#248. God Called Me Into Ministry One Step at a Time

Photo by Jeff Rogers Photography

In the late 1990s, my wife and I had a conversation while driving home from her parents’ house. It went like this:

“I feel like God is calling me into ministry,” I said.

“What do you mean?” my wife asked. “What kind of ministry?”

“I really don’t know,” I said.

“Well,” my wife said, “I don’t want to be married to a preacher.”

And I said, “Okay.”

So, I came home and I said, “Now, Lord, you know that we’re married, and so if You call me into something, You have to call her too. So now, I’m done with this until she changes her mind.”

About 15 years later, around 2005 or 2006, I started feeling that call again. This time it was more specific, in that I felt like I was being called to seminary. So, I said, “Okay, whatever this ministry thing is, it’s going to require a seminary degree.”

I had not completed my bachelor’s degree at that point. So, I told my wife what I thought, and she said, “Go finish your bachelor’s degree.” And, so I did, I graduated from Asbury University in 2009. Then I applied and was accepted into the Church of God Theological Seminary, which is now the Pentecostal Theological Seminary, one of the larger Pentecostal seminaries in the south. 

I went for, I think, three semesters, then I started getting opportunities with my job. Because I had graduated, they kind of sat down and said, “Here’s what we see for you in your future.” I also, at the same time, was forced to make a decision about going to seminary full-time and having to actually commute on certain days because some of the classes I needed I could not take online.

This is 2009, 2010, 2011, so we’re not in the whole “virtual learning” thing at that point. So, I decided, without a whole lot of prayer or talking to anyone, that I was just going to forget about seminary and focus on my career.

So, I dropped out, thinking I’d go to seminary at some point later on.

The next semester, my boss asked me to get my MBA, paid for by my company. So, I said, “Okay.” I went to the school that they recommended I go to, which they were going to pay for. I took three or four classes before the school made the decision to shut that cohort down. It was the very first time in the history of the program that they had closed the cohort. My only option was to drive to Louisville for classes, over an hour from my house. 

I said, “No, I’m not going to do that.” 

They said, “Well, you can wait and join online, whenever the classes that you need come up.”

I said, “No, I’m not doing that.”

So, by late spring or early summer of 2015, I was miserable. I had a good job, paid good, good benefits — but I hated it. I hated going to work.

I remember distinctly — I can tell you the clothes that I was wearing as I was walking down the aisle at work, I said, “Lord, there’s got to be more to life than this. I want You to put me where You want me to be, doing what You want me to do because I want to be in the center of Your will.”

That was the prayer that I began to pray and, at the same time, I started job hunting.

I believe it was late August or early September of 2015, I got a job offer at another company. It came with a raise and more responsibilities. Basically, I’d be in charge of the daily operations of a distribution center. So, I prayed about it. I felt really good about it. And, I accepted the job.

It started out really good — best job, at that point, that I’d ever had. I was working for one of the best bosses I’d ever had. 

They had a layoff right after I got there. I was called into the office and they said, “Don’t worry about it. This has nothing to do with you. You’re too new anyway.” 

In April or May of 2016, the vice president called me into his office and said, “Look, we’ve got some things going on in the company, but I don’t want you to be worried about it.” They gave me a raise. They gave me a bonus. They gave me shares of stock in the company. They laid out a three-year plan of what they wanted me to do and assured me that I had found my forever employment. I was going to retire from there. Great! I thought.

We went on vacation, June 23 or June 24, to Glacier National Park in Montana. It turns out that my wife had a dream while we were on vacation, but I didn’t know anything about her dream. She wrote it down:

“It was the most vivid dream that I have ever experienced,” Adrena said. “In this dream, I lost my job. And, my boss had shared with me that I hadn’t really done anything. It was the finances of the company. I actually still have the dream in my phone. It was so real. I am in this dream. I physically felt the emotion. I cried. It really tore me up. 

When I woke up from this dream, I was really just stiff. You know, you’ve probably experienced a nightmare at some point. When I woke up, it was almost like I was in that nightmare, just physically tense. And, I can remember opening up my eyes first, before anything else, and I kind of just looked around and my husband wasn’t in the bed. He was in the shower. And, I thought, “Well, I’ll tell him when he gets out of the shower.” Then, I’m like, “This dream is so different from any I’ve ever experienced. I’m going to get my phone and put it in my notes. So, I wrote my dream out, you know, everything in it. And then I still thought, I’ll tell him when he gets out of the shower. And I just laid my phone down. Then, I don’t know if I just forgot. I really don’t know, but I didn’t tell him. I didn’t tell him on the trip at all.” 

So now we get back home and we are both getting ready for work. I had to be there at 5:30 a.m. When I got to work, I saw my boss’s vehicle in the parking lot and immediately I knew something was wrong. I didn’t think it had anything to do with me, but I knew there was something wrong because my boss doesn’t come to work at 5:30 a.m. 

After I got in and got the coffee going, I saw the HR manager. I was like, “Oh, boy. I don’t know what has happened while I’ve been gone, but it’s not good.”

My boss said, “Hey Brian, can you step into the office for a minute.”

I was like, “Well, here we go. What have ‘they’ done?” I had a couple of problem employees, so my thought was “They have really done something bad.” 

That’s when they broke the news to me. “While you were off, the company had a downsizing. This has nothing to do with your job performance. This doesn’t have anything to do with you personally. This has everything to do with the bottom line of the company.”

They had let several folks go in the distribution center, my former boss being one of them — a guy that was the best boss that I’d had up to that point. They let him go. That left a lot of inexperience running the distribution center, but that’s what the bean counters wanted. So that’s what they got.

So, I walked out. I said goodbye to a few folks. I got in the truck and came home. 

Adrena’s still at home getting ready and preparing to leave for work, since it is still so early. She hears the garage door open and thinks, “Why is the garage door opening?” She yells, “Brian, is that you?”

“Yes,” I said.

She asks, “What are you doing home?”

“I just lost my job,” I said.

Well, as soon as I said, “I just lost my job,” Adrena immediately thought of her dream. She met me with her phone in hand. She pulled up the dream and handed me the phone. She said, “Oh, my goodness, I may go into work today and lose my job too.”

As I read the notes about Adrena’s dream, I looked at her and said, “That dream is not going to be for you. That dream was for me because this is almost verbatim what they told me.”

At that point, Adrena went to work and she didn’t lose her job. We went through a very challenging time. It was tough for both of us for me to be unemployed for a time. But she said that dream is what helped her empathize more, since she truly ‘felt inside’ some of what I went through losing my job. 

I do believe the Lord gave her that dream and that’s what kept our marriage together — that dream. 

I got a lead on a job not too long after that, and I thought, “It’s going to be okay.”

When I told Adrena I was one of the final three candidates, she said, “No. You’re not going to get that job because you haven’t learned your lesson.”

And, I was like, “Well, now, that’s not a very nice thing to say to me, especially with you yelling at me to get a job.”

I really was praying, and I felt God telling me: “You need to go to seminary.”

I was like, “Well, Lord, that’s all well and good, but now I don’t even have a job. And the bill collectors are still going to keep coming to see me.”

Adrena was right. I didn’t get the job. I couldn’t buy a job. I literally interviewed to be a meter reader and didn’t get the job. Here I am. I’m responsible for an entire distribution center and I can’t get a job as a meter reader. I kept suffering defeat after defeat after defeat, which was driving me to the point of depression. I even remember walking around outside in my barn saying, “Lord, I don’t want to live like this. I know I’m ready to go. So, you just go ahead and take me. I’ll go be with Jesus and she can get what little bit of life insurance and retirement I’ve got left and live happily ever after.

I just kept hearing ‘seminary.’ So, I told Adrena. And she said, “No. We’re not going into debt to go to seminary.”

So, I went back out to my special place to pray. I said, “Now, Lord, I’ve tried this, I don’t know, two or three times. And, you see the response that I get every time. I’m done. You fix my life the way it needs to be fixed or you fix my wife the way she needs to be fixed, or you fix both of us the way we need to be fixed, but somebody is wrong here, and I’m not sure who it is.”

A few days after that prayer, I remember, I was sitting beside my best friend at our home church and his phone rings. Brother Jay pulls out his phone and hands it to me because it’s my wife calling. So his assumption, without even answering the phone, was that she was trying to get a hold of me and knew that I was with him.

So, I answered his phone, “How did you get Jay’s phone?” Adrena asked.

I said, “Well, he’s sitting right here beside me. He handed it to me.”

And she said, “I’m not wanting to talk to you. I want to talk to Jay.”

I was like, “OK, it’s going to be one of those nights. So, I handed the phone back to Jay and I let it go. I never said anything. I didn’t ask about it. I came home. I got in bed. I went to sleep. And I got up the next morning and I was back at my little spot doing my Bible study and prayer and quiet time, and the phone rang. It was my wife.

I was like, “Oh boy, this early in the morning, really?”

And she said, “Go ahead and apply for seminary.” 

I said, “Are you serious?”

She said, “Yes. I’ve talked to Brother Jay and I’ve talked to my cousin.”

When Adrena had told me we weren’t going into debt for me to go to seminary, I asked her to at least pray about it. She didn’t tell me she would or wouldn’t pray, but she did start praying about it. She prayed for weeks actually, and she also asked her cousin in Louisville to pray for us. All she told her cousin was that I had lost my job, so she was just praying for me to get a job.

