Marc’s Story

I’ve had the tremendous privilege to meet Marc while in France. He joined a DBS that my friend Youkang started, and soon Youkang and I joined our two DBS’s into one. For the next two years I got to know Marc deeply. He was also a sound tech at ICCP so we saw each other often, and was kind enough to invite me with the rest of our group francaise to many meals and evenings together. After I left France, I had the continued privilege to coach Marc.

Marc has always had a boldness to share the love of Jesus. In one of our coaching conversations, he mentioned his neighbor. He felt very passionately to share Jesus with her, but wasn’t getting very far. A few months later, he contacted me to tell me that He had been reading the Bible with her every morning, and that she was changing because of it! Excited, I asked him if I could share his story with you all, so here it is.

How did you come to meet your neighbor?

J’ai rencontré Mutty (son vrai prénom est Janine) quand j’ai emménagé à Aix en Provence, en 2011. Elle est la propriétaire de l’appartement que j’occupe actuellement. Elle est ma voisoine directe.

I met Mutty (her real first name is Janine) when I moved to Aix en Provence, in 2011. She is the owner of the apartment I currently occupy. She is my direct neighbor.

How and when did you start having conversations with her? 

J’ai commencé à vraiment parler avec elle dès le début où je l’ai connue. Cela c’est fait naturellement, car au tout début elle me louait une chambre qui était dans sa maison, et on se voyait tous les jours, dans la cuisine au moment des repas, ou dans le jardin.

I started to really talk to her from the very beginning I got to know her. This is done naturally, because at the very beginning she rented me a room which was in her house, and we saw each other every day, in the kitchen at mealtime, or in the garden.

How did God inspire you to share His love with her? 

En fait, j’ai été amené à lui parler très rapidement de ma foi, car souvent elle me voyait partir à l’église le dimanche, ou pendant la semaine, quand j’allais à l’étude biblique ou au groupe de maison. Comme elle me posait des questions pour savoir où j’allais – elle est assez curieuse – alors je lui disais que j’allais à l’église, ou que j’allais rencontrer des amis croyants. Je lui ai dit que je croyais en Dieu et en Jesus-Christ, et ce que Dieu avait fait dans ma vie.

In fact, I was prompted to tell her about my faith very quickly, as she often saw me go to church on Sundays, or during the week, when I went to Bible study or home group. As she was asking me questions about where I was going – she’s quite curious – then I would tell her that I was going to church, or that I was going to meet believing friends. I told her that I believed in God and Jesus Christ, and what God had done in my life.

How did it feel to start bringing God into your conversations? Were you scared, excited? 

J’étais plutôt entousiaste de pouvoir lui parler de ma foi et de Dieu, et de Jesus-Christ. Cela me libérait, car elle était très curieuse et me posait des questions sur la vie personnelle, donc cela permettait de changer le centre d’intérêt, de plus, je me sentais “valorisé”, et me donnait du “sel”.

I was quite excited to be able to tell her about my faith and God, and Jesus Christ. It freed me, because she was very curious and asked me questions about personal life, so it allowed to change the center of interest, moreover, I felt “valued”, and was able to be “salt”.

What gave you the idea to read the Bible with her and how did that come about? 

Comme nous parlions assez souvent de la question de Dieu, je lui citais souvent des versets de la bible. Très souvent, ses questions et ses commentaires tournaient autour du protestantisme (qu’elle critiquait beaucoup) et du catholicisme (elle est catholique depuis son enfance). C’était des discussions stériles , qui ne me semblait pas amener Mutty à la foi. 

Je connaissais, au travers de mon expérience personnelle, l’importance de la bible pour trouver la foi, car j’ai moi-même trouvé la foi en lisant la bible, l’ancien et le nouveau testament, et j’ai été ensuite convaincu que Dieu existait (je ne croyais pas que Dieu existait avant de lire la bible !).

J’avais par ailleurs eu l’oportunité de participer à des études bibliques pendant la semaine, dans le cadre de mon église ICCP à Aix en Provence, et nous lisions à tour de rôle des passages de la bible et en discuttions ensuite, puis on les commentait : c’était vraiment très enrichissant.

