and my mom had been the worship leader. She was also a teacher at my school. I missed her everywhere—at school, at home, at church. I felt like I couldn’t even go to my pastor for help because it was my dad and he was grieving too.

Years after my mom’s death, my dad got engaged to a woman, but I wasn’t nice to her and didn’t accept her. Accepting her meant I had to let go of my mom and I couldn’t do that. I missed her so much.

I hardened myself to protect myself from the hurt. I had closed off myself against relationships. Before the accident, I didn’t love myself and I didn’t think anyone else loved me—not even God. After the accident, so many people took care of me. There was an overwhelming sense of love and support of people rallying around me. I realized how many people loved me and that God had never stopped loving me. And despite how I had treated my dad’s fiancé, she showed me love and grace and took good care of me. I now see that my anger and bitterness had been hindering my dad and younger brother too from fully healing. Now our home is a place of real peace and it is a life-giving place to be.

Through this experience, God has softened my heart to receive and give love to others. I had internalized so much anger and hurt that it festered into external thorns. I tried to hide it and act okay, but I was hurting people. I didn’t want to accept that I hadn’t fully grieved. I had to realize the internal hurt. It was like a coffee cup with a hole in the bottom—I got all filled up on Sunday at church, but it would quickly drain out and there was no complete deliverance from my pain. I had to acknowledge the hole so that God could heal the hole and I could experience complete healing. And this is what has occurred. God is making a beautiful picture from the broken pieces.

The person driving the truck was a 20-year-old female driving on a suspended license, two times over the legal alcohol limit. Nearly a month after the accident, I was contacted by the commonwealth attorney about pressing charges. He recommended a 20-year prison sentence with the possibility of parole in 17 years. I told him I wanted to pray about what to do. I talked to my dad and the chaplain at my college. I was being asked to make this decision at 20 years of age. I wondered how I could send someone to jail for 20 years. And what if she had kids? I knew what it was like to lose a mom. I didn’t want to take a mom away from her children. But I also didn’t want her to go back on the road and harm someone else.

My chaplain talked to me about restorative justice, which is a model where the offender knows what has happened to the offended and they plan what is best for the recovering offender so that they don’t offend again. I met with the commonwealth attorney and asked about restorative justice, but he said there was nothing like that in our state. Regardless, I didn’t want her to serve a 20-year prison sentence. Instead, she was sentenced to five years of probation with six months in jail and another six months in rehabilitation and 100 hours of community service. Her conditions included random drug screening and sobriety tests and maintaining a full-time job. The attorney was shocked that I didn’t want her to be punished more severely. He said with her alcohol level and the extent of my injuries, he was surprised that he wasn’t working with the surviving family in a homicide case.

Fast forward a year, and I got a text from my dad that the woman had been called in for her random drug screening and she drove to the courthouse with a suspended license and drugs in her system. Since she violated her conditions, she would have to go to jail for 20 years. I had gotten a lot of compliments from people about the grace I had shown her and I told them it was God impressing upon me to do this. But when she violated her conditions, I got so angry with her and thought she spat on my grace. And then I realized we do this with God—we spit on His grace. I have done this. It was humbling to realize this and it helped me to be less angry and more compassionate.

Even though I still suffer physical pain and limitations, God has brought good from the accident. Because I lost my mother, I have been able to comfort other young people who have lost a parent from a place of really knowing how difficult it is. I have personally experienced great physical healing, but the greatest healing has been the spiritual restoration of self-worth that is not based on me following handed-down religious traditions, but instead is based on God’s grace. I am confident that there is nothing I can do to undo His love for me. 

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.