That morning Adrena’s at work and her cousin texts to ask “How are you all doing?”

Adrena texts back, “Pretty good. No. Brian’s not found anything yet.” She sits the phone down and continues working.

Her cousin texts again, “If Brian is dealing with a calling on his life, he needs to accept it.”

When Adrena read that text message, she knew her cousin did not know that she’d been praying about seminary for Brian. So, she knew there was more to it.

I turned my phone upside down, where I couldn’t see it anymore and I went back to work as hard as I could, trying to get it off my mind for a little bit — knowing. And when I left work that evening, I was driving around New Circle Road. That’s when I called Brother Jay and Brian answered his phone.

I’m like, “What are you doing with Brother Jay and where are you?” Brian’s like, “I’m at church.” I’m like, “It’s a Monday night, what are y’all doing at church?” He’s like, “We had a fellowship meeting,” and I’m like, “What?”

And I said, “Well there are some things I need to talk more to a pastor type person about than you right now. So, I ended up talking to Brother Jay and his wife later that evening. I told them I really felt like Brian had this calling and needed to pursue it. I told them I am now willing to accept the fact that this is where we’re headed. I just felt like I needed somebody to talk to because he had been hearing it. He had asked me to pray. I didn’t really want to, but when I prayed that’s the same message I got too.

So that morning I told Brian, “I think you should go ahead and apply to seminary.”

I remember he asked, “Did this have anything to do with that phone call last night?”

I said, “It did.” 

He’s like, “Oh, okay. Adrena, it’s like three weeks before school starts. There’s no way I’m going to get in seminary now.”

I called the seminary where I was a previous student, so it wasn’t like I was starting off from scratch, but in some ways it was, since I had been out for so long. They said, “Well, we’ll do what we can sir, but a lot has got to do with you. You’ve got to have three letters of reference written, sent in, received, reviewed and accepted by the seminary. And then we’ve got to make sure that there’s a spot for you in the classes you want to take. 

And I said, “Okay.”

So, I contacted three pastor friends of mine. Told them the situation, and I left it at that. This was on Tuesday morning.

Three days later — Friday afternoon — I received a letter in the mail saying that I had been accepted, approved and enrolled, along with the start date of my classes. I barely had enough time to get my books. And, to top it all off, they cut my tuition for that semester in half and they did not make me pay it until the end of the semester, which is unheard of. 

So, that started me back to seminary. 

I was still looking for a job because I knew that unemployment was going to run out, and I got a phone call from a guy that used to work for me. 

He said, “Hey, are you still looking for a job?”

I said, “Well, yeah.”

He said, “Why don’t you come be my boss?”

I said, “Huh?”

So, I interviewed, and when I walked onto the shop floor, I knew immediately that’s where I needed to be because the Lord spoke to me. I felt the prompting that said, “You are here for that individual.” This person was a long-time friend of mine, a former pastor, who had left the church and left the faith altogether because of some things in his personal life.

But the Lord said, “You’re here to witness to him.”

And I said, “Lord, I don’t want to do that. And, I left and came back home.”

It went about a month and my wife, being the nice, loving wife that she is, let me know one morning that “Any job is better than no job” and that I should seek employment. So I called that company back and said, “Okay, I’ll come.”

I worked there for a little over a year, while going to school at the same time. So, if I needed to go to Cleveland, I worked it out to where I could be off work and go to Cleveland and come back. They knew up front that I was in seminary. I made that perfectly clear. They said, “We’ll work with you.” And they did.

Well, then things started getting rough on me. I felt that it was time for me to leave that job. But how do you quit your job and not have any other job lined up? I knew that I had to have clinical pastoral education (CPE) to graduate from seminary, and I was approaching the graduation point.

So, I came home and I told my wife, and she said, “You’re not quitting your job.” And I said, “But I’ve got to get in to CPE. “You’re not quitting your job,” she said. So, this went on. It went on till all the CPE centers were closed. They had filled up. There were no spots left anywhere.  

I felt led to contact a CPE center in Louisville, more than an hour from our home. All the ones around here were closed. I called the Louisville center and was told, “Well, you’ve really caught me at a good time because I had a full class, but I’ve got a guy that I’m pretty sure is going to drop out. And if he drops out and you want his spot, you can have it because we’re so close to starting that I don’t have time to recruit. So I’m just going to let you in if he drops out. 

A week later he called me or I called him, and he said, “Do you still want the spot?” And I said, “Yeah.” And he said, “You’re in.”

I didn’t interview for it. I didn’t apply for it. I was just in. So, after I got there, they wanted my application, so I gave it to them. And, we’re over half way through the CPE unit, when they’re ask me for some more information that I never submitted to begin with. And, they said, “Well, the way you came in, it probably got lost somewhere anyway, so don’t worry about it. So, I never did have to fill out part of the stuff that you normally have to fill out. And again, never interviewed for it, just got accepted over the phone and went in.  

So, I completed that unit of CPE. Part of that training had me serving 40 hours a week at a homeless shelter, which was a life-changing experience. It showed me a whole different world and changed my entire perspective on homelessness.

After I completed my CPE training, I came home and started looking for a job, again I couldn’t buy one. I went to these clothing stores who will hire anybody, except me. I went to Lifeway Christian Store, which was actively seeking employees. You would think that a guy who’s getting ready to have an MDiv would be a shoe-in, ‘nope,’ wouldn’t even talk to me.

So one morning my wife told me, “You go find a job and you go find a job today.” 

I said, “Okay God, you heard my wife. I need a job and I need a job today.”

I walked into Rural King in Winchester, and I didn’t give them my full resume. I was frustrated. I was aggravated. I did a copy and paste. It was the worst looking resume I have ever done in my life, and I had it in my hand and I walked in, wearing just normal everyday outdoor clothes. 

All the managers were standing around the little desk at Rural King. One of them said, “Can I help you?” And I said, “Well, I hope so. I’m looking for a job.” And he looked at me and said, “You look like you already work here, but I tell you what, I don’t usually do the hiring, let me get a hold of Shane.”

So, Shane comes over, and says, “Boy, this is a nice-looking resume.” And I thought he was being sarcastic, so I said, “Well sir, I have a professional resume.” He said, “You could have written it with crayon on cardboard and it would have been alright with me.” And he called another guy and said, “Hey, are you still looking for an inventory specialist?” And the guy said, “Yeah, I am.”

Shane asked me some questions, I passed an on-the-spot drug test and came home with a job that day. And before I left Rural King, I ended up being operations manager of the store, which meant that the next time a store opened I’d have first shot at becoming a store manager.

Once I got into seminary, although I’d given no thought to chaplaincy whatsoever, that’s where I felt God leading me, either counseling or chaplaincy. When I checked it was the same requirements, the only difference would be the word written on my diploma ‘counseling’ or ‘chaplaincy.’

So I stuck with chaplaincy, and I applied for a residency at the VA in Lexington. I also interviewed at the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville.

Once my wife had accepted that God was calling me into chaplaincy, she told me, “You’re going to be a chaplain at the VA. And, I said from the very beginning, “It’s not possible. I can’t do it. I don’t have any qualifications to be a chaplain at the VA. It can’t happen.” So chaplaincy at the VA was never really legitimately on my radar — ever.

I get a call from the VA and they said, “We’d like to offer you a paid residency for one year at the VA in Lexington.” Well, it shocked me so much that I choked up and began to cry. I don’t cry. I’m not a crier. And my CPE educator said, “I hear emotion in your voice. What’s that about?”

I told him, “I didn’t think I was going to get this.” Turns out I beat out 14 other people for that spot. I had no idea.

“It was divine intervention,” Adrena said.

A week before I was supposed to start, I got a call from the chief of chaplain services saying, “Hey, we’ve got a program that we would like to get you trained in called Warrior to Soulmate, it’s like a marriage counseling thing. But I can’t pay you to do it because you’re not officially on the books. But if you will come this week, I will give you equivalent time off that you can use anytime you want to use it.” 

The chief of chaplain services in Cincinnati, Ohio, came to Lexington to train us. I complete the training. My official second week, but my unofficial third week at the hospital, I’m walking down the hallway from the Community Living Center (CLC) back to my office. I said, “Lord, I know where I’m at right now, but where am I going to be a year from now?”

And as clearly as anyone has ever spoken to me, the Lord said, “Don’t you worry about where you’re going to be a year from now. You learn what I need you to learn right now, and I’ll take care of next year.” 

Well, I was up in this room shortly after that, it may have even been the next day, and the enormity of my responsibility hit me like a mac truck. “We’re not playing games here. I’m actually here to help these folk. I’m not a veteran. I’m not old. I’m not disabled. I thought, “How am I going to connect with these guys?”

“How?” I’ve got nothing in common with them. My anxiety broke out like you wouldn’t believe. I thought I was going to have a stroke or a heart attack right then and there. I was like, “God you’ve got to help me, cause I don’t know what to do. I’ve got seminary training, I’ve got church training. “I ain’t got no training for these folk.” 

And the Lord spoke to me and directed my attention to the corner of that room. And in the corner in-between the bookcase and the wall, was a guitar. And the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “That is how you are going to connect. That guitar.”

I’d played the guitar and sang all my life. So I went back to the office and asked my mentor, “You guys have guitar groups or people that come in and sing and play?”

