#172 Marketplace to Ministry

 Photo by Brianna Rapp

For many years I held an executive position in a major technology corporation in the United States. In my mid-forties I began to feel uncomfortable, sensing that there was something more important than working in the corporate world. I asked myself, “Why am I spending so much time building the kingdom of this company, when I could be spending time building the kingdom of God?”

About this time, our church wanted to plant a new church. A friend and I were asked to lead the church plant with our families. Four other families joined, and in 1994 we began the new church. I shared the pastoring with one other fellow for two years as a lay pastor. Our growth was explosive. We first started meeting in a conference room and outgrew that space; we moved to a junior high school and outgrew that space as well. In 1996 we were meeting in one of the largest high school auditoriums with about 250 parishioners. However, in a completely unexpected move, the administration told us one day that they would soon start renovations on the auditorium, and so we had to leave within four weeks. 

Faced with no place to meet, we contacted other big high schools in the area multiple times. Each time all of them told us their policy was to not allow any organization to use their facility. Our situation became desperate. We needed God to provide and God did.

The pastor of our church was in a prayer meeting with several other men and he explained our situation. An ex-NFL football player was among those at the prayer meeting and he asked if his high school alma mater—one of the schools who had refused us multiple times—had been asked to help. The pastor told him that the high school had been asked by our church several times and the answer was always no. 

Hearing this, the ex-NFL player decided he would ask his alma mater high school for us. To our surprise (but not God’s) they agreed! Not only were we allowed to use the auditorium, which held 600, but we also were allowed to use all the classrooms for our children’s programs.

I am so grateful to God for many things: for the corporate job that provided so well for my family for many years, for the call out of this job into ministry, for the many people that God brought into the church, for the lives that were transformed by the planting of the new church, and for providing a connection that led to a place for our church to meet. 

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.

#122. Loving The Unloved

Photo by Trevor Rapp

My wife and I met in college through involvement in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. After we married, we became very involved in our church. I taught Sunday school for years and served on different committees. But we began to feel a real need to do ministry outside of the church walls. We started reading the gospels to learn more about how Jesus did His ministry. We saw that He was involved in church—but He also went out and ministered to those not loved by society. Our prayer was, “Help us to see the world as You see it and live in it as You lived in it.” 

We began volunteering once a week at Room in the Inn, a seasonal ministry of local churches that welcomes homeless men during the cold winter months, providing hot meals and a warm, safe place to sleep. We did this all winter and grew to know and love many of the men. At the end of the cold season, I asked the leader, “What do we do now?” The response was to come back next November. But we didn’t want to wait. How could we keep connected to our friends through the spring and summer? I found out that homeless men in our community gathered at McDonald’s downtown. I began stopping in the mornings to have coffee and hang out with the guys. Usually one or two of the fellows that I had met from Room in the Inn were there, so that made it easier.

One day I was working on the deck at our home and thought maybe a couple of the guys would enjoy helping to build our deck. They did, and before long they were helping in other ways at our house. They became a part of our lives. Our daughter played soccer and they went to the games with us. We opened up our family to them because most had lost their families. We had a small birthday party for one of our friends and bought him a gift and a cake. When we brought out the cake he said it had been 14 years since anyone had even said happy birthday to him. Something so simple brought him so much joy. We started thinking about all that we had and what we could share. We had a washer and dryer that we shared so our friends could wash their clothes at our home. We had a phone they could use, a computer, a garage where they could store things, and a couch for when they weren’t feeling well. 

Around this time, we also started a home group that met in our home twice a month for a meal together, and Bible study with prayer and communion. We did this at first with other members from our church. After one or two gatherings, we began to invite our homeless and marginalized friends. Every other week on Friday night we began to have a group of about 10-12 people, half were usually homeless and half were “homed.”

