#151 Little Church by the Creek


Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

In 1997, my sister was taken to the hospital because of a problem with her foot from diabetes. I had been to

visit her and for some reason that night when I came out of her room I decided to go to the bathroom before getting on the elevator. When I got out of bathroom and got on elevator to go home, a woman on the elevator with me was very upset. She told me her husband was very sick and she felt very alone. We got off the elevator and walked out to the parking lot together.

I am a caring person, but to ask a complete stranger if I could pray with her in a hospital parking lot … this was out of my comfort zone. But I felt God calling me to do this, so I asked if I could pray for her. I felt that God told me, “You have got to be Me to this person.” I vividly remember standing in the hospital parking lot at dusk, huddled with her in prayer, snow coming down around us.

I prayed for a sense of peace for her and healing and comfort for her husband. God has given me many opportunities in the past to do something similar, but this is the first time I said yes and I’m so glad I had the courage to do it. It only took a few minutes to share His love with someone else. I felt so blessed that God had given the woman a sense of peace and comfort and that I had a part in that.

I have learned to always be available for God to work through me and that when I do, God will show up and show me what to do. God is faithful. He will equip you. He equipped me and gave me the words to say to the woman in the hospital parking lot. I had that ability before that encounter but was afraid or embarrassed to do anything. But when I obeyed what I felt God calling me to do, He equipped me with the words to pray. Since that time, I have felt God urging me to pray for people and I now respond to those promptings. 

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.

#150 Little Church by the Creek

 Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

I was born and grew up on a little island off the coast of Virginia. Chincoteague is seven miles long and three miles wide. My parents did not go to church when we lived on the island but I went with my aunt and was saved at Vacation Bible School when I was nine years old. When I was about 14 my mom and dad got saved and their lives were radically transformed.  When I was 15 we moved to Norfolk and attended a Baptist church. There I met my husband, a sailor.  We were married for 48 years and have three children. 

I can remember as a young woman attending youth mission meetings. I felt a call to ministry when I attended these meetings, but knew a poor girl like me could never afford to go to school and get the training needed for ministry. Despite this, I have looked for ways to let God use me and feel that He has in many ways.

My husband wanted to move to his hometown in Indiana. I didn’t want to go but we went and God provided opportunities for me to serve as I had asked. I worked at a mission for eight or nine years.  I went in as the secretary. I was good at working with the people so I became the head of the social work department. Others at the mission were working mainly with homeless men and I wasn’t really comfortable with men. I remember asking God to give me a ministry with a woman. Again, God was faithful and gave me a woman to minister to. Each time she came to the mission, she brought her bags, dragging things behind her. I told her she could leave her bags in my office while she spent the night in the mission. She had some mental health issues and was living on the streets. The more she trusted me, the more I could help her. I hired her to help with serving the donuts we served in the morning and to help clean up after. This provided a little income for her, about $10 per week. After this we were able to get her in an apartment in low income housing where her rent was $12 per month based on the $10 per week she was earning. I took her to the Social Security office to get her benefits.  Her kids, who still lived in Israel, contacted Social Security asking for information about their mother. They wanted to find her and help her. The Social Security office gave them my contact information because they knew I was helping their mother. Her children contacted me and sent me things to give her. Eventually they were able to talk to her. God allowed me to be a part of this, to help her find a home and also to have a role in connecting her children to her. This was a blessing to me.

After this I became the secretary in our church. In this role, God has allowed me to be a facilitator for ministry and help it to run more smoothly. 

My husband died in 2010. We had a good marriage and his death was so hard for me. After he died I remembered what he had told me when we experienced difficult circumstances, “Get up, get busy and do something!” I felt like after he died he was saying the same thing to me. So, I started a “Single Again” ministry for singles which is largely widows. The community God has provided in this group has been very healing, not only for me but for other women. 

God is consistent and He has provided in so many ways.  He answered my prayer to be used by Him in wonderful and diverse ways. He provided a wonderful husband and children and a church community of support and love. God provided financially. We had a farm and my husband had kept it so nice. I just couldn’t keep it up after he died. So, I had to sell it. God provided someone to buy our farm and they could pay cash. It was listed for $160,000 and they paid $182,500. This was more than what I paid for the house I was going to move to so I have no payments now. And my new house was big enough for my brother to move in with me which has been a blessing to both of us.

