#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.

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