One day my neighbor pulled me aside and said, “I’m not sure you know how uncomfortable the neighbors are with what you are doing – having all these homeless men in your home.” A few days later, I received a letter from the city saying that I needed to cease and desist having a “church” in our home. That same week we learned that another neighbor had hired an attorney in preparation for a suit against our family to force us to abandon our work with the homeless. We thought, “What are we going to do now?” We loved our house and neighborhood. We prayed about it and thought we could fight it and go to court, but even if we won, the relationships with our neighbors would still be fractured. We had been praying and thinking about ways to simplify—so we decided to leave the neighborhood. We informed the neighbors we were leaving, and we decided to buy a smaller, less expensive home to get completely out of debt. We bought a home not far away but on a busier street where our homeless friends would be less conspicuous. Our new neighborhood was more impersonal than our previous neighborhood. Now several years later, our new neighbors know we “help people” but beyond that there have been no questions or complaints. And the financial freedom we have discovered after moving to this house has been one of the most liberating things we have ever done.

We created a ministry which provides bus passes, clothing, sleeping bags, and tents. We also wanted to give the fellows the opportunity to give back, and they wanted to do that. We began a woodworking night in our basement one night a week. The money made from selling the items we create goes back into the ministry to help others who are marginalized or homeless. I love woodworking and making conversation. My wife loves opening our home and serving others. Hospitality gives her so much joy. God uses both of us to love and serve our friends.

At first, we wanted to change our new friends. We wanted to get them housed and help them find employment.  Over the years, we realized that God doesn’t call us to change people. He calls us only to love them and communicate His love to them. Striving to change our friends was not really loving them. So, we accepted our friends where they were, knowing that in the end, they may not change a whole lot. We realized this must be the way God loves us in our constant struggles with our own sin. God is patient. He doesn’t give up on us. He is waiting for us to open ourselves to Him and confess our need for Him. God doesn’t reject us when we fail.

God has transformed our hearts. I was a faculty member at a big university and led research there. But God was calling us to a different life. I no longer work for the university. I now work fewer hours and make less money. This has not been an easy process. I have lowered my expectations of myself in relation to my career and now spend more time with my family and serving others. God has returned much more to us than we have given up. We are very grateful for the change. Now when I drive past a big beautiful home or a nice car, I don’t long to have those things. We are content—more than content. Through this process, God has brought us a new freedom, new relationships, and much joy and love.

God has also changed my attitude toward those who are different from me. Before, I was judgmental. I thought, “Why don’t they just get a job?” I didn’t understand. Before, when I drove past a guy pushing a grocery cart, I would not have thought of that guy as a Christian—but now I know many of those guys! And many are Christians—and have wonderful relationships with the Lord. Their problems are just very visible. My problems, though less visible, are no less real. Jesus has opened my eyes and my heart and I am so grateful.

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ — Matthew 25:40

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.

#108 Undeserved Grace

 

Photo by Lucas Wiman Photography

I was raised in a middle class, church-going family. My dad was a deacon at the church and we were in church three times a week. I was very involved in youth group and loved going to church. I was very involved in sports in high school and lived a clean life. I didn’t get in trouble. When I was 16 a friend offered me a prescription pain pill. I was scared to break the rules—I had never even drank. But for some reason, I took the drug and for the next five years, that was my life. All it took was one time. I went from using every weekend, to every day, to eventually injecting drugs. 

I had made my confession of faith at 10 years old in the church, but from 16–21 I decided God was not for me. I wanted to do my own thing. I was reckless and carefree. When I got to college things got worse. My life was out of control. I was stealing and selling drugs to support my habit. I had no morality. I was obsessed with filling myself with whatever I wanted, not thinking about the consequences. 