He said, “No, but we’ve been wanting someone who can play the guitar and sing because the veterans love that.” 

I said, “Well, I might be able to help you there.”

He said, “Are you kiddin’ me?”

And that was it. My guitar and my singing and all of a sudden everybody in the Community Living Center (CLC), everybody in the hospital knows who I am. “I’m the chaplain who can sing and play.” I started getting requests to go to people’s rooms. It just opened up the entire hospital to me.

Well, after six months is over, this was right as the COVID pandemic was hitting, I got transferred from the CLC to the main hospital. It shares a campus with the University of Kentucky. So, they still left me with hospice and palliative care at the main hospital, but I was no longer doing the work in the CLC. So they give you a broad range of experiences to learn different skillsets. 

I got to do some things as a resident with hospice and palliative care that other residents never got to experience. 

The first six months at the VA, I was assigned to the CLC. And the reason that he did it is because the CLC is for hospice and palliative care. Now there is some rehabilitation and some respite, but it is mostly dementia, hospice and palliative care, which is a much slower, much different approach to work and lifestyle than I was ever used to. I was used to fast-paced, snap decisions, put it in place, let’s get it done. You got time to lean, you got time to clean. The whole business mantra. 

And, I asked my mentor one day, “Did you assign me to the CLC to slow me down?”

And, he said, “Yes, I did. It was strategic. I wanted you here on this campus. I wanted you to learn this skillset, and I wanted you to slow down because I think you’re going to make a great chaplain.” 

In my last three months at the VA, they assigned me to the intensive care units. While I was in the ICUs I was asked to bring my guitar and play and sing for veterans there. 

I’ve had doctors tell me that my appearance in the room with my guitar was actually a turning point in the care of some of those individuals.

My last month at the VA, I’m starting to get a little concerned. I’m starting to try and figure out what am I going to do next? Well, the Army called me and said, “We’re looking for men like you.” I participated in the big speech they gave, the meeting they had. He said, “Get me your stuff. We can get you in. You’ll be fine. We will make a chaplain out of you. And if you still want to serve your full 20 years, you’re young enough that you can do it.” At the time I was only 44 years old. 

My wife said, “No, absolutely not.”

“Okay God, so military’s not in it and the VA’s not in it, what am I going to do?”

She’s still saying VA, I’m saying ain’t no way. I went and talked to my boss and he said there’s no way. I don’t have spot first of all, but secondly you don’t have the qualifications. 

What happened was there was this policy thing called “Hybrid Title 38” circulating up in Washington, but it didn’t get pushed through until after I was supposed to leave Lexington.

I got a job offer from Central Baptist in Lexington as a part-time and PRN chaplain. The lady called me in for the interview. She said, “I looked at your resume and I want to hire you because you’re going to be here when there is no other leadership here, and I’m going to trust you to take care of all the chaplain issues in the hospital when there’s no leadership here. I need someone I can trust.”

I said, “Okay, give me a couple days.”

The next day, the Lord had laid a gentleman on my heart that I knew from seminary. I knew he had gotten moved to Cincinnati. He was pastoring a church up there. He was originally from Georgia, but he was a bishop and overseer of Fiji and New Zealand. Because of COVID they kicked him out and he was back in the U.S.

So my seminary friend, Daniel, had to find something to do. He was assigned to a church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Overseers typically don’t serve as a pastor and an overseer. It doesn’t happen. He was a Marine with a master’s of divinity, a master’s in mental health counseling and a doctorate in ministry.

I told him, “Daniel, while you are waiting to get back into Fiji, why don’t you go do a residency at the VA and if you ever want to work for the VA, you’re a shoe-in. You have everything they want — everything, the only thing that you’re missing is a residency.”

The Lord laid on my heart to call the Cincinnati VA, where my CPE trainer worked. They called me back the next day and said, “This guy sounds really impressive, but what are you doing?”

“I’m getting ready to go to work at Central Baptist,” I said.

“Would you be interested in coming to Cincinnati and doing a second year of residency or a fellowship?

I said, “Well, I really hadn’t given that a whole lot of thought, but I’ll think about it.” That’s what I said, but I was actually thinking, “I don’t even have to pray about this. I just tell my wife. She’s going to say, ‘No.’ That’s it. We’re done.”

So, we’re on the way home from work and I said, “Oh, by the way, they called me from Cincinnati and they’re interested in Daniel, but they’re also interested in me. And my wife looked at me and shocked me. You could have knocked me over, at that point, with a feather.” 

She said, “Well, I think you should go ahead and do it, and if they take you, we’ll figure it out.”

In my mind I was thinking, “Who are you and what have you done with my wife — cause this ain’t her. “

So, I said, “Lord, I know this is You, cause that ain’t my wife. So that had to be You speaking through her.” 

I didn’t say anything, but the next day I called him back and said, “Well, Chaplain McKinney, I guess, if you’re interested, I’m interested. He said, “Well, I want to meet you in person, can you drive up?”

So, I said, “Well, how am I going to pull this off? So, I told my chief of chaplain services in Lexington and he said, “Yeah, go on up and meet with him and see what he says. Then when you get done, come on back to work.”

“Are you kiddin’ me?” You’re going to pay me to go interview … “Yes, sir.” 

So I did.

When I got up there, I found out that the chief of chaplain services was no longer there. They had brought in a new guy, but he was temporary, and it seemed like they were getting ready to lose another chaplain. 

So the only person that I met that day was Chaplain McKinney. I was thinking to myself, now this real great. There’s no stability. I don’t know what’s going to happen and it is 105 miles one way from my house to the VA. 

And, I knew, by the way the interview up there went, that it was mine. And he told me, “Welcome aboard.” 

So, I came home and I told my wife, I said, “I got it.” And she said, “Okay.”

So the third week that I was up there. They had what was called the Fisher House, where veterans and family of veterans can stay if they live more than 50 miles away and they need to be there overnight. 

So, I asked my boss. I said, “Hey, how about I work four tens. I’ll work Sunday and Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. You let me stay overnight at the Fisher House and I’ll be on call. So I will be here at the hospital and if they need a chaplain I’m right here.”

He said, “Let me run it by the Fisher House.” 

They said, “Okay.”

“I am the very first non-veteran employee that was allowed to stay at the Fisher House six months.” Up until that point they had never allowed it.

The second week that I’m at the VA up there. I tell them that I would really like to have some experience with mental health. I’ve done the CLC, I know it like the back of my hand. I know all the protocols. I know all the rules and regulations that COVID has brought. I know all of it. I’ve got experience with the ICUs, cause I’ve don’t that – but I’ve never worked with mental health.

So he said, CPE is a chance for you to learn a skillset. The second week that I was there that they were scheduled to hand out assignments, the chaplain that was assigned to the CLC retired. 

The chief of chaplain services told my educator that I was going to the CLC because I already knew it. In fact, I’m going to give him the office that the staff chaplain had for the CLC. That will just be his office. 

Now there’s three residents. I get an office. I get assigned to the CLC. 

It was six or eight weeks after I got there, the director of the CLC sent a letter to my boss that said, “Hey, we feel like God has sent Brian to the CLC. We appreciate what he’s doing, and we look forward to working with him going forward.”  

So my boss walks in and says, “Guess we have found your assignment while you are here.”

So about six months in, my boss has a meeting with us and says, “I have tried to post the CLC job three times. It has never posted. I’ve had HR try to post it. They can’t figure out why it’s not posting. We don’t know what’s going on, but I’m going to try again. 

Well, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “Go tell him that you’d like to have the job.”

“Okay.” So, after the meeting was over, I went into his office and I said, “Hey chief, can I talk to you a minute.” He said, “Sure, come on in.”

I said, “I’d like to have the job.” 

He said, “Are you serious?” 

I said, “Yeah, I’m here and I’ve been doing it. I’ll take it.”

He said, “Well, I guess that’s why I couldn’t post it. Alright. You can have it.”

“That was literally it.” They gave me a start date before I ever applied for the job. I was already there.

Now that’s where this Title 38 comes in because Hybrid Title 38 says, you can hire a resident or fellow who has completed at least one year of residency without competition. So they didn’t have to post the job. They just hired me and that was it. 

So that is how I went from being a manager in manufacturing, logistics and retail to becoming a full-time staff chaplain at the VA in Cincinnati, 105 miles from home.

I don’t think my story is finished yet, but there’s been a whole lot happen to put me where I am right now. 

So, I can say without any reservations, shadow of doubts, without questioning: I am in God’s will, doing what God wants me to do, where God wants me to do it. Because I would have never in my wildest dreams or imagination or fantasy put myself as a staff chaplain in Cincinnati, Ohio — ever. It wasn’t even anything I was thinking about. 

It’s been one “God moment” after another – a lot of ups and downs, a lot of questions, a lot of ‘What in the world is going on?’ ‘Why is this happening?’ Of course looking back, I see how each step built on the next step.

I grew up in this little country church and I don’t ever remember not playing the guitar, though I never had a lesson. I did not grow up in a musical family, but my 88-year-old grandmother remembers watching me pick up a guitar at church and start strumming it. I was probably three or four years old at the time. She said she watched me go from just strumming to changing chords when everybody else changed chords. 

That was the night I learned to play the guitar.  

They talk about having ‘perfect pitch,’ that’s when you can hear a note and know what key that note is in. And, I have had that for most of my life. I can hear a song on the radio and know what key that song is being sung in. 