Comme nous parlions souvent de Dieu avec Mutty, surtout le matin en buvant le café ensemble, il m’est venu à l’esprit de lui demander si elle était intéressée de lire la bible de temps en temps, et cela l’a intéressée. Et elle a accepté!

Je dois dire que le confinement que nous avons tous vécu en mars 2020, a favorisé les moments pour discuter ensemble, car avant nous ne prenions le café que les week-end, mais avec le confinement, nous prenons le café  quasiment tous les jours car je fais du télétravail.

Nous avons fixé pour objectif de lire la bible en entier et elle est d’accord. 

Je lui ai dit, en plaisantant (mais pas tant que ça …) que ce n’était pas le moment pour elle de partir (de ce monde) car il fallait finir la bible avant ! Elle a rit et elle est volontaire pour relever le défit (elle a été sérieusement malade en octobre 2020 et elle est allé à l’hôpital d’où elle en est revenue très afaiblie),

As we spoke quite often about the question of God, I often quoted verses from the Bible to her. Very often, her questions and comments revolved around Protestantism (which she criticized a lot) and Catholicism (she has been Catholic since her childhood). It was fruitless discussions, which did not seem to me to bring Mutty to faith.

I knew, through my personal experience, the importance of the bible to find faith, because I myself found faith by reading the bible, the old and the new testament, and I was afterwards convinced that God existed (I did not believe that God existed before reading the bible!).

I had also had the opportunity to participate in Bible studies during the week, as part of my ICCP church in Aix en Provence, and we would take turns reading passages from the bible and discussing them, then we commented: it was really very enriching.

As we would often talk about God with Mutty, especially in the morning while drinking coffee together, it occurred to me to ask her if she was interested in reading the bible every now and then, and it interested her. And she accepted!

I must say that the confinement that we all experienced in March 2020, favored the moments to discuss together, because before we only had coffee on weekends, but with the confinement, we have coffee almost every day because I telework.

We have set a goal of reading the entire bible and she agrees.

I told her, jokingly (but not that much…) that it was not the moment for her to leave (from this world) because she had to finish the Bible first! She laughed and she is willing to take up the challenge (she was seriously ill in October 2020 and she went to the hospital from where she came back very weak),

How has your relationship changed with your neighbor since you started reading the Bible with her? 

Il me semble que la relation est plus franche, car nous abordons parfois le thème du péché, et qu’aucun de nous est parfait ! Mais surtout, le fait de lire quasiment tous les matins (autour de 8h30 pendant 15-20 mn) et de le faire réguliérement, a créé une amitié plus grande.

It seems to me that the relationship is more straightforward, because sometimes we bring up the topic of sin, and neither of us is perfect! But above all, the fact of reading almost every morning (around 8:30 am for 15-20 minutes) and doing it regularly, created a greater friendship.

What are some signs that God is touching your neighbor’s heart? 

Elle manifeste clairement de l’intérêt pour ces moments de lecture, et même elle en est “ demandeuse” car si on ne le fait pas, elle me le fait remanquer “ah, vous n’avez pas lu la bible ce matin…!”. Quqnd nous lisons, je vois de plus en plus son visage s’éclairer et ses yeux s’ouvrir (comme elle est agée – 93 ans – elle a tendance parfois a fermer les yeux et à s’assoupir).

She clearly shows interest in these moments of reading, and even she is “asking” because if we don’t, she makes me take it back “ah, you didn’t read the bible this morning … ! ”. As we read more and more I see her face light up and her eyes open (as she is aged – 93 – sometimes she tends to close her eyes and doze off).

Who else is benefitting from all this? 

Oui ! Plusieurs personnes parfois écoutent le moment de lecture, et d’autres sont informés que nous lisons la bible : la personne qui vit chez elle en ce moment (qui  loue une chambre dans sa maison), l’auxiliaire de vie (une personne qui vient l’aider tous les jours pour lui faire le ménage et les courses), il y a aussi une infirmière qui vient tous les matins lui donner des soins. Il y a aussi sa petite fille (35 ans), qui parfois vient la voir au moment de la lecture, mais surtout elle lui téléphone tous les matins et elle est informée  que nous lisons la bible.