My family knew something was wrong but they had no idea it was drugs. They encouraged me to move in with my aunt in another town, and I did. Everyone thought I was still going to college, but every day I was driving to another town to get drugs. One day when I was on the highway, my radio had no reception so I turned it to the AM radio and hit “scan.” It stopped on a gospel station with a man giving a sermon. He said, “If you are addicted to prescription pain pills, there is a way out. It’s Jesus.” It felt like he was right in front of me slamming his fist down and saying “Stop right now!” I kept driving and several miles later a police pulled me over. I had been going 100 mph. I didn’t have drugs with me but I had a suspended license for two previous tickets for not wearing a seat belt. Because I was driving (and speeding!) on a suspended license, I was arrested and thrown in jail. I called my sister and lied about what happened. She got me out of jail. My court date was the next day and they told me NOT to miss it or I would be arrested. I had no intention of making the court date. I got my car and went back on my way to buy the drugs, except this time I decided I would buy a LOT of drugs because it was my birthday weekend. I bought $500–$600 worth of oxycodone and oxycotin. The next day I was going to meet a friend to do drugs and I was stopped at a traffic light. I hit the car in front of me so hard that my roof buckled. A little old lady got out of the car and came back to see if I was okay. I had drugs in my car and knew that if the police came this would be very bad, so I told her we needed to get out of the traffic and to pull into the bank parking lot across the street. She did and I drove right onto the interstate, leaving her there. 

Two days later my mom called and said the insurance company had called her and said I was in a hit and run. I lied to her and told her I was in school. But I knew I was caught. I decided to drive out of state, but as I was driving something in me said, “Turn around. You have to face this.” I drove to the hospital where my aunt worked as a physician’s assistant. She was getting ready to go into surgery but she came out. I said, “I’m a severe drug addict and I’m in a whole lot of trouble.” She said, “Obey the traffic laws and go to my house and wait until someone comes to get you.” 

My mom and dad were so faithful in their prayers for me and their love for me. Two days before I was arrested, my mom had gotten down on her face to pray for me. She asked God to reveal whatever I was doing, to have it come into the open. Two days later I was arrested. Shortly after, I confessed.

My family got me into a hospital where I went through medical detox for six days. After this, I went to a Christian rehab facility. Here I got my relationship back with Christ. Many older homeless men in the rehab center took me under their wing and told me I could overcome it. The first time I was allowed to call home, I found out one of the friends I did drugs with killed himself, the guy who introduced me to drugs when I was 16 had overdosed and had to be brought to life, and then this….

The woman I rear-ended and then tricked and abandoned was a preacher’s wife, and she didn’t want to press charges. Her forgiveness and compassion for me…it was so undeserved, so unexpected. I get emotional even now thinking of it. 

When I think of all the things that happened, I know they could not have been coincidences. God was in it all… saving me. 

I graduated the rehab program in nine months and then felt God call me to ministry. But I didn’t want to do it. I got a job at an electronics store and someone there offered me a pain pill. I took it and got back into using drugs, but only for a short time. I did what I had learned in rehab…I called my mom and dad and told them and they took me into their home so I could detox. I haven’t used drugs since then and that was eight years ago. 

I still felt the call to go into the ministry but I still didn’t want to do it. I wasn’t willing to give up my lifestyle. I was being selfish. I fought this calling for several years and then called my preacher and told him about it. He prayed with me and said, “If God is calling you to go into ministry, then you have to do it.”

Shortly after this meeting, my mom texted me, telling me about an opportunity to volunteer in a Christian homeless shelter. I was working at Cracker Barrel but began volunteering at the shelter once a week. When I began volunteering, the executive director of the shelter was a Harvard educated, Christ-centered man who became a great mentor to me. After a couple of months, he asked me to join the shelter as a full-time employee, and I agreed. For three years, he taught me communication skills, how to manage resources, how to deal with conflict, and many other skills. In 2015 I took over the Executive Director position.

I met my wife at the shelter. She was a nursing student and was assigned to do her clinical course work at the shelter. My wife has a strong faith. She inspires me and challenges me in my relationship with Christ every day. I was on the right path but she helps me be stronger. We now have a small farm together. 