God’s ways are truly above our ways.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. — Jeremiah 29:11

A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps. — Proverbs 16:9c

#245. COVID Lessons About the Faithfulness of God

Photo by Tammy Warren

My wife Dee Dee and I will never forget Christmas Day 2020. That’s when we believe we were both exposed to coronavirus, while visiting with family. 

We developed symptoms that led us to be tested on Dec. 27, and within 24 hours we learned we were both positive for COVID-19. While Dee Dee had a milder case of the virus, I had the full gamut. I was sick to my stomach and had fever, aches, pains — everything a person could have, I had it.

Dee Dee drove me to the emergency room on Dec. 28 or 29, I am unclear about the date. I was advised to go home and take over-the-counter pain relievers and fever reducers, like Tylenol or Advil. It was suggested we purchase a pulse oximeter to keep check of my oxygen level. 

I just kept getting sicker and my oxygen level kept plummeting, so within days we were back at the emergency room. This time, they gave me fluids and called in some prescription meds for me. They told me to go directly to the facility across the street to have an infusion of monoclonal antibodies. They said they’d set it up for us.

“All you have to do is walk across the street,” they said. “They’re waiting on you, and they’re going to give you the antibodies. You should feel better in three or four days.”

They told us the antibody infusion would take a couple hours, but that Dee Dee would not be able to go in the facility with me. So, she dropped me off at the entrance and then headed to the pharmacy to pick up the prescriptions the ER doctor had called in for me.

I walked into the facility with my mask on, noticing it was a cancer care facility.

“What are you here for?” they asked me. I explained that the emergency room staff set me up to receive antibodies. They didn’t know what I was talking about.

I explained again: “I just left the emergency room. They said for me to come over here to receive antibodies.”

“Do you have COVID?” they asked me.

“Yes, I do, that’s why I’m here to get the antibody thing,” I said.

They replied, “You’ve got to get out of the building immediately.”

So, I left the building. It was very cold outside. I sat on a bench as I called Dee Dee to come back and get me. “They didn’t know anything about this stuff I’m supposed to get,” I told her. “They said I have to make an appointment and that it could be a week or two.”

As I waited for Dee Dee to return, someone came out of the facility to tell me that I couldn’t even sit on the bench.

“You’ve got to get off our property,” they said.

Dee Dee returned to pick me up. She somehow got an appointment for me to return to this facility in three days for an antibody infusion. In the meantime, the ER doctor prescribed oxygen around the clock at home.

Three days later we showed up for the antibody infusion appointment. I walked in all hooked up to my portable oxygen. They took one look at me and stated the obvious, “You’re on oxygen.” 

“Well, yes, I am,” I said. 

“We can’t give you antibodies if you’re on oxygen,” they told me.

At this point, I was so sick, a lot sicker than I was three days prior. Dee Dee was waiting in the car. They brought me back out, nothing accomplished.

Dee Dee immediately took me back across the street to the emergency room. On that short trip, I was crying out, “God, why? Why me? Why all of these roadblocks? Why? Why? Why?”

As a pastor, I tell people, “You don’t know how you’re going to react to anything until you are in that situation.”

We were both upset and discouraged. Once we got back over to the emergency room we couldn’t even find a parking spot. The emergency room was full, and I thought, “Oh my gosh, what are we going to do now?”

Dee Dee said, “We’re going in.”

So, Dee Dee wheeled me and my oxygen tank into the emergency room waiting area. A nurse spotted us and asked, “Does he have COVID?”

“Yes, he does,” Dee Dee said. This nurse wasted no time and took me back immediately. In my crying out to the Lord between the two buildings, I believe that God ordained this direct route to the emergency room physician through this nurse. 

I remember being in the emergency room with Dee Dee waiting in the car. My oxygen level was low and they told me they would have to intubate me right now. I texted Dee Dee these words: “I’m scared.” 

The next thing I knew, I was out — and I was out until March.

“I’m sitting there and sitting there,” Dee Dee remembered. “Friends came by to check on me, since they know I’m sitting in the parking lot. Then Steve texts me, “I’m scared.” I was like, “I am too.”

“I was thinking he’d go into the emergency room and they would do something, fix him and send him back out, but after I dropped him off, I didn’t get to see him again until sometime the middle of January.

“I knew God had Steve in His hands, I believed and didn’t believe at the same time. I was just so scared. We’ve been together since I was 13 years old, married when I was 18. The thought came to me that I may never get to see him and talk to him again. It was terrifying.”

Dee Dee’s mom came to stay with her while Steve was hospitalized. Their youngest son also flew in from Texas. Pastor Barry, his wife, Gay, as well as other church friends, provided ongoing support and encouragement. One friend, Marilyn, began texting an encouraging scripture to Dee Dee every day, and she continues doing so to this very day. 

Everyone kept telling Dee Dee, “When you get to see him, it will be so much better.”

“That was the worst moment of my life,” recalled Dee Dee of seeing Steve in the hospital for the first time. “His kidneys had shut down two days after he was hospitalized, and he had to go on full-time dialysis. His blood pressure, which had always been high, was now low. Just to watch COVID destroy his body was so fearful to me. I knew God was in control, but I had to be reminded of that every single day.”

As the weeks and months passed, Dee Dee became so upset that she could no longer listen to online sermons or Christian music. “It wasn’t that I lost faith,” she said. “I was just so scared to live my life without him. I never in my wildest dreams thought there would be a time when I would not be able to listen to Christian music or Pastor Barry’s sermons, but that was my experience. It seemed the words hurt me instead of helping me at the time.”

Even though Dee Dee didn’t see any improvement in Steve’s condition, he was moved from the hospital to the intensive care unit of a rehab facility, where he was gradually taken off sedation and the three paralytic medications that he’d been given to prevent movement.

“When I began to wake up, it was a scary time for me,” Steve remembered. “It was also a scary time for Dee Dee and my family. If you haven’t, you will at some point, come face to face with death. If there’s any source of encouragement that I could say to you, it’s okay to be frightened — but hopeful — if you belong to the Lord.”

When Steve was able to text, he texted Pastor Barry, “Man, I am struggling. Just struggling.” 

“In what way?” Pastor Barry asked.

“In every way, in every way,” Steve replied.

Looking back, Steve can see his battle was both physical and spiritual. “No matter how physically, emotionally or spiritually strong you think you are, you are still vulnerable. There’s nobody who is exempt from spiritual warfare. And, I believe a lot of what I experienced was spiritual,” Steve said.

“There was a turning point in my recovery — a time when things moved from hopeless to hopeful. Pastor Barry visited and asked me if I had been in the Word. At that point I couldn’t even lift a Bible. So, we figured out a way and got people to prop up the Bible for me.

“Physical therapy began before I could feel my legs. I was able to sit on the side of the bed and, after a few days was able to semi stand, not straightening up. They worked with me diligently, and I had strong determination.

“I got a firm talking-to by my pastor. I kept thinking, ‘Man, why is he so hard on me?’”

Pastor Barry wanted me to get better, telling me, “I don’t care what they tell you. If they tell you to sit there and wiggle your finger for two or three minutes a day — you wiggle that finger.”

“As much as we can talk about everything that we went through, and how frightening and horrible it was — the entire time we weren’t alone,” Steve recalled. “God was with us every step of the way, even when we thought He wasn’t.

“If God had chosen not to heal me, it would not have made Him any lesser God. He would have still been glorified as a result, but I do believe that for whatever reason God chose to reveal himself again as a miracle worker through my life.

“I think I told Pastor Barry as soon as I could talk, ‘I’m a miracle.’ I don’t say that in a boastful way, but I truly believe that I’m a miracle. I even coded once. Things looked bleak. I have had so many conversations, you know, when my doctor said, “You should have died five or six times and you’re still here.”

The director of the respiratory department said, “When they bring someone in on a ventilator, my job is to assess whether that person will come off the ventilator. I told them you would not come off it.”

She, the director, walked into my room nearly every morning and just cry, saying, “I just can’t believe it.”

“And I’d reply, ‘I can’t believe it either, but to God be the glory.’”

After 101 days in the hospital recovering from COVID-19, Steve was discharged on April 15, 2021. He came home in a wheelchair, then moved to a walker, then to a cane, then to a sort of a little limp every now and again. “I can’t stand on my feet very long, but I’m standing,” he said. “Thanks be to God.” 

#213. Praying Wives: Control Less, Pray More

Photo by Brianna Rapp

Have you ever felt, as a praying wife, that your husband is “getting it wrong” on a big decision for your family? Not in a prideful way, but genuinely you have discerned in your spirit that a decision needs to be made differently. These moments can be very hard as a wife. You may be the wife who deeply trusts and respects your husband, remaining prayerful in the midst of a life-changing decision for which you disagree. But, if you’re like I was a couple years into marriage, driven by anxiety instead of security in the relationship, you didn’t keep your mouth shut.

My husband was in the middle of a major life-changing decision. He was pursuing a job that looked perfect on paper. He is a pastor, and this opportunity was a pay raise, a great community at a large church with tons of resources. I knew it would’ve “pat his back” as an accelerated career move. However, I just had a sense — this isn’t it. 

