#56 The Matriarch in Columbia

 Photo by Ashley Brown, Shining Light Photography

In the summer of 2015 I traveled to the mountain village of San Cipriano, Colombia. The village is secluded and there is no way to get there by road. Our plan was street evangelism and we brought 40 bags of food with us. When we reached the top of the mountain, we began sharing the gospel and passing out the food, but we quickly noticed that there were many more houses than we had planned for—60 or 70 houses, and we had food for only 40 houses. I thought about counting the bags to see how many were left, but then thought of the story of David when the Lord told him not to count his troops going into battle because the Lord was bringing the victory. God multiplied the food so that we had enough. The last house we went to received our last bag of food.

On this same afternoon, God highlighted to me a woman washing clothes on the roadside. God said, “Tell her I have called her my matriarch.” I went to her and told her I was on a mission trip and I asked if she had heard of Jesus. She had not. I shared the gospel and then told her what the Lord wanted me to say, “The Lord has established you in your house and you are looked to as your family leader—like the boss lady. The Lord wants to do a good work in you and through you and your decision to follow Christ, all of your family will follow, and through your family, your community and the nation will be impacted.” She immediately accepted Christ. She said she knew I was coming that day because she had a dream the night before, and in her dream a man told her that a man would come to see her the next day and that he would tell her about the one true God and she was to believe him and that God would do great things through her. Thank you Jesus for provision, for dreams, for pursuing us, loving us, and using us.

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.

#40 Never Had I Felt So Close To Heaven

 Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#5. Just The Right Words

Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

 This summer I spent time in prayer to prepare for a mission trip to Cali, Colombia. Three days in a row the same image came to me during my prayer time—a white horse. I had no idea what this was about. Then, the day before I left for Colombia, a group of friends was praying for me and although I had not told them about the white horse, one of the girls praying for me said she saw a picture of a white horse. She said she felt God was going to show me a white horse in Colombia and that it would be a sign that I should minister to the owner of the horse. Now, Cali is a big city, around two million people. It’s not like there were going to be horses running around Cali, Colombia—but I trusted that it was in God’s hands and that He could do anything.

The first day in Colombia we went to visit some orphanages and slum areas and then headed back to the couple’s apartment who was hosting us. They had organized horseback riding lessons for some of our group. One of the girls who was taking a lesson needed an interpreter, so I went with her to interpret. She and I walked with the riding instructor over to the barn to find a horse for her lesson. The instructor was very well known in the area. Not only did he own this large farm and employ many individuals, he also trained many people and was very influential in his community. When he opened the stall to get out her horse, there standing before me was the white horse. I could hardly believe it!

I told God, “Lord, I have no idea what to say.” I felt God say, “Good, because it’s not your words anyway.” After her lesson, I asked the instructor if I could talk to him. I told him about the white horse I had seen during my prayers and about my friend’s prayer and what my friend had told me. And without the slightest effort, from my lips escaped the perfect gospel presentation. The Lord, knowing this man so intimately, knew how to present His truth in terminology this man could understand; namely, He connected to this man through horses.

“You have gone places on your own strength already,” I explained to the man, “but you could go so much further if you partner with Jesus. Imagine you are in a race. You are running, but I’m on a horse. Who will go further? Who will move faster? Who is going to win the race?”

The man answered, “You will.”

I responded, “Yes, and in that same way God wants to partner with you to take you places you could never go on your own.”

While I was talking, I felt he had a calling for healing through horse therapy. I told him that I felt that even with this same white horse, he was going to see people healed on a regular basis if he partnered with the Lord. The man’s jaw fell open, and without a word he pulled out his phone and showed me a video from the previous week. A five-year-old boy, who, due to a mental disability had never been able to walk, was brought to this man in hopes that horse therapy would be of help. After the session, almost miraculously, the boy was indeed able to walk!

Now this man had a strange religion—the horse was his God. But he was in awe that a complete stranger from another country had been sent by God to tell him this message. I shared how deeply God loved him and that if he were the only man on the face of the earth, Christ would have gone to the cross just for him, so that he could spend eternity in relationship with Him. Right then, the man made the decision to give his life to Christ. 

Thank you, Jesus, for loving and pursuing us. Thank you for just the right words at just the right time. Thank you for the miracle of healing. All honor, praise, and glory to you, Lord.

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.