How could I have ever gone from where I was to this?! Only God! God is loving and loves in a way that is beyond our comprehension. God knows everything I did—the worst of it—things no one else knows…but I am blameless before Him because of Christ. God has so much grace. Even though I resisted, God brought me into the ministry. Working at the shelter, I get to tell people who feel hopeless about true hope in Christ. I get to tell them about the peace and joy that God promises, the peace and joy that I experience that comes from my relationship with Jesus. Jesus died to redeem me and transform me; He has done this and He is doing this still today. He saved and transformed me and He can do this for others 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.

#95 Abundant Grace

 

Photo by Ashley Brown, Shining Light Photography

I grew up in a white-collar home with two loving parents, but we weren’t what you would call a “Christian” family. We began attending church when I was a pre-teen, but it was just a Sunday thing—nothing more. I was a good student and a well-behaved kid, so everyone was surprised when I eloped with my older boyfriend at age 16. It was rocky from the start—as any teenage marriage would be. He wasn’t faithful, and over the two-year period we were married, he left many times. By the age of 19, I was a single mom, working two jobs to make ends meet and staring at a stack of unpaid bills. 

One night, I went to a club with some friends to hear a local band. This particular club had girls dancing from 5–9 p.m., before the band came on. One of them struck up a conversation and, by the end of the night, she had convinced me to come back and audition for a job. I worked in the “adult entertainment” industry in two different clubs for a couple of years. There was nothing glamorous or positive about it. I felt degraded, abused and alone; and had to get high to even face getting on stage.

After two years of what felt like hell on earth, I applied for a grant to go to beauty school. I was one of the lucky ones—it’s very hard to get out of the industry once you’ve stepped into it. I worked my way through school and the day I graduated, I left the clubs for good. I worked in a local salon for several years, then married and attended UK. Later work experience included advertising, public relations, community development, and outreach at a local church. A true hodge-podge of jobs, but now it’s amazing to look back and see how God used all those different work experiences to prepare me for what I’m doing now.

In 2000, I had a conversation with my daughter and a friend about reaching out to women in the “adult entertainment” clubs. We brainstormed with my son, who was a bouncer in one of the clubs, for ideas on what would be the best way to help the ladies. He wasn’t a Christian, but he truly appreciated the “good things” he saw our church doing—mission work and outreach to special needs families. He said, “Bring food. Nobody eats well here—they always eat fast food.” None of us knew how to cook, so we asked our friends and soon we had a team of women providing food, and a few good friends with a heart to go into the clubs with us.

Weekly visits to the clubs allow us to develop true relationships. We are very respectful to everyone—providing love, food, and other resources, without judgment, to all of our new friends. When people ask us, “Why are you bringing food to us?” we let them know that God loves us and we love them, and just want to help. Women respond because they know we care. 

In 2011, we felt God calling us to do more, so we began praying, and we prayed for a solid year. January 1, 2012, one of the women we’d served in the clubs was murdered. She’d moved from the clubs to online escorting and street prostitution. The phone call about her death solidified our next step. We met with the police to see how we could best help women working on the street. Before the day was over, the police had already referred a woman to us who needed help. 

Since that time, the ministry has continued to evolve. 

We still deliver to the clubs every week and have developed strong relationships with our friends there—allowing us to help them with community resources and other appropriate assistance.  

The street ministry has grown to include a drop-in center downtown. Women from several churches have transformed a former crack house into a beautiful refuge for at-risk women who receive delicious food, clothing, toiletries, referrals to social service and community resources, and life skills classes. We are often blessed to celebrate birthdays, baby showers, and other special events. Most of the women we serve are homeless, so they often take advantage of our living room to rest throughout the day. And when a woman is ready to make significant life change, we assist with referrals to detox and recovery programs. 

All of the women we work with—whether in the clubs or on the street—have experienced trauma of some kind: childhood sexual abuse, rape, physical abuse, trafficking. We’ve seen God at work—miracles of change in women’s lives. We see women getting sober, reuniting with families, and becoming stable and productive. Four weeks ago, one of the first women we met in the clubs in 2000 was baptized—we’d been praying for her for 17 years! 