After every interview, he would ask me what I thought. You see, he needed me to be supportive. He was agonizing with the idea that pursuing a ministry career path could be detrimental to the security of our family. His insecurities about this trajectory made this option so promising to him. He needed me to be excited. But what did I do after every interview? Let’s just say this, the sensitivities were always aggravated — tension always increased in our home. And honestly, I do believe God was speaking to me in prayer — answering our prayers for clarity. 

I went into the hiring process with him open-minded. But as I prayed, I felt more and more “off” about the entire option. To whatever end, my opinions didn’t stay prayerfully considerate of his feelings. I always made sure that by the end of the conversation that my thoughts were heard. 

What this did would take a couple years to undo — for us to find trust and safety in decision-making again. I really wounded him. I made my husband, whom I love and trust, feel like I would be controlling his life and future as long as we were married. Sure, there were absolutely two-sides to the wounding. I don’t think I was a brute, but I was strong and he was already insecure and struggling. I rubbed dirt in the open-wound though my abrasive opinions. Has any wife ever been here? Regretful of how you attempted to control, even in the name of what you believed was right? 

Ultimately, he was offered the job. Yet, being certain that I did not support the opportunity, he turned it down. I felt so guilty. You could feel the tension and bitterness building in our relationship. He could’ve had a pay raise, a great community of support, and a job that made him feel valued as a leader. Yet, I was perplexed because “If this was the Lord, shouldn’t it not be this way?” At the same time, I was relieved to know we didn’t go against the confidence I felt in prayer. But I wasn’t expecting to get a bitter, blaming husband out of the deal.

All I could do, yet again, was pray. And this time, I didn’t use my big mouth to try and walk us out of this place we found ourselves in. God knew we needed a miraculous confirmation that it was truly Him. I was desperate. I was out of control, and I needed Jesus to step in and protect me and protect our marriage.

About a month went by, I was still hearing the regret daily. He was bemoaning the decision, and had no future prospects that gave new hope. But every day, I was praying for a breakthrough.

One Sunday morning, we were attending our local congregation at the time, and there was a woman in the back of the church crying. She was encountering the Presence of God, and my husband went to the back to check on her. As he came closer, he saw it was a woman from the church that offered him the job. She was on the hiring committee that unanimously voted to extend the offer. And now, she is in the back of the church we are attending in tears. My husband approached her, reintroducing himself, and asking if she needed prayer for anything. She shared a bit about what had happened to lead her there that morning. She was going through the Starbucks drive-thru on the way to the church she regularly attends, when she sensed strongly that God told her to attend the church we were at this morning. She was having a personal encounter with God, but as they wrapped up praying together, she said, “I knew that one day God would allow us to cross paths because I needed to tell you it wasn’t the right job for you. Everyone wanted you, and I felt pressured to vote in that direction by the committee because they needed unanimity. But as I prayed about it, it would’ve stunted you and it would not have been the right fit for your flourishing. I am glad you didn’t accept it. I want you to know, I support that decision. You made the right call.” 

My husband broke down when he realized the Presence of God had chased him down to affirm His voice. It wasn’t my thought. It wasn’t my conviction. It was God. It was His love and affection for my husband, His calling and purposes. It was God’s crazy love and blessing over our marriage — to guard us and protect us. It was prayer that positioned us for restoration and confirmation. 

God hears our prayers, wives. And a prayer for unified blessing in marriage, this is a prayer he always answers. I learned many pivotal lessons through this experience. I don’t need to control. I need to pray. 

#212. Praying Wives: Something To Live For

Photo by Jeff Rogers Photography

I married my high school sweetheart. Bob and I had known each other since first grade. I knew he had a good heart and I believed the Lord brought us together with His blessing. I was young and idealistic, full of hope and dreams for a bright future together. Fifteen years later at the age of 35, I found myself living in quiet desperation. My husband and I had good jobs. We lived on the property of a golf course where my husband was a PGA pro. Our three daughters were wonderful and a source of much joy. Yet something was wrong with our family.  Day after day, hour after hour, I was forced to deal with the fact that my husband was an alcoholic and drug addict. Oh, there were days we could hide it from the outside world. There were moments we pretended it wasn’t a fact and tried to laugh and have fun together as a family. But always in the back of my mind I was waiting for something to trigger him, to set him off and send him into erratic behavior directed toward me or the girls. We never knew when or why that would happen. Once he began to drink, his rules were the only rules in our house. He would drink all night, unable to work the next morning. Our girl’s room was the only sanctuary they had. They were afraid to invite their friends to our home because of what their daddy might say or do. Not only was his behavior awful, but his language was also worse. He didn’t care who heard what. I didn’t know how to deal with these terrible problems.

 
I remember going to a golf tournament with him. He promised me it would be a good weekend without drinking and that we would have fun together. The first night I found myself in the motel room at midnight wondering where he was. His promises had quickly been broken leaving me upset and frustrated again.  Left alone, I questioned my life, and began to talk to the Lord. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was about to come face to face with Jesus Christ in a way I had never experienced before. But before this happened, things went from bad to worse. My husband was arrested for public drunkenness and everyone in our little town knew it. He was the “town drunk.” I had accepted Christ as my Savior when I was ten years old. I have always had a deep love for the Lord. I was active in my church and when I married that continued. As each child was born, I made sure they were in church. Rarely could I get Bob to attend church with me. Mostly he would only go if the girls were in a program. When I asked him to attend, he got indignant, saying that Sunday was the busiest day of the week at a golf course and how could I expect him to be gone. I made sure the girls went even though they knew that Dad didn’t think it was worth it. 


I’ll tell you some of the things I did wrong. I wrote letters to people who had overcome the battle of alcohol. I called members of my husband’s family. I asked friends to talk to him. Five times I went to the pastor of our church but could never really tell him what was wrong. I could only sit there and cry. I got mad at Bob, went along with him, ignored the problem, and tried to reason with him. I reached out for any solution that sounded reasonable. In August of 1975, I began to feel ashamed of myself. I found that if I encouraged Bob to drink more, he would pass out sooner and I would have some peace and quiet.

 
One evening that August, Bob had finally passed out and I went to our back porch, a quiet haven for me. Everyone in the house was quiet. Outside everyone was gone and the peace and solitude that our old worn-out porch offered were just what I needed. I was physically and mentally exhausted from juggling three jobs, keeping the girls busy and having no answers. I had upset Bob that night. I don’t know what I did to upset him but when he drank it didn’t take much.  I sat down, soaked in the night noises, and sighed.  I hugged my knees and rested my head on my arms and the tears began to flow. I cried out loud and I thought about whether anyone could hear my sobs and if they did would they even care. I thought, “I am of no use to anyone.” I felt reduced to a scream, a tear, a cloudy mind. I was unable to function, a blob waiting to crawl into a hole and stay for a long time. Many other nights this same summer I had come here knowing there had to be a way out, wanting to help but just not sure what I should do. I can remember screaming on previous nights, “God, why is my life like this? What good am I to anyone? Why don’t you just let me die?” And then I would always feel so guilty because I couldn’t pull it together. I couldn’t find an answer.

 
That night in August was different. Out loud, in sobbing tones, I said, “Lord, I’m at the end of my rope. I’ve tried all I know to try. I don’t know anything else to do. If you are listening to me, please, please help me.” And at that moment my tears and sobs ceased. That shocked me. I had been sobbing so hard I was shaking, but it just stopped. I felt very warm inside and very calm. It was not a sensation I was familiar with. For the first time in an exceedingly long time, I didn’t feel alone. The Lord spoke to my heart and said, “I am with you. You can go on. It will be alright. You are my child. And you have three children to care for. I will help you.” The Lord had been waiting for me to turn it over to Him. He probably said, “Well, finally she is going to let me handle it!” At that moment, I knew everything was going to be alright. God was listening and He cared. He could see my heart and He was there. I didn’t know how everything would be alright, but I knew He was giving me strength and love to face tomorrow.  Positive thoughts began to come into my head. “I can like myself once more. I can begin to be a better mother. Our girls need me. And Bob with all his problems needs me more than ever. With God’s guidance and wisdom, I can be a good wife, the wife Bob needs me to be.” I finally gave up my problem to God and said in effect, “Lord, take over.” And He did… in more ways than I could ever imagine! The evening breeze stirred the leaves on the huge elm tree in the back yard. I suddenly was aware of the beauty around me. I stood up slowly as not to shatter this new atmosphere. I went into the house and looked in on our three girls, my heart was so full of love for them. They looked so fragile and beautiful as they lay there sleeping soundly unaware that a miracle had just taken place, one that would deeply affect their lives forever.

 
At last, I knew I must work on myself. The Lord helped me by sending a friend who invited me to a Bible study. There I began to study God’s word in a fresh way. I made my heart vulnerable to others in the Bible Study and they began to pray with me for Bob. The more I learned about the Lord, the stronger I became. I was able to exhibit a kinder spirit in my home, my emotions were more stable, and I had a wonderful hope inside knowing the Lord himself lived within me and was helping me become more than I could dream.

 
I never thought of divorcing Bob. When I looked at him, sometimes I could see the 17-year-old boy I fell in love with. I could see the gifts and talents hidden from view. I could see the man I loved to be with, to laugh with, to share with. All those things were still there, they were just hidden. One of my greatest desires was to be a good wife to him. Taking care of him made me happy. I knew without a doubt I couldn’t abandon him. I would not give up on him. With the Lord’s help, my love for Bob and a deep sense of commitment and purpose kept me going. After I realized the Lord was in control, the thought occurred to me that I might be the only one exhibiting a Christian walk in front of Bob.