Yes ! Several people sometimes listen to the reading moment, and others are informed that we are reading the bible: the person who lives at home at the moment (who is renting a room in her house), the carer (a person who comes help her every day with cleaning and shopping), there is also a nurse who comes every morning to give her care. There is also her granddaughter (35 years old), who sometimes comes to see her while reading, but above all she phones her every morning and she is informed that we read the Bible.

How has this changed your relationship with God? 

Pas de manière criante et significative pour le moment, mais ce moment de lecture quotidien avec Mutty me permet de faire le focus sur Dieu et Sa parole, Il en est de même pour Mutty. Et je sais que quelque chose est en train de se passer dans son coeur et dans son être entier. De même pour moi.

  “Car la parole de Dieu est une nourriture pour l’âme, et elle ne revient pas à Dieu sans effet, sans produire ses effets sur la terre” (voir Esaie 55: 10-11).

Je me sens encouragé à continuer à faire cette lecture, et j’ai la foi que cela va produire l’oeuvre de Dieu dans ma vie, mais aussi dans la vie de Mutty, de ses petits-enfants et arrière petits-enfants, et les personnes qui viennent dans sa maison tous les jours … ! J’ai la foi que Dieu peut guérir ou améliorer la santé de son corps agé, mais aussi qu’une véritable foi va naître dans son coeur, et que cela aura un effet sur toute sa famille, et amènera l’oeuvre de Dieu. J’ai la foi que la parole de Dieu va produire une oeuvre grandiose dans ce lieu !!

Not in a major way at the moment, but this daily reading moment with Mutty allows me to focus on God and His Word, so does Mutty. And I know something’s going on in her heart and her whole being. The same for me.

“For the word of God is food for the soul, and it does not return to God without effect, without producing its effect on the earth” (Isaiah 55: 10-11).

I feel encouraged to continue reading this, and I have faith that it will produce the work of God in my life, but also in the life of Mutty, her grandchildren and great grandchildren, and the people who come to her house every day …! I have faith that God can heal or improve the health of her aged body, but also that a real faith will be born in her heart, and that it will affect her whole family, and bring the work of God. I have faith that the word of God will produce a magnificent work in this place !!

5 Texts

Even though I am now somewhat seasoned with the discovery group process, it never ceases to amaze me how God can work through such a simple system. My teammate calls it sneezable. If you want something to go viral, it has to be sneeze-able. Easy to catch, easy to transmit. 

DBS is more sneeze-able than even I realized. 

At some level I wasn’t looking forward to a dbs with a gentleman recently. But I knew that it was an opportunity I needed to take in obedience. Yes, I admit I’m not always excited about it. I should be. 

What God did was remind me of His absolute control over the whole thing, if I would just show up. 

I called the gentleman at the agreed time… no answer. This is corona times so it was happening over video chat. 

I called again five minutes later… no answer. 

So I sat a few minutes and reflected. I didn’t want to wait around for the call to happen at a later time, I didn’t have a later time available that day. 

As I reflected about what to do, I was reminded of a story in the book The Kingdom Unleashed, which encouraged me that the dbs originated as a tool for illiterate people groups. In essence, stories told (not read) with just a few questions had impact on their own. I thought, “well, I wonder if I just send him the passage via text and send him the 4 dbs questions along with it how he’ll interact with it?” Then he would see it whenever he looked at his phone I thought.

So that’s what I did.

And about 3 hours later, some texts started filtering back to me. My friend went on to answer the questions. As I read through them I was amazed at how God was working through those texts to reveal himself and a desire to discover more about Himself to my friend. 

It was so beautiful to see my friend commit to do an action of his own design that was obviously on God’s heart and revealed by the Spirit through the text. Of course, it had nothing to do with anything I could have told him he needed to do, because it was personal to him and his world, which I am not a part of. This is the magic of a dbs. Simple actions, Spiritually revealed, of the hearer’s design are very likely to be acted upon. It’s really something remarkable.

And there I was on the other side feeling quite silly. It was as if God whispered to me again, “See Brad how easy it is to obey me – to make disciples? How much did you actually do here? How much time did it take out of your schedule? How much did you invest in this exchange? Was it too heavy a load for you to bear?

My investment into the whole thing – five texts. 