When I think about my own story and the nature of God, the one word that comes to mind is GRACE. Because I experienced God’s grace the way I did—so undeservedly, so abundantly—it’s pretty easy to extend grace to others. God took every mistake, every wrong turn I made, and used it for good! 

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

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.

#24 God Never Gave Up On Me

Photo by Erin E. Photography

I grew up in the Bible Belt in a dry town in Appalachia. My parents never drank and I lived a pretty sheltered life. I’m very grateful for the foundation my parents provided and the church we attended, where there was a passionate love for the Lord. I knew who God was and I knew what Christ did, but there was not much emphasis on a relationship with God. Instead, God was to be feared, just waiting to punish me.

That lack of relationship made me more vulnerable when I moved away to college where the university motto was “question everything,” and there were lots of opportunities to get in trouble. When I started, I didn’t have one friend. I joined a fraternity but didn’t really fit in. I drank a lot and there was a lot of promiscuous behavior. I lost sight of what I knew was right. I didn’t go to church and my spiritual life seriously declined. My prayers became a list of wants and needs, no gratitude. I prayed from a place of entitlement, where there were no “thank yous” but lots of “why me?”

But God did not abandon me. When I graduated, I moved in with three guys: an atheist, an agnostic, and the other, I just don’t know. I got a job and one of the guys I worked with had a resounding joy… in fact, I thought it couldn’t be real. He was being sued and had recently suffered serious problems but he was still so joyful. I didn’t understand it.

He tried to get me to go to church with him time and time and again. Finally, I agreed—mostly because I thought it would help my chances with the girl I liked. Wrong motives, but God made good of it. This was a different kind of church; the preacher’s messages really resonated with me and there was a real emphasis on our individual relationships with Christ.

So, I joined a small group at church and became great friends with the leader. He eventually started these dinners on Thursday nights where there are now about 80-100 people in attendance on any given night. My Christian community went from one person to a huge community of light. In this community, I experienced the grace and love of Jesus. I then became involved with a ministry to help inner city children. This has made a huge difference in my perspective and taken my relationship with God much deeper. In working with these children, I have experienced God’s presence in a way that I never had. Before, I always felt like I had to do something for God in order to earn His love. Now I have a relationship with a God that doesn’t want to slap me on the wrist, but with a Father that just wants to spend time with me.

God intervened for me. I truly believe that God put that joyful guy at work in my life to begin turning me around. He didn’t work there long and really had no real reason to be there. God put my small group leader in my life and gave me a community of light. He led me to a group of children that allowed me to experience true joy and taught me how to be generous, grateful, and humble. He used these kids to show me that there is never anything I can do to earn His approval, praise and His love. The fact that I am His son is enough. God never gave up on me. After four years of wandering in a wasteland I came away with nothing, but by God’s grace I was led to another place. A place overflowing with hope. To God be the glory for all He has done 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.

#20. His Power Through My Weakness

 Photo by Erin E. Photography

This is the story of how a Father gave me courage, and how He connected the hearts of two of his daughters.

It was late one Wednesday evening in Penang, Malaysia. Every Wednesday, a small group of four or five women and myself would go out onto the dark (in every aspect of the word) streets near our small apartment with the intention of piercing through that darkness with the illuminating hope of Jesus.

Evangelism is not a natural task for me. I feel timid, awkward, and afraid of saying the wrong thing—especially in this strictly Muslim country where it is illegal to share the Word of Christ. Wednesday night street evangelism was always an evening that filled me with dread. Fear would creep its debilitating words inside of me and tell me that I couldn’t do it. It would make me wonder, “What if I get caught?” or “What if someone asks me a question that I don’t have the answer to and I look like a fool?” I knew in my head that Jesus was above this fear, but I didn’t know it in my heart enough to step out in faith. I preferred to stay in the background of the group—or try to mask my fear by saying something like, “I’m not going to talk to anyone tonight; I’ll just pray over the city as we walk.” This wasn’t honorable; it was cowardice.

