Unbelievable!

Last Thursday was an unbelievable day. Yes in the midst of the US election chaos and the ongoing criss of Covid our God is busy storming the gates of hell. Thursday was a gift of heaven’s hope igniting my little faith and giving great anticipation for what’s ahead for Christ’s Kingdom.

The day started out as normal. I had asked a friend Johan to help me navigate buying tires here in South Africa. Johan founded an amazing ministry in a local township for at risk preschoolers and he will be teaming up with Oceans this year. I will share more about this in a future blog.

As we were leaving the tire store Johann asked me to drive to a ministry called the NET that works with homeless. The night before he had emailed and asked if it was ok for a man I will call Ricky to come to the Retreat Center to do some work. Johann had received some money from a friend and both he and his wife felt strongly they should ask Ricky to do the work.

Ricky had been in and out of prison as he was a part of one of the most violent gangs in the area. Several months ago I was asked to speak to a group from the NET and Ricky was there. When I shared about God being a loving Father as seen in the gift of Christ, he quickly blurted out, “Don’t believe it, I’m a Muslim!” Which put a damper on the rest of the talk.

Then on the day Oceans sponsored free coffee at Stag Ricky walked by while I was in the shop. He looked bad and I noticed his arm was bleeding, he was in a dark place. I offered him a coffee and asked if I could pray with him, to my surprise he said, “Please pastor!” My words and prayer seemed so inadequate as he said, “Thanks,” and walked away.

So here we are driving to the NET to see if Ricky may be there. I said to Johann, “I’m not sure we will find him there, but we can give it a shot.” Any guess to who was the first person we saw? (Oh Tim of little faith). As Johann went to tell the director we were there, Ricky ran over to me and the first words out of his mouth were, “Pastor you need to lead me to salvation in Jesus!” Can I say, “Shock!” During my extended pause he went on to say, how that morning he picked up the Bible he got in prison and was reading it. As he was pondering the Word and a devotional he was given the thought came to him, “I need to find someone to lead me to Christ today and start a new life!” I proceeded to tell him how this is a Divine set up, only God could have put this all together, he smiled and replied, “Yes pastor!”

Johann joined us and together we shared about the way of salvation and the journey of following Jesus. So since our beaches are closed due to Covid we got a pitcher of water and surrounded by some of his friends he confessed Jesus as His Lord and Savior and was baptized. As we welcomed him into the family of God, the tears flowed and joyful hugs followed, yes unbelievable!!!

I know these are crazy days, but I hope this story encourages you. Every time I think about it I shake my head in awe of the Sovereign ways of God. He is moving and in the business of doing the unbelievable.   Jesus declared that He would have victory over the darkest strong holds of the enemy and nothing can stop His Sovereign take over of the world.

“I will build my church and the gates of hell will not stand against it,” Mt. 16:18.

Hang on to His promises and believe the unbelievable!

 

 

Trust My Hand!

Some times you just need to hear some mighty miracle stories. We were sharing some these on Tuesday at our weekly prayer time when Andre’ and Nicole, a couple who reside at Oceans Retreat Center, shared an amazing story.

A few friends from church had invited Andre’ and Nicole to run or walk down a  nearby beautiful coastal road. As the two of them joined the walk group they were taking their time enjoying the breath-taking beauty. That’s when they noticed a woman standing on a cliff below them looking like she was getting ready to jump. They quickly rushed down to get as close as they could to her and asked if she was ok, she wasn’t, in fact she was getting ready to hurl her body off the cliff to the rocks below.

As much as she begged them to leave-they would not-they continued to talk with her, pray, and called a local paramedic service. When the paramedic’s arrived they descended on a rope to the edge of the cliff, grabbed her, and with Andre’s help returned this woman to safety. Andre’ had instinctively grabbed her hand and as he did so, he commented that, “he felt God’s presence and weeped with the lady.”

God’s Sovereign Hand was all over this miracle. Throughout our prayer time I  had a picture in my mind of Andre’s big strong hand holding the hand of this older woman who had lost all hope. What a description of Father God, who holds us and cries with us when things are at our darkest. I opened my Bible to Isaiah 41:13 and read it to the group:

“For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

What a Father! One who will never let His children go. After prayer Andre and I went to get some coffee at Stag’s I wanted to hear more. As I was buying the coffee Andre picked up one of the Bible verses which are available for customers to take and be blessed by as they sip their coffee.  And guess what the Bible verse was? Yep! Isaiah 41:13. What an amazing God!

But the story doesn’t end there. Nicole and Andre’ were able to visit the lady they helped.  Nicole bought some flowers and a card and included the scripture verse with Isaiah 41:13 in it and they headed to her house. When she opened the door she was overjoyed to see them as hope was returning. They listened to her story, prayed with her, and a new friendship was birthed.

In a time when the invisible hand of fear seems to be dragging many into darkness and despair, it is good for us to be reminded of the Father’s Hand that will never let go of His Children, even when hope can seem lost. Jesus, the visible Hand of the Father said:

“My Sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, no one can snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father’s hand…” (John 10:28-29).

As we begin 2021, hear your Father say, “Trust my Hand, I won’t ever let go!”