Life moves fast, and so do we! So often, I (Lydia) think I am like the unthankful nine who were healed of their leprosy and never thought to go back to thank Jesus for giving their lives back to them. Instead, they went on with their day and surely found something new to be disgruntled about. “Sure, I am not an outcast anymore, but I don’t know where to go to get a job!” or “Now that my skin is not rotting and falling off my body anymore, I sure am starving! And I have no money for food.”
I don’t want to be like them. I want to be like the one who came back rejoicing, falling at Jesus’s feet in thankfulness! I bet he would still go on to have problems in his life, daily struggles to survive and unanswered questions in his future, but that didn’t prevent him from stopping to thank Jesus. So often the present struggles in our lives prevent us from seeing all the answered prayers we are surrounded by! Let’s take a moment to just rejoice and be thankful!
Since the beginning of our little church plant, we have been praying for family units. Not just kids, but whole families! Not just moms and kids, but WHOLE FAMILIES! We wanted to see God bring families to Himself, and He is doing it! We have a few new families with kids, and we are beyond excited and thankful to our miracle-working God for the way He is moving and answering our prayers.
We will get to that, but first, a little history. For a while, we intentionally avoided having a sign in front of our house/church building because of the effect that this can have for some “seekers” who are afraid to be seen going into a church, but can safely come to our house as “guests” without drawing unwanted attention to themselves. This was a really great benefit in the beginning as people were curious what we are all about, but would never have been ready to enter a traditional church building.
As the church began to grow and form into an active community of believers, Josh had the idea to advertise various activities that we offer as a church. We prayerfully considered this before going forward with it, as it represented a bit of a shift in the life of our church. People who came regularly would no longer be able to use the “cover” of going to visit friends as they had before. It would be obvious by the sign on the front fence that they were entering to participate in church. However, we wanted people passing by on the street (there are so many people in a day who walk by our street because we are in the very center of town) to know about the opportunities we offer to people who are looking for the truth. So, the signs were made, hung, and presented to the world. Almost immediately, people took notice. From our window we could see people stopping to read the sign. We wondered, will anyone actually come because of this? Will anyone visit the website and at least read the presentation of the gospel there? What would be the repercussions, good or bad, from revealing ourselves to the world in this way? It really felt like a huge step of faith. Everyone sees us come and go from our house, and now our front gate tells them everything they need to know about who we are and why we are here. As a naturally private person, I felt really exposed.
But God. He knew what He was doing. He knew that a Bulgarian family with two precious little girls had just moved back to the Shumen area from Cyprus. He also knew that they were struggling to find “home” and wondering whether or not to stay in Shumen. He knew they wanted a church family and community for their kids and themselves. He knew they had faith, but had been struggling to grow and walk with the Lord. And He knew that the mother would walk out of the restaurant across the street from us and see our sign. She left the restaurant hungry. Isn’t it funny how God works?
Literally, she was hungry. She was walking around downtown, looking for a place to have lunch. She entered the restaurant across the street from us, but nothing on the lunch menu sounded good to her, so she left, still hungry. As she walked out, she saw the church sign and immediately looked us up online. She continued to walk and look for something to eat. She got some fast food and sat on a bench in the park. She knew she was hungry for more than just physical food. She was spiritually hungry, and she felt in her spirit that she must reach out. She wrote to the church on Messenger and was surprised by the quick response. She returned home and announced to her family that they were going to church on Sunday evening. From that point on, they have been a source of great encouragement to us as they soak in the Word, joyfully join in worship, serve the community with us through Operation Christmas Child outreaches, both parents have begun the individual discipleship course, and the kids have become an integral part of our children’s church, every Sunday actively participating and sharing and growing!
This is one story of His miraculous answer to prayer, and there are more stories like this! God is so, so good. This phase of ministry has been so exciting and encouraging, but not without struggles and unanswered questions, of course. We need your continued prayer and support as we work through challenges on a regular basis. Bur sometimes, we just need to stop, come to Jesus, fall at His feet, and thank Him!