This Wednesday night in particular was especially dark. The sky was black and the moon and stars were nowhere to be found. The urge felt stronger than ever to back out. But that night was different. I knew that this was an area where I lacked faith as well as courage, but this time I was reminded of 2 Corinthians 12:9. Paul begs the Lord for the thorn in his side to be removed, but each time he makes his plea, the Lord responds with: “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” Yes, Lord! I am so weak, but I don’t have to give in.

“Allow Your power to work through my weakness” was my prayer as we were preparing to leave. As we left our apartment, the sky was rumbling in protest. My small group huddled together to pray to allow the Holy Spirit space to reveal what direction He wanted us to go. After a few moments of prayer, none of us felt a specific urge from Him so we decided to just start walking. We walked and we walked and we walked. We bought water for a homeless lady. We tried to approach a sketchy-looking group outside of a hostel. But it all just made me feel awkward again. Before long, the rumbling sky released its hostage.

The rain was soft, but we ducked into an indoor/outdoor café for refuge. As we sat down and ordered some drinks, I felt downtrodden and defeated. “Lord, I thought that this was the night!” About that time, I looked to my left and saw a Chinese woman in her mid-twenties, sitting alone at a table. I instantly felt a pull toward her. I knew I needed to speak with her—but of course I argued with God instead. She’s going to think I am crazy. What do I even say?!

After a few moments of wrestling inside my head, the young woman got her check and stood up to leave. I was admittedly relieved when I saw her standing up. I missed my chance, but also avoided an awkward encounter. As she neared the exit, that’s when the skies really opened. I have never seen so much rain in my life. In that moment I knew that God had trapped her…and me! I wasn’t getting out of this one.

When she saw that it was raining too hard to go outside, she resumed sitting at a bar facing the street. Without giving myself enough time to talk myself out of it, I stood up and plopped down beside her.

“Hello!” I nervously chirped.

She looked at me, very confused, but courteously nodded my way. Then I was frozen…now what?! I simply asked her if she spoke English, and she replied that she did but very poorly. I then asked if she was planning on staying at the restaurant until it stopped raining, and when she said yes, I asked if I could sit with her. She hesitantly consented, clearly still confused about my intentions.

However, after only moments of speaking and asking questions, it was clear that she was not only at ease, but that we were natural friends. She went on to tell me that she was studying in Singapore, but on vacation by herself in Penang. I kept trying to inquire why she was alone, but she always cleverly avoided the question. Eventually, there was a lull in conversation and we both became quiet. It wasn’t an awkward silence—more of a pensive one.

Before long, she broke the silence. “Megan, I am here alone because my heart is broken and I don’t know how to fix it.” She then began to open her heart and her tears flowed as unrelenting as the rain. As she revealed her hurts and struggles and fears with me, God was able to use me to speak words of hope, truth, and life into her. I told her that He wants to fix her broken heart, and that He will never hurt her. She told me that growing up in China she had never heard the truth of the gospel spoken to her before. The life and the hope that Jesus offers was a whole new phenomenon to her.

We cried together and she let me pray over her. I told her that we have the same Father, and that makes us sisters! We exchanged emails and to this day we chat about life and struggles and hope. She hasn’t made the step to accept Jesus as her Lord and Savior, but I know that she will. Because I acted on the courage that God had given me, I was able to plant a seed in her heart that other people and the Lord will continue to water.

Every day we pass people on the street. Every day we make small talk with someone behind a cash register. Our purpose is to bring God’s kingdom on earth, and we have the opportunity to do that every single day. Step out in faith. I was afraid of feeling awkward, of saying the wrong thing, of me looking like a fool. How selfish is that, when eternity is on the line? As someone once said, “The Holy Spirit doesn’t lead us into ease.” Once we accept that, and get over ourselves, we can literally save lives. 

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.