Life has not always been easy but God has been faithful and I am so thankful.

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.

#149 Little Church by the Creek

Photo by Nicole Tarpoff 

God blessed me with a good foundation. I grew up in the church. My grandmother lived with us and we shared a bedroom. She knelt by her bed every night and prayed in a whisper. I could hear her as she prayed for the less fortunate and missionaries. I heard her pray in her prayer language. It was such a blessing, a real learning experience that I didn’t realize I was getting at the time. Mamaw would always help in any way she could. She stayed in the background but taught us how to help and what to do and how to do it. She was not only an example in prayer but also an example in her life. She never preached but her life preached.  

Growing up we went to church every Sunday. I gave my life to Christ at a holiness camp meeting when I was seven years old. Our family attended a very evangelistic church. I remember during church Mamaw waving her hanky and praying with tears streaming down her face. I would say, “Mamaw,” and tap her on the hand and she would say, “Shhh, you will break the Spirit.” 

God taught me many lessons through my grandmother—to be a servant without words. All those years ago in church, she cautioned me not to break the Spirit, and indeed God showed me the fruits of His Spirit working in her life. She was a woman of patience, kindness, and gentleness. She showed love to many people and showed remarkable peace and faith when she faced hardships. When her husband died, she had a graceful, calming presence in that storm. God also showed me the importance of perseverance and faithfulness through her life. If you continue your walk, your faith grows and God gives you the ability to serve in humility. 

Music is in our family. My mom was a singer and sang at almost every funeral, wedding, and revival in our county. My grandmother and I often attended. I am now the worship leader at our church for the first service. I play piano, lead the choir, and pick out the songs. Both of my daughters sing in the choir. I try to impress upon the choir that we aren’t just singing. I encourage them to see what the song means and to convey that message to the people in the congregation and bring them to a place of worshipping God. My favorite hymn is “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” as I think that is the original praise and worship song.

I have experienced God’s faithfulness throughout my life. One particular time comes to mind. I had been working with a ministry and I would hear women give such emotionally gripping testimonies. I thought, “Oh Lord, please don’t make me do that.” But I was asked to give my testimony. I was scared to death. It was last minute—another speaker quit just before and they asked me to share. I turned it over to God and He was faithful. I can’t tell you what I said but He gave me the words. This and many other occasions have shown me that God is always faithful. 

I am thankful for my family, especially for my grandmother who was such an example and inspiration to me. I am thankful for the church of my childhood and the church I now attend, for the fellowship and encouragement of believers and for the opportunity to serve Him through music. God has been good to me and I am so grateful. 

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.

#148 Little Church by the Creek


I grew up in a divorced family and lived primarily with my mom. Although my mom kept us in church growing up, my dad was agnostic and not a believer. I was exposed to pornography early in life and this led me down a bad path, taking more of a hold when I was in high school and college. It was then that I believe it became an addiction. I met my wife my last year of college. At the time, I had so much guilt and shame about my addiction. I was the perfect Christian kid on the outside but was dying on the inside. In a way, I had abandoned my faith and what I believed, even though this is not what I wanted.

God broke through to me through the church my wife and I attended. I was invited to go to a Promise Keepers event with some men from the church. It was there that God broke through my hard heart, and the journey back to Him began. My wife had known there were some issues but she didn’t know everything. I knew I needed to have the hard talk with her. After this conversation, I got connected with a sex addiction program at the church. I attended for three years but couldn’t find consistent sobriety.

What finally broke the addiction for me was a 15-week class called Perspectives. This class wasn’t about addictions. Instead it was about missions, about God’s perspective on the world and what our mindset should be toward ministry. At the end of the class, I feared that my whole life I had been holding back from completely surrendering to God. I had been afraid that if I fully surrendered to God, He would call us away to “Far-away-astan” and this had held me back. By the end of the class I was willing to surrender and go wherever He wanted me to go. I had gained such a heart for the lost. It was at this point that the addiction went away.

Now, years later, I am convinced that anything we surrender pales in comparison to what we get of God and from God. Jim Eliot said it well.

“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
― Jim Elliot

When I think back on my story and what I have learned about the nature of God, it would have to be that He is so gracious. Knowing that I grew up in the church and walked away, but He continued to pursue me and pour out grace until He brought me back. And I am so thankful that He did.

