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Reach out, each day
a book of experiences in ministry
You might ask, “What does that mean?” I would love to explain what it means to me.
A few years ago I was attending a Bible study at the home of my friend, Diane Tenty. She is an excellent leader. As she passed out the study guide to each of us, she said we would each need a copy of The Prayer of Jabez, written by Dr. Bruce Wilkerson with David Kopp. She suggested we should be prepared for our lives to change as we read and studied the book during the next six weeks.
I, quite frankly, could not imagine how a little tiny book like that could change my life. It is only about 5x6 inches, which is not very thick. However, I discovered if God wants us to learn something it doesn’t matter how He decides to lead us. I admit I am a little bit thick headed so I was in for a big surprise.
The first night she handed a postcard to each of us that contained the bible verses that tell the story of the prayer of Jabez. Only two verses--that’s all. She then explained to us that as the Lord answered Jabez’ request, our ministry territory could expand in various ways if we adhere to Jabez’s request.
And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.
And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.
When I returned home that first evening, I taped the postcard to my bathroom mirror. This reminded me each morning to read the verses as though it was my own personal prayer.
We were all amazed as we returned to study group the next week. Each of us had a story to tell!
At that time in my life I was working for the State of California fire department. I worked at a conservation camp run by the Department of Forestry and Department of Corrections.
We had inmates who were trained to fight the fires all over California and I was often assigned to an incident base camp as a finance person.
During the first week after our study group meeting I was assigned to an incident, responsible for setting up an office in a hotel in Northern California.
At around 9:00am I headed down to the breakfast room to get a cup of coffee. I heard a heated conversation between a customer and the maid who was trying to clean up and put the food away. He was becoming quite loud, insisting she leave the food until he could get some for himself. In broken English, she tried to make him understand it was time for her to clean up, but he continued to argue. She was becoming frightened.
I had a very strong feeling I should try to calm him down. I walked in closer and asked the maid to give him a few minutes. She seemed so happy that someone was going to take over the problem, she just started backing out of the room!
As I began talking to him, I realized he was very upset with the man who had hired him to come to California to speak at a conference. There was a disagreement between them. He was saying what he would like to do to the guy, etc.
When he mentioned God, I knew I could remind him that as Christians we know we are supposed to always try to do what Jesus would do if He were here.
I reached over and laid my hand on his shoulder.
Suddenly, I felt something like a electric shock run from my shoulder all the way down my arm to his shoulder. He immediately became calm and apologized for causing a problem. After a moment, he thanked me for taking the time to listen to his problem. He looked down to my belt where my cell phone was clipped on and asked if he could borrow it to call and talk to the man he was angry with. I handed it to him and waited while he made the call.
Later that day I saw him again and he hurried over to me, thanking me again for helping him. I said, “Just remember, we are Gods children and we must care for and help each other whenever we can.
He replied, “I was just down town and saw what looked like a homeless guy, who told me he was really hungry. I took him into a café and bought him something to eat. It felt really good to help another person who was in trouble”
I could hardly wait to get back to our bible study to tell everyone about my Jabez appointment!!!
As the six weeks passed, we continued to feel God was leading us into situations where we could help others in some way.
I find that most people just need someone to care enough to listen to what is happening in their life.
My friend, Anna, and I were sitting in the airport in San Francisco, waiting to board our plane for New Jersey. It was my very first, “real”, speaking engagement. New Jersey! Wow! I had never been there before and was pretty excited about it. Talk about God enlarging my territory! From speaking in front of my friends at a Women’s retreat fifty miles from home to traveling across country to speak at a church-- having no idea how many people might attend.
I had just published my third book, Water to Wine, 2 Fish to a Feast when I received a phone call from one of the contributors who shared a story for the book. She asked if I would consider coming to her church in New Jersey to speak about my book and share my testimony, as well as, singing a few songs.
As we sat waiting for time to board the plane, I noticed a family sitting across the aisle; a man, woman and a child. The woman was trying very hard to keep her child from seeing the tears falling down her cheeks.
I thought it somewhat strange, and had a very strong feeling that I needed to talk to her. How in the world could I just walk over there and intrude in their family space? I continued to feel as though I was being “pushed” toward her.
Then the father rose up from his seat, took the child by the hand and walked away. I said, “Anna, I have to go and see what is wrong with that woman. She just seems so disturbed and maybe in need of a woman to talk with. I have to go while her husband is gone.” Anna, of course, said, “Go girl!”
I walked over, sat down right next to the woman and said, “I noticed you seem really upset and wondered if I might be able to help.” She replied, “I am just absolutely torn apart. I am divorced from my child’s father and he is living in another state now. The court ordered me to fly her to him for visitation. I can’t stand to send her alone on that plane, but can’t afford to travel with her. It is just breaking my heart to hand her over to the airline attendants. This is my baby!”
I told her I knew exactly how she was feeling. I said, “When my youngest daughter was about ten years old, she got angry with me and wanted to go and live with her dad in the next town. The day I drove her to his home, I was so heartbroken I could not drive myself back home. I drove about a mile away and stopped my car at a friend’s home and cried until there were no tears left”
I asked her if we could pray together for her to have peace about this new phase of her life and she said, “Oh yes, I would love that”. I put my arms around her and asked God to give her peace and wisdom to continue through her situation. As we finished praying, her husband and child walked back up and sat down and I returned to my seat.
The airline personnel began calling for boarding to begin and the couple walked up and kissed their baby girl goodbye, returning to their seats to watch the plane leave.
Anna and I got in line and as we were handing our boarding passes to the attendant, Anna motioned for me to look over to the side.
The woman and man were moving up to where we were standing and the woman said, “I just want to thank you for talking and praying with me and also I want to tell you that I will now feel so much better about my baby being on that plane knowing you will be there to watch over her for me”.
When we boarded the plane we realized that my seat was directly in front and Anna’ was right across the aisle from the little girl.
There is no doubt in my mind that God prepared the whole scene from guiding me to talk to the mother to having our seats located surrounding the child.