Do You Believe in Miracles?

Josh (the paramedic) & Steve Budnack

In a world bombarded with negative news it is vital for us to hear stories of God’s miraculous intervention. Steve Budnack’s life has been an amazing blessing to so many people over the years. He loves his family deeply, cares for the poor and needy as a full time volunteer leading Parker Task Force an amazing food bank in Parker Colorado. He has been a true friend & prayer partner to me as well as serving on the board of Oceans Ministries International in South Africa. I’m praising the LORD that Steve is still with us today and I asked him to share his story to encourage you to keep putting your life in the hands of the faithful Savior Jesus Christ.

I had just finished a 3 ½ mile run and came home for lunch. At that moment it felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest.  I subconsciously knew what was happening however, I didn’t want to believe it was happening to me. My daughter noticed that I was having chest pains and “Googled” heart attacks to try and see if what was happening could be serious. She read off the symptoms to me and with each symptom I mentally checked off each box, my worst nightmare was coming true. I was having a heart attack. 

If I was at home by myself I would have fought the pain longer before probably driving myself to the hospital, which would have been fatal. Thankfully I wasn’t alone, and instead I had my daughter call 911 and the paramedics were at my house in minutes. The smartest decision that I ever made was to have my child call 911 instead of driving to the hospital. It took the paramedics only 10 minutes to get me to the hospital and they began working on me immediately. A staff of ten were waiting for me at the hospital which was a blessing because I went into cardiac arrest. Once again, if I would have driven myself, I would not have made it.

The day after my heart attack I was still in the hospital and a couple of emergency room employees stopped by my room to let me know that while I was in cardiac arrest, they lost me for 12 seconds. They told me that the heart attack I had was the “Widow Maker” with 100% blockage and only a small percentage of individuals survive this type of heart attack. The cardiologist came by and said that I was extremely fortunate to still be here, and she had hope that I still should be able to live a long life. She mentioned that my toughest obstacle was dealing with the fact that I’m still alive after having a widow maker and being gone for that short period of time.

I truly believe that one of the reasons that the ambulance got me to the hospital in such a short amount of time was that when they were loading me in, I advised the medic that I had five children and to keep me alive. The reason why I mention this now after my heart attack is that one of the paramedics, Josh, stopped by my house to check on me this week. When he had gotten to the house the day of the heart attack and realized how bad of shape I was, him and the other paramedic really pushed the limits on getting me to the hospital because they knew I had children. 65 minutes is all it took from when Josh’s crew came to my home and to when I was out of surgery. That was a key to why I’m still here.

I’m still trying to work through how I survived. I truly believed it was a miracle and that God has bigger plans for me. I would like to thank everyone for their prayers, I definitely needed them and could feel the love.  

“I love the LORD because He hears and answers my prayers. Because He bends down and listens I will pray as long as I have breath! Death had its hands around my throat…Then I called on the name of the LORD ‘Please save me!’ How kind the LORD is! How good He is! So merciful, this God of ours!” Psalm 116:1-4.

The Miracle of a Coffee Shop

Kegan & Venus

Coffee shops have been a big part of ministry for me the last several years. From writing blogs, books, sermons as well as countless conversations and divine appointments have transpired around a hot cup of cappuccino. So a few weeks back as I was weed eating the yard at Oceans Retreat Center I was thinking about coffee. Specifically, about a coffee shop a block away called Stag.

It closed during lockdown and I heard it was not reopening. Stag, not only had great coffee, but an amazing mission to be Jesus to whom ever came through the door. The first time I visited I received a Scripture verse served to me with my coffee and my heart and business were won over. In fact, when our first teams arrived from the States I promptly pointed them to my favorite place in Fish Hoek.

In the midst of the noisy weed eater I had a strong impression that I needed to reach out to the owners of Stag. Maybe just to thank them for their witness to the city and the kind and loving service to our friends from the states, especially my mom & stepdad who hung out there every day sometimes twice a day when they came out for the dedication of Oceans Retreat Center.

A few day later I was in Stag with the owners Peter & Ellen Doyle and Kegan Haakonsen, ORC’s manger. We had a great conversation about using business as missions to the city and they asked as well about the vision of Oceans. Peter & Ellen have amazing Kingdom hearts and created an atmosphere of warmth, love, and peace at Stag Coffee but sensed the LORD moving them on to others ventures. They shared that they were looking into helping their former manger Venus start a small coffee take away across the street and were in the process of moving out of their present location.