This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”                                   

Isaiah 30:15

Out of the fullness of his grace he has blessed us all, giving us one blessing after another.
John 1:16

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.

#147 Little Church by the Creek


Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

Several years ago, a lady spoke in our church about a project to help orphans in Russia. She talked about the opportunity to go to Russia to visit the orphanages and help. My husband and I had never been on a mission trip. We both clearly felt the Lord calling us to go to Russia, which is interesting because I am really not that fond of working with kids! It was December and the trip was in May. The cost was $3,000 per person, so we needed $6,000 for the two of us to go. We were struggling financially and were in a lot of debt at the time. In fact, just ten days before we heard about the Russian trip, we had filed for bankruptcy. We didn’t have a dime and thought, “How do we do this?” But we felt called us to go so we moved forward and applied for passports, trusting God to provide everything we needed.

In March, we attended a meeting with people from different states who were also planning to go on the trip. All donations toward our trip had to go to the organization, so before this meeting we didn’t know how much had been donated toward our trip. I felt going into the meeting that the amount was $740. When we found out at the meeting that the amount donated toward our trip was $740, I was so happy I jumped up and down. Even though this wasn’t close to what we needed, it was confirmation and we were more confident about our call to go. 

The day the money was due we found out only half the money we needed had been donated. We didn’t understand. I called a friend who was the pastor in another town (at the little church by the creek) and told him we didn’t have enough money to go but that the organization had given us ten more days. He asked who else we could ask to donate. Our regular pastor really hadn’t been that supportive of our going on the trip and I didn’t understand it because it was through his church that we learned of the opportunity to go. Our pastor friend at the other church asked if we could talk to our pastor about it. But I didn’t want to do that. I just kept asking other people for donations. I felt God calling me to talk our pastor and during church I felt God telling me that I was harboring bitterness toward the pastor and that I should ask for forgiveness. The message that day was from Philemon and was all about forgiveness. During communion there were different stations set up and the pastor stood up front. I walked up to him and said, “I need to confess. We don’t have all our money for the mission trip and I have kind of held it against you.” He said, “You jumped the gun. We are getting ready to bring out the bucket of love.” At the end of the service we had all the money we needed for our trip. Had I chosen to stay hurt and not gone to him and asked for forgiveness, I don’t believe God would have provided the money. 

My husband and I went on the mission trip. I now have a real heart for missions and have been on multiple mission trips since then. But I believe the first mission trip experience wasn’t about the mission itself. Instead it was for me to see God in a new way and to see myself as a forgiven person. I am finally able to trust God completely and no longer be led by fear.

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.

Jeremiah 33:3

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

#146 Little Church by the Creek

Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

When my husband and I were in the hospital getting ready to have our first baby, I was in labor but it was in the beginning and not intense yet. For some unexplainable reason my husband and I began laughing uncontrollably. This went on for a long time. The nurses even came in as my electrodes began popping off of my stomach. They asked many times, “What is going on?” We could not stop laughing and could not tell them anything. We were both in tears from laughing so long and so hard. Now, looking back on this, it had to be the Holy Spirit filling us with unexplainable joy.

Fast forward 23 years, and our son that was born that day is in the battle of his life struggling with heroin addiction. It started four years ago. Since then my husband and I have struggled from day to day with knowing what to do, how to help him. Often the situation has seemed hopeless. He would go to rehab treatment, transformation homes, get better, come home, and then relapse. We have found that there is only one answer. We have to depend on God, to pray each day, multiple times a day, to put everything in God’s hands. Through prayer, God has given us guidance about what to do next for our son.

I remember one particular day I felt God leading me to take our son to a church to participate in a men’s group. I even took off work to do it. He didn’t want to go but eventually said he would go but not in the car with me. He followed me there in his car. I thought he would ditch me on the way and was surprised when he actually followed me all the way to the church. When we arrived at the church, he didn’t want to get out of the car. It was time for the meeting to start and the other men were arriving. I told him he needed to get out of car but he didn’t move. Eventually he got out of his car but wasn’t ready to go inside. Just when I thought for sure he was going to jump back in his car and leave, the men who were getting out of their cars noticed him and came to him on either side and guided him into the church. I was going to leave but felt the Lord prompting me not to. I tried to leave several times but the Holy Spirit kept me there walking and pacing.