 
In November of 1975, Bob was converted at an old-fashioned revival meeting in the Laurel County High School gym. The Lord took away the desire to drink immediately with no withdrawals at all. Bob took no more drugs. He was able to fellowship with fine Christians who provided encouragement and love. It took almost 2 years to work through everything we had gone through to put our marriage back together. Our daughters had a dad again. Bob went back to college and seminary at the age of 40. He started two churches in Kentucky and became a full-time evangelist whose calling was to share this story about the grace and love of our Lord. We began traveling all around the world and Bob preached and taught. We had amazing experiences and met many wonderful people.  God even used Bob’s golfing expertise to evangelize. Bob would invite men to play a round of golf with him and while they were playing, he would share his testimony and invite them to attend revivals where he would be preaching.

 
Bob preached his last revival in 2006. He passed away in 2008. My trust in God has grown so much since my husband died. As I reflect on my life, I can see now that God was guiding me all the time. He reassured me and encouraged me in the difficult first years of our marriage. He gave me an unexplainable peace even when Bob was out of control and I had no idea what to do. When I surrendered the situation to God, He worked things out in wonderful ways that were beyond anything I could imagine. God provided years of extraordinary experiences and opportunities. He sent many people to encourage us, mentor us, pray with us, and provide for our financial needs. I am deeply grateful for the wonderful people God put in our lives and the part each person played in our story. It isn’t our story at all. This story is God’s story and the glory for every step of our journey is God’s alone! 

#211. Praying Wives: There Is Nothing God Can’t Do

Photo by Jeff Rogers Photography

For much of my life, I wished for that “Damascus experience” others had described . . . a sudden insight that is overwhelming and life-changing.


It seemed to me that such a transformational moment in time would be the confirmation that Christ had truly entered in, and all things past were gone. But, instead, I was blessed (now I see it as a blessing!) with the early and constant faithfulness of God that has been revealed over and over again in my life. I now understand how God began a good work in me and has refused to let me ever get too far away from His efforts to work in me to completion.


I grew up in a Christian home. My parents were married over 50 years, before my dad passed away in 1993, way too early! I had a great childhood and was surrounded by family who instilled in my brothers and me the importance of acceptance, unconditional love, and constant support. God was always a big part of our family. We weren’t wealthy, but our family sure had everything we needed, and often what we wanted as well. My parents taught us to be grateful for our blessings, particularly for our family. As a result, I am thankful for and treasure relationships. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love deeply. I’m loyal to a fault and when I care, I really care! Although this trait has blessed me immeasurably, it also has its consequences. My depth of love can be equal to depth of grief when relationships are lost or damaged. So, along this journey, I have loved and lost but, in the end, love is always greater!


I have great memories of our church as a child. We started attending when I was four years old, and it’s the only church I have ever attended. It has always been a big part of my spiritual formation. I remember a particular night at youth group, when Jesus became much more personal for me. I made a commitment to give my life to Christ and to try my best to live my life the way God prepared for me. I have not always been an obedient child of God, but my desire has always been to do things His way.


During high school, I met a guy I dated for six years, until the summer of my senior year in college when we married. We began to live the life I had always imagined . . . the house with the white picket fence, two beautiful children, a dog and a goldfish! And then, things changed — dramatically and quickly. My husband became very ill. He was diagnosed with adult-onset type 1 diabetes. He struggled with the reality of that disease, and I found myself trying to own it for him, which was impossible and did not serve either of us well.

 
Soon after his diabetes diagnosis, he began to use alcohol in excess and became a very serious alcoholic. Alcohol and diabetes don’t mix and, as his life began to deteriorate, so did our marriage. I never imagined being divorced. In fact, my faith wouldn’t let me even consider it for a long time. But the consequences of his drinking became more than I could handle. Although my family and friends were there to love and support me, it was still very overwhelming.  I soon learned that it is in our times of desperation that we are closest to God.


About two years after my marriage ended, my ex-husband died. I was 32 years old with two children, ages five and seven. I was lost and confused, but God’s faithfulness prevailed. His grace, mercy, power and love sustained me in ways I still cannot fathom. That faithfulness has been the theme of my relationship with God. It is only when we admit that we can’t do life on our own and completely surrender to God that we experience real victory. I am a bit of a control freak — I like to do things my way — I struggle with that. But I learned that my efforts to control things were really futile. Everything always works out much better when I let God do it His way.

 
My professional life was always such a gift. I was a health and physical education teacher for 30 years and loved every minute of it. I had such incredible friends who loved and supported me throughout those first months and years of being a single mom, living on a teacher’s salary.  And, of course, like He always does, God started showing up in unbelievable ways. I began to receive unexpected income, transferred to a teaching job I had always wanted, and then — the greatest blessing happened.

 
Some good friends wanted to introduce me to a friend of theirs who they were just sure I would enjoy dating. As I began to live into my new life, I had pretty much decided that dating was out of the question. I remember they told me three things about their friend, Greg: He was a police officer (Are you kidding me?), he was pretty much committed to being a bachelor (Where can that go?), and he was almost four years younger than me (I already had two children). But they also said we had “so much in common” and insisted I meet him. I didn’t say yes or no, but they must have heard yes. A few nights later they arranged a chance meeting that changed my life forever! There he was — this tall, very handsome man in uniform. My children were with me and I remember my son ran over and said, “Man! Can I see your gun?” I thought then, “Well, this will be short-lived.” Greg laughed and didn’t seem to be scared off. Before he left, he asked if he could call me, and this time I did say yes!


Greg called me shortly after that and we started dating. We dated for a little over two years and to say it was a learning experience for both of us would be a real understatement. He had been in only two serious relationships before we met and was scared to death of commitment, especially with two children involved. I had built a secure wall around me and was at a place where I was determined to never let anyone hurt me again. That kind of gets in the way when trust is a cornerstone of any relationship! Then, God stepped in. He eased Greg’s fears, helped me tear down that very unhealthy wall (that sometimes wants to creep up again) and grew a love that has been simply amazing!


In 1985, Greg and I got married. Although neither of us had any idea how to create a new family, we began that journey together. The children had loved him from the start and within a few weeks, they asked Greg if they could call him Dad! Without hesitation he said, “Of course” and I could tell it thrilled him. They also said they didn’t like having a different last name, so we began to talk about how we could change that, too. On the Friday before Father’s Day, a precious friend of ours performed our legal adoption ceremony. The children took Greg’s name, as well as his heart, and it has been that way ever since. As I look back, I see that God was busy working, not to just repair my broken, untrusting heart, but by sending an angel to my children and me. Greg has been an incredible dad, and he is the best “Cappy” I could ever imagine to our six grandchildren.


When we met, Greg was not actively involved in the church or living out a personal relationship with Jesus but, somehow, I knew it would happen. I trusted that God would work in his life. While we were dating, he started going to church with me. We attended a Sunday school class together with people who were older than us. During that time, Greg learned a lot about prayer. I had asked for prayer for his safety and for advancement opportunities at the police department. He was uncomfortable with that because he thought God was too busy for those kinds of things. Gradually he learned just how personal God can be. Although he first went to church to please me, he soon genuinely wanted to go. Worship became an integral part of our marriage. In the midst of all that, he was searching. Without question, he believed in God and that Jesus had come for his salvation. But he hadn’t pursued a personal relationship with Christ. It was head knowledge but not a heart relationship. I prayed for that transformation and knew God would, in His time and in His way, show Greg just how much He loved him.


Around 2000, Greg went through a tough time. He was discouraged about several things and kept it to himself for a long time. I had become overly involved in leadership at church and in my career and didn’t see what I needed to see. I had not made Greg the priority I should have. There was a period when we were struggling and really had to reevaluate where we were going. During those days of difficulty, God was saying to me, “I’ve got it. I’ve got it. Just keep loving him.” And I did. During this time, my prayer was that the Lord would draw Greg to Him and that Greg would allow God to heal and comfort him. I prayed that the power of the Holy Spirit would consume him and bring him to a place of complete surrender. I also prayed to protect my heart from building walls against being hurt, to keep me in God’s arms and not to let me run ahead of where God was going with Greg. I wanted to be a partner in Greg’s journey but I also realized I couldn’t change things, only God could.

 
To no one’s surprise, God answered my prayers. One day Greg asked me what he could do that would help me. I felt like this was my opportunity to offer him the only solution I knew would work, so I asked him to go see the senior pastor at our church. He agreed and the rest is, as they say, history! They had a great conversation and prayer in the sanctuary and Greg had that “Damascus experience” I had always longed for!  He gave his life to Christ and experienced a transformation that has been remarkable to witness. (#193). This was one of those mountaintop moments in life when you realize God is so present and so faithful. When I look back to those few months of “struggling,” I see clearly what was happening. We live in the midst of a spiritual battle in this very lost and broken world. As a result, there are times when the enemy especially targets us. It’s usually when we are doing something pretty right or when we are very vulnerable. In our case this battle became real when we had allowed our relationship to become vulnerable. Satan saw our vulnerability as an opportunity to do his evil work. As we both stepped back and let God take control, He stepped in and squashed it.