I always dreamed of being a part of a coffee shop and using it as a place to do ministry as well as provide jobs. But how could we ever do it when everything has come to a screeching halt. We said our goodbyes and wished them well. The next morning I received a long email from Peter describing in detail the assists of their business and this note below:

Well, a lot happened after you left.  Ellen and I spoke.  We met with Venus and we went to view the other property across the road.  We chatted some more.  I contacted our landlord again to see if the Stag premises have been rented out yet and they replied “no”.  We spoke some more to Venus and she would love to work with you on some basis.  I had come to the shop this morning with my tools all ready to start dismantling the shop, starting with the coffee machine, but meeting you gave us pause for thought.  Our desire has always been to have a coffee shop that is a community hub that also reaches people with the Gospel; including our staff.  A vision that you seem to share.  We have had some success, but it seems to have come to stop, for a variety of reasons, this year.  We would love it if you could continue with our shared vision.

Wow! I thought, and continued reading on….. “Business Sale PRICE:  We thought about asking One Dollar U$ or a better offer?”

What? Only God could have orchestrated such a miracle in the midst of a world wide pandemic through the amazing generosity of Peter & Ellen. After much prayer, discussion with friends, Oceans board and staff at ORC we sensed we needed to say yes and trust Him as we move forward. We felt Kegan would be a great fit with his gifts to run it and own it. Oceans would financially assist to help get it started and come along side with volunteers who can help live into the vision of a community hub that reaches people with the Gospel.

I pray that this miracle story of a coffee shop for $1 may encourage you to believe in a Good Father who can do more than we could ever hope or imagine even in the most difficult times. Please keep Kegan, Venus & Oceans in your prayers as we step into a new Kingdom size task and that our Abba Father would receive all the glory!

Now glory be to God! By His mighty power at work within us, He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. May He be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21.

What is the Church to do?

40 Days on the Mountain!

blog by Patty Spykstra

The last several blogs have been highlighting wedding celebrations; such joyous occasions in the midst of these days. Tim and I recently had our anniversary and I couldn’t help recalling how we started out living in a one-bedroom place, with few belongings, in a new location and unknown plans for the future, yes full circle.

Our life here in South Africa residing at Oceans Retreat Center reminded me of those early years of marriage 33 years ago. Today-as way back in the 80’s-the roadmap we thought we had in place didn’t quite go as planned. When COVID arrived, once again our plans were rerouted. As flights shut down, work shut down, people came down with the virus; fear and uncertainty abounded throughout the world.

As a staff we busied ourselves with projects: painting, sewing curtains, yard work, cleaning, paperwork, policies and procedures. Ministry was adjusted to providing for those in need of food and to supporting other ministries and pastors in the area. We continued our weekly staff and prayer meetings. Each of us varied by the day how we dealt with COVID and then it struck us: perhaps God was calling us to 40 days of prayer, and perhaps since we already had several copies of Climbing Prayer Mountain and the author happened to live on campus, perhaps God was prompting us to journey into His presence, for such a time as this. So that is what we did!

Today marks Day 102 of lockdown and the conclusion of 40 days of Climbing Prayer Mountain. As a staff we met twice a week and then were blessed to have Mike and Dawn joined us via technology on Thursdays. What a powerful time we experienced together, gathering to study and pray. We sat in the Compass Room with Elsie’s Peak in full view on sunny days, and on rainy days we wore our jackets and were surrounded by clouds. We gleamed spiritual truths from Moses, Elijah, Jesus, and Peter and John.  These men at one time sat atop Mt. Herman, known as the Mt. of Transfiguration, and encountered the glorious presence and power of Almighty God!

Finding Prayer Mountain Anywhere, Day 37 speaks of John, the disciple who witnessed miraculous signs and wonders as a follower of Jesus. Now many years later he continues to face hardships, spending his last years locked-up and separated from his people. Despite his circumstances he continued to travel the path of Prayer Mountain with a heart and spirit of prayer. John learned that interceding with the Father could happen anytime and anywhere, no matter how bleak or uncertain the situation. His prayers and worship opened up the heavens and brought him revelations of Jesus as the victorious King who was, and is and will forever rule all creation. What a testimony to us in these days!

Take heart! We too can transform this lockdown lifestyle into a place of praise and worship as we seek the face of our Father God and encounter King Jesus our forever victory!

“I am the Alpha and the Omega – the beginning and the end,” say the Lord God. “I am the One who is, who always was, and who is still to come, the Almighty One,” (Rev. 1:8).