After approximately two to three hours, the men started trickling out of the church. Then I could see our son from a distance. He looked like a ghost. Glowing, he came to me and said, “I am overwhelmed and that was a lot to take in.” I could tell he had been crying. I hugged him, told him I loved him, and off he went with the guys from the church to begin a recovery journey with them by his side. I cried uncontrollably after he left. One of the church leaders came out and chased me down before I left and told me that our son surrendered everything that night and that he was going to be okay. Then I understood why God had prompted me to stay. It was so I could see this and hear this news. I cried loud and hard all the way home. I even kept driving past our house because I couldn’t stop crying. That night was the beginning of our son’s journey to recovery. It was also the beginning of me wanting a closer relationship with God. I discussed with my husband about getting into and belonging to a church and for our family to dig deeper, to learn and grow. He finally agreed. We went to several churches, finding the little church by the creek and making it our church home.

But there were many bumps in the road. Our son overdosed a few months ago. It was a terrifying experience for him and for us and our family and friends. We stood at his bedside as the doctor told us a few things were damaged (his hearing, his left side, etc…).  But miraculously he recovered completely. Something changed in him after this experience. He has been drug free since then and we believe he is truly seeking after Jesus. He gave up his previous “friends/community” who were into drugs, and alcohol and now the members of our church are becoming his new community. He has new family and mentors who support and encourage him. He meets with our pastor and some of our church leaders in hopes of learning to become a leader himself. Our pastor believes that our son is called to be in young adult/teenage ministry and/or possibly become a pastor and that he will change the lives of many people through his testimony and ministry. We have kept our faith and will continue to put our faith and trust in our Savior.

God gave us the precious life of our son 23 years ago and He has continually guided us as to the best ways to help him. God has not given up on our son. He miraculously saved his life from the overdose and has protected him from harm again and again. God is working in powerful ways in the life of our son, drawing him to Jesus. His life is transforming before our eyes and we believe that God will use his pain and his past to do great things in His kingdom.

He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 

Philippians 1:6

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

#145 Little Church by the Creek

Photo by Trevor Rapp

I grew up in a house where my mom was a believer but my dad not so much. There wasn’t much exposure to church or religion. I got married when I was 20 years old to my high school sweetheart. I was immature and apparently not really ready to be married. We had some rough times the first year of our marriage. We decided to separate. I stayed in our trailer and my wife moved out.

During this time, my brother and I played in a band around town and in bars. I did a lot of partying and drinking. This went on for three months. One night I sat on the edge of my bed and said in my head, “Why did I ever get married? This is the life that I want.” I woke up about four hours later, my eyes wide open and said, “What in the heck am I doing?  I’m screwing up my marriage, and I’m screwing up my life.” I called my wife and said, “What are you doing?”

She said, “I’m up. I’m at the apartment. Come up and see me.” I went to see her and when she opened the door we both started crying and hugged. I didn’t know it that night, but her dad had her scheduled the next day to file divorce papers. To me, this was God telling me that what I was doing was stupid, that it needed to stop, and that there was much in the future for my wife and me.  

That was my first brush with God. I was thinking the exact opposite four hours earlier. It wasn’t me that woke me up to transform the way I thought. It had to be God. There is no other explanation. That got the ball rolling for me to really believe in God. I feel like when God decides to work in you—He WILL do it. For me to change that much that quickly…it was like being hit by a truck, but that’s what it took—something really dramatic to change the way I was thinking.
The life I lived those three months is one of my greatest regrets. My wife has forgiven me but I hate that I hurt her. We have been married over 20 years and have a very strong marriage now. When I talk about it with my friends, I tell them I didn’t think enough of our marriage covenant.  It was like I was dating my wife. I didn’t see it as a covenant with God. But I do now and the experience has actually strengthened our marriage, showing us that with God’s help we can overcome anything. God has used it for good.
God wants us to know that even in our darkest times He is still there. He was speaking to me on the edge of that bed even when I wasn’t a believer. He speaks to all of us if we are only ready to listen. He changed the way I thought in the snap of a finger. It was a powerful moment for me and the beginning of my journey as a Christian. At first it was a slow incline, but the last few years it has shot up like a rocket. Once I started putting God first, everything started falling into place.
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.