One text copied from the ESV bible app, and four questions I didn’t even think up on my own. 

Five texts. 

The irony is not lost on me. I’m thankful He continues to be patient. With all I’ve seen and experienced this should not be a problem. Nevertheless the old man dies hard.

Where are you making it more complicated than it needs to be? Where are you getting in the way of what God wants to do? 

The Importance of Baptism

Since moving overseas, God has challenged just about every fiber of my trust in Him. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, the evidence is clear throughout scripture – look no further than Abraham. But it does. 

For the last two years, I have wrestled with the importance of Baptism. Not because I don’t believe it’s helpful – I knew it was important. But no one has ever been able to articulate to me it’s significance, nor have I understood it on my own. I’m not sure I do now, but I think I’m on the right track. 

Tell me if this sounds familiar: “it’s important because the bible says so.” “Jesus did it, so should we.” “Jesus said to do it, so we must.”

These are terrible arguments to do something. In my time afield I’ve been given the opportunity, in fact the necessity, of questioning my own reasons for my belief. In Europe, you have to be ready to answer a question intelligently or you are written off. Even worse is to try and answer a question you don’t really know the answer to with something trite. It’s not helpful, it’s not effective, and it’s not even authentic or vulnerable. It’s just regurgitated dogma. 

If you want your faith to stick, you must know from your heart (meaning personal experience) why you believe something. 

So this brings us back to the two arguments above. It’s not that doing something because the bible says so is wrong, it’s a very good reason IF the bible has proven itself trustworthy to you, which means that your reasoning is not the bible at all, it’s faith in God. Because you have faith in God, then you choose to follow what the bible says. God loves faith and absolutely He honors it. But it’s an important distinction. 

Last time I checked, Jesus said to pluck out your eyes if they cause you to screw up. I have yet to meet someone who has done this. He also died on a cross. While I know this actually still happens, you’d have a hard time arguing that He is asking everyone to literally do the same. 

In other words, these arguments don’t create a foundation for baptism – except for faith. This in fact is an excellent foundation, and it’s how I’ve gotten to where I am today. I would not be here without over and over making the conscious choice to believe God and let Him expand my faith and deepen my trust in Him. But I still believe God asks us to trust Him for more than simply learning to trust Him. 

Fascinatingly enough, my answer for this has come through my work in transition coaching; namely, the invaluable experience of ritual. 

Rituals can and do function as something of a rite of passage. They are signs of change, especially internally. They connect a non-physical reality to a physical one. In our case Romans 6:3,4 is helpful here:

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that…” 

The rest of the verse isn’t necessary for our purposes. Do you see what Paul is saying (hint: it’s in bold and underlined)? 

Baptism signals the beginning of a transition in a believers’ life. Every transition starts with an ending, a death. The ritual of baptism connects a spiritual ending, that of dependence on one’s self, to a physical reality, the submersion under water symbolizing the burying of the physical body. 

In other words, Baptism is a death ritual that symbolizes a transition is beginning. Just like all transitions, it starts with an ending. 

Now that I’ve been coaching people through transitions for a year, I am understanding for the first time the significance of this. 

Until one acts out physically in some way what has happened internally, the change doesn’t set in. I see this over and over again. Be it a mindset or a belief, until it’s acted upon, even by simply communicating that it’s there, its reality can be easily denied. The greater the physical act of acknowledgement, the greater the sticking power of that acknowledgement. In this way, baptism is a powerful reminder of acknowledgement that something has died. 

Jesus is a wonderful example of this. His transition is very clear. He goes out and is baptized by John – Ending his season of essentially being a normal human being and depending on Himself. Then we see the Spirit of God come over Him. 

I’ve heard people say how amazing and wonderful it is (and pastors preach sermons in fact) that God the Father says He is well pleased with Jesus at this point in Jesus’ life because Jesus hasn’t done anything yet. I also once thought the same. While I believe still that God loves us just because, the evidence for that isn’t found here. On the contrary, it confirms how truly and completely we don’t understand how God has designed humanity to function.  The reality is that Jesus has arguably just done the most significant thing He could…

He STARTED! 

Do we think that Jesus wasn’t aware of what he was doing? That He didn’t know what He was leaving behind? That He was unaware of what was ahead?