I was born to be Greg’s wife. I have no doubt about that. I also know I was born to be the mother of our two amazing children, even though they came to me first. Right now, it’s hard to reconcile those two things but I know someday God will make it perfectly clear! Greg often says I am the reason he became a Christian, but that’s not exactly accurate. It was God’s pursuit and Greg’s surrender that allowed for his salvation. But I will say I sure did want him to know and trust Jesus. After Greg surrendered his life to the Lord, our journey together took off like a rocket ship. He became the spiritual leader in our family and we were real partners in marriage, parenting and everything else God put in our path. God has given us incredible empty nest years with Greg leading and teaching me. Something I really cherish is when we pray together. At first, we would simply ask one another how we could pray for the day ahead. We have continued that practice and the majority of our mornings we begin our day in prayer, thanking God for this incredible life He has given us and asking Him to use us to bring others into relationship with Him.

 
About 15 years ago we went through a health scare when Greg was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It’s a story of God’s powerful healing love. During that time neither of us had the first fear that things wouldn’t be okay. When he received the cancer diagnosis, the first thing we did was get on our knees and pray. Then and always, prayer has been the wind beneath our wings. We have trusted God with our lives in every way. 


Recently God has led us to prison ministry leadership roles. It has been a remarkable experience, one that neither of us could have imagined. We know that like every other “leading,” if we get out of the way, God will be faithful to do His good work in and through us for the glory of His Kingdom. It’s our privilege to watch Him work! Praise God from whom all blessing flow!


When I stand back and look at the life God has given me, it is truly incredible. His faithfulness has been the theme of my life. There is nothing God cannot do. He is so good and so big and so willing to bless us, if we are willing to receive God’s blessing. 

In my life, I have found my favorite verse of Scripture to be true:For I can do everything through Christ,who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13). 

#188. Listening To God

 

Photo by Jeff Rogers Photography

I grew up in a loving family. We went to church every Sunday morning. I am one of three children, all girls. I went away to attend college and became a nurse. I moved back after 10 years to be closer to my family. Family is so precious to me. I have been working as a nurse for 21 years. 

Jody was really more of an acquaintance than a friend. We grew up in the same county but attended different high schools. I knew of him in high school because he was a great basketball player and was well known for that. Years later when we both had daughters about the same age, I was the coach of a softball team his daughter played on. We had some conversations during that time, but we were still more of acquaintances. We are friends on Facebook, and I noticed that he had made some comments that he was having some decline in his health. The comments were a bit vague, but as a nurse I picked up that he wasn’t doing well health-wise.

I sent a message, telling him that I was praying for him and that I hoped things were getting better. He sent back a nice thank you. Maybe a week or so later he made a comment that a friend or two had tried to be a kidney donor and hadn’t matched. It clicked with me then that he had chronic kidney disease. As a nurse, I have taken care of people on dialysis and have seen the terrible effects of chronic kidney disease.

I remember after reading his Facebook message, I was lying in bed resting from a shift at work. The thought came to me—it was like running into a wall—“Why are you just praying for him? Why can’t you do something more?” I know God put that thought there. “Why stop with praying?” I thought of his three young daughters. I am one of three daughters, and I can’t image having grown up without my dad or having him so ill he couldn’t have participated in my life in a meaningful way. I just kept having the thought, “You can do more than just pray.” I knew that God wanted me to do more than just pray for those girls and his wife. I needed to do what I could to make sure they had their husband and their dad. 

I reached out to Jody and told him I would like to do more and asked him who to contact. He was hesitant. Then a couple of weeks later, I reached out again and again said, “I would really like to do more.” He then gave me the information about contacting the transplant coordinator at the hospital. Interestingly, even though the transplant coordinator works for a big university hospital many miles away, he also grew up in our county. I contacted him and they mailed me a packet of questionnaires, which I filled out and sent back. Later the coordinator called me and let me know that I was ready to move to the next step. After that was the blood work and urine test to make sure I was healthy enough to donate my kidney. There were no maybes or buts. Everything was perfect. The initial bloodwork was done in February to see if I could proceed, and it appeared that I was a perfect match. I believe it was God ordained. During this time, there was a lot of time for me to reflect. I think we all go through a time of wondering what our purpose is. I believe every turn in my life journey led to me to give my kidney. I felt a complete peace about it. I had no hesitation, no worries. I gave up drinking soda and taking ibuprofen to make sure the kidney I was going to donate would be as healthy as possible. I believed at the time that God would take care of me and He has taken care of me. 

In April I had to go to the hospital to meet with a social worker for a mental evaluation and more physical tests like an EKG and chest X-ray and more blood work to make sure I was still that perfect match. I talked to the transplant coordinator. You have to have specific markers in your blood that match. The more markers that match the greater the chance the transplant will be accepted. The whole process was like rolling down a 100-mile highway with no potholes, no red lights, and nobody breaking in front of you. You just go. 

In July, 10 days before our surgery, Jody and I both had appointments with the surgeon. We met with him separately but were in the waiting room at the same time. That was the first time I had seen Jody since he had been on dialysis. It weighed on my heart that he didn’t look well and reconfirmed my decision to give him my kidney. There was a kind Christian woman in the waiting room who had given her kidney three weeks prior to her dad. Remarkably, she was also from our county. It was as if God was providing people all along the way to make us feel more comfortable with the process. The woman was very helpful. She filled me in on what to expect, which was a blessing to me. 

Our surgeries were on a Thursday. There was a wall between our bays in pre-op. They took me back first. When they were getting ready to take me back to the operating room they said, “He is beside of you.” I asked if I could see him, and they rode my stretcher to him. We linked hands (my sister and me and Jody and his wife) and he said a prayer. They offered anxiety medicine before taking me back, but I refused it. At no time did I have anxiety. We had to wait on the surgeon for 15 minutes after I got into the operating room, and even then, I had no nervousness. I was calm. Even when I woke up afterward, I messaged a friend to see if she wanted to go for a run. I walked to Jody’s room and went in to see him. My whole family was so supportive throughout the process. My mom brought two balloons to the hospital. Jody’s balloon said, “It’s a girl!” 

It has been a little over two years out now. I am wonderful and have had no problems. I continue to donate blood on a regular basis and keep an eye on my blood pressure which has been fine. I have had no ill effects from it and I don’t intend to have any ill effects.  

In September, Jody preached a sermon in a church in our county. I attended the service and Jody looked so healthy. I would do it all again in a heartbeat. I try to encourage people to be organs donors while they are still alive, and they will actually see the benefit that the recipient gets from it. I get to see that now. People knew Jody for his basketball, but he is so much more than that. He means so much to so many people. I get to see that joy is restored in his household and with his friends and in his church. He is back to doing the things he loves like golfing, things that the disease had taken away from him. I get to relish in his joy, and this a great gift. His youngest daughter turned six today, and she has her daddy here for her birthday. 

I try to encourage people to not doubt what God puts on their hearts and to be willing to listen. We can ask God to speak to us, but we have to listen to God and not doubt that He will take care of us. If I never receive another blessing from Him, I couldn’t ask for any better earthly life than what He has provided for me. 

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13 

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.

#182 Unceasing Prayer

 

Photo by Jeff Rogers

My father passed away when I was four years old, leaving my mother who didn’t have a job or even a driver’s license. She remarried and I had a great relationship with my stepfather. He was such a humble and serving man. He taught me how to really serve people. My mother’s family was of the Old Regular Baptist faith. Her father was a deacon. My mother wasn’t a Christian but she attended church. As a child, I didn’t understand what was being said in church, and when they prayed, I slipped out to play in the creek.

I met my wife when I was in kindergarten. We married after I graduated from college with a degree in civil engineering and mining engineering. Early in our marriage, my wife was a Christian but I wasn’t. She tried to get me to go to church and I went occasionally, but I wasn’t committed. Each morning on my way to work I dropped off my two aunts to work at the Five and Dime. One morning, my Aunt Silvy said, “We are having a revival at church and you are coming.” April 15, 1986, I attended the revival with my wife. As the evangelist preached, I felt the Holy Spirit urging me to follow Christ. I was baptized the next night. My mother was present. She had never made a profession of faith and she wasn’t happy with me.

I started actively serving at the church, first teaching the fifth-grade Sunday school, then sixth, then seventh and eighth grade classes. Our youth classes exploded. We had a fantastic time with the kids.

About a year after I became a Christian, I lost my job. We had just purchased our first home. We signed the mortgage on our new home on a Friday and that Monday I got laid off. I told my wife, “God will provide. I know He will.” Two days later, on Wednesday morning, I got a phone call out of the blue from a guy who used to be my former basketball coach. “I just lost my engineer. I need a new engineer. Do you know where I can find one?” I said, “I think I do!” I started the new job the following Monday. We were faithful in our service and God continued to provide.

Eventually the coal company I worked for was bought out by another large coal company and they only kept two people. I was one of the two.

I was very grateful to keep my job. About a year later, the chief engineer at the coal mine left and they asked me to do this job. I worked every Saturday for a year. I finally took a Saturday off to get my wife something for Christmas and my boss called and said, “Where are you?! I need to talk to you. The VP of operations is leaving and I want you to take on that role.” I agreed and did both for about a year, serving as both chief engineer and head of operations, requiring 10 to 12 hours every day. I was still teaching the youth and serving as a deacon at church. My excessive work schedule was really hard on my wife and particularly for my oldest child who was around seven at the time. My wife was busy with our two youngest who were babies, and I was always working. I came home every night overwhelmed and exhausted but not to the extent my wife was. She is a great mother and wonderful wife, always being there for our children while I was away. I am a very fortunate and blessed man!

The president of the company was a very hard boss. He was hard on me. But he taught me a lot. He called himself a sinner man, but there was still an influence of God at our company. He cared about the men and their families and understood the importance of a good job to support their families. In 2001, my boss retired and I was asked to become president of the company. I went from being responsible for a couple of people to 348 people. Two years later, the coal business tanked and our parent company claimed bankruptcy. The market was so bad that we couldn’t sell the coal. A new CEO reorganized the company and took the company public, which gave us the funds to help us out of bankruptcy. After the reorganization, I was asked to take over a second location for the company and then was responsible for a little over 800 employees. In 2013, the market declined again and the company filed bankruptcy and split up, but I was allowed to stay on by the new company that acquired our company. All employees were laid off except about 40 people, but within a few months we were able to hire people back. Then in 2016, we were unable to stay open. I had to tell the men that I couldn’t give them any hope of a future at the company. That was the hardest day of my life.

I received six month’s pay from the company, and after that a different company put me on retainer as a consultant, and when they no longer needed me, a friend provided some work which provided health insurance. I have continued to ask the Lord what He would like me to do in this new season of my life, and while I sometimes find it hard to wait for the answer, I have experienced joy in the unknown. I am at peace and know that God’s got it. I am just open to wherever and whatever the Lord leads me to. In the meantime, God is allowing me some down time, and I have been able to spend time with my wife (we are going on 36 years of marriage), our three sons, and grandchildren. God has blessed me beyond measure, and I am so grateful.

I recently started teaching a young adult class at church. I encourage them to get out and take what they have learned and apply it out of the church walls. I tell new Christians, “God has a calling on your life, but you have to keep seeking and you will find what God wants you to do. Wherever you are, you can have an impact. You just have to love people.”

Several years ago, my stepdad passed away. At his funeral, my mother made a decision to follow Christ. She was 64 years old. I had been praying for her since 1986. I prayed for her every day that God would touch her life. Never give up praying for someone you care about. Never give up.

I also prayed for my boss (who called himself “sinner man”) and many of the men who worked at the coal company. I prayed that the Lord would touch their lives too. I would tell the men, “We have this in common: we are put on this earth by our heavenly Father to love each other and help each other and take care of our families.” Many men came to know Christ during their time at the mine. And then one day, I got a call from a friend who said my old boss had accepted the Lord. I saw him later and hugged him, “I’m so happy for you.” He said, “I guess you heard. You were right. It does make a difference in your life.” I told him, “I’m a sinner man too. But the Lord takes our sins and they are covered and forgiven.” I told him that I had prayed for him for years. Never give up praying for someone you care about. Never give up.

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.

#161 In Awe of the Light

Photo by Brianna Rapp

When I was 21 I did something that I felt I had to do, something that I regretted the moment I did it. Afterward, every aspect of my life was shaken, and not one moment went by that I did not feel the repercussions in my mind, body, spirit, and every relationship of what I had done.

It was not until seven years later that I went to confession. The priest was so kind to me. I felt so liberated after praying the prayers he instructed me to pray and felt encouraged to talk to God. Now the gate was open.

A few months later at work in the hospitality industry, I was walking from the back toward the cafe counter via the seating area, and I saw a tall man of about nearly seven feet in a suit with neck-length, wavy hair talking to another man. I noticed him, not for any particular reason, but as I was walking past them I felt this man look at me—not in the way we normally look at people but as though he were looking at me through his spirit, and I felt him touch my heart.

As I walked to the barista counter, a latte came up with the docket number four. I turned, and there he was, sitting facing my direction with a black number four waving me in. I walked, looking perhaps a little embarrassed because of what I had felt;after all, this was just a man. But as I walked toward him he looked straight at me and said, “I believe you’re looking for me.” As I placed the coffee down on the table, I replied gently,“Yes, and I found you.” Although I did not look up at him, the power in that moment was magnetic; I felt like someone wanted to get to know me, wanted to talk to me, wanted to make me smile.

I walked away, did another round of clearing tables, and came back out. He was not there, but had left a half-finished latte. And as I approached our barista and asked him if he saw the man at table number four, he confidently said, “Nope.”

That day will live with me always. I know there is no physical evidence of who this man was, but it happened for a reason. I knew what he was saying and what the experience was saying to me. I was so inspired by this moment that I started reading true stories and testimonies of encounters with God, stories of miracles that have resonated with my spirit.

One day I lay on my bed, and spoke to God as though I were speaking to my friend—freely, without discipline in my words, and with no restraint, just purely myself. I fell asleep, and during that sleep He let me see something that is now burned into my mind and heart forever. I heard a voice—a deep, kind,trustworthy voice. In that moment, I did not know who it was, but I felt completely at ease. He said my name. I was in awe of the light I saw. It started off as a small circle like the sun and then grew bigger, slightly changing color in each domain,getting brighter and brighter until it filled my eyes. It was stunning. But that was not the best part. It was what I felt. He was pleased. Happy. Elated. I could feel how much He loves me, how much He loves the world—and it was breathtaking. No earthly pleasure could come close. I then woke up.

Now my soul isn’t as heavy and unbearable anymore. All I did was something simple: I reached out my hand, and in return He granted me His Kingdom.

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.

#159 Posture of Dependency

 Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

My wife and I married in December of 1996. Having a family was very important to us and we both desired to have multiple children. I got a new job around the time we got married. Toward the end of 1997 we started trying to have a child. We tried for seven to eight months but couldn’t get pregnant. After several tests the doctor told my wife, “I think you are infertile and won’t be able to get pregnant without some help.” We weren’t sure how we felt about that. We decided to pray and seek the Lord’s counsel. We had received this news from the doctor on Friday, and on Sunday the church elders prayed for us. We prayed and fasted our first meal of the day for a week. The next Sunday the elders prayed with us again. Monday morning my wife took a pregnancy test and it was positive. We got another pregnancy test and it was positive! We called the doctor and he said, “You all need to come in. This is strange.” He pulled out her chart and said in his 20-plus years in practice, my wife was the first person he had not given a pregnancy test to. He did a pregnancy test then and she was seven weeks pregnant! She had actually been pregnant at our last visit with him when he told us he thought she was infertile and needed help getting pregnant! We didn’t see this as the doctor’s error. We saw this as God taking us through a journey of faith. He wanted us to decide if we could trust Him with our decisions.

Around this time, I was starting my work as a minister and we had little funds. During the summer when my wife was pregnant, we had two cars and one broke down. It was not fixable and my job required travel. We knew having just one car was not going to work but we didn’t have the money to buy a car. My mom had access to the Federal Credit Union and we secured a loan there. We had 30 days to get the car. But I was uneasy about it. I felt like we needed to trust God. I asked, “Lord, is this another opportunity to trust you?” On the last day for us to buy the car under the terms of the loan, my mom called and asked if we were going to get the loan. I told her no. This was August.

Our baby was born November 13 and still no car. Three days after she was born, I received a phone call saying there was a car available if I wanted it. The only stipulation was that I had to drive to Birmingham, Alabama and play a round of golf with the man who was donating the car. It was a Ford Taurus, and we had it for years. That was in 1998. We moved in 2003, and one day when I was driving home from work I had a wreck and totaled the car. That car had been used by missionaries and had been used to lead several guys to Christ. I sent a message letting people know the car was totaled and telling the story of the car—how we got it and how the car had been used for ministry. Within 30 minutes we had two offers to replace the car!

Getting the car was another way for us to see God and trust Him. We were starting a new ministry and I think God was fostering in those early experiences a posture of dependency of being able to trust Him. This has helped us to trust Him in other things over the years. Those experiences were foundational for us. We know that God is trustworthy and we are so thankful for His continued care throughout the years.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7

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.

#157 All Things Are Possible

 Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

One Sunday, I met a new friend after service. He was sitting down waiting to chat, so I didn’t realize anything was wrong with his body. As we prayed, he explained the emptiness in his heart. I shared about the love of Jesus and he gave his life to Christ. Peace, love and joy flooded him! He then told me a story about his health. Five years ago, during back surgery, he had been left with constant pain that was a 10 on a 10 scale. The surgeon had nicked a nerve, making his left foot drag. Due to difficulties with pain meds, he chose not to take them. In the process of adopting two small children, he underwent yet another back surgery and had seven spinal fusions. His mobility was severely limited, but he was still convinced that God was going to heal him. I called my teammates over, and as we prayed, the pain decreased in half, then decreased again, and then was gone! He stood up to walk around, and his foot started coming back to life. As he walked, more motion came back. We stood and talked for a bit, which he had been unable to do without excruciating pain for years!! He wept with gratitude, joy, and relief. There were lots of tears all around. Praise Jesus! He came back to our meeting the next day and shared his testimony. He was able to bend and reach past his knees and had been on the floor playing with his kids all afternoon. He came back the next day and was able to reach down and touch his toes, which, with seven spinal fusions, is impossible. As Jesus said in Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” I pray the same way when people are healed as when they aren’t. It’s a mystery to me why sometimes miracles occur and sometimes they take more time. But I’ll keep praying, believing, and celebrating the beauty of what only He can do. Our God is a healer, He is good, and He loves to restore. Yay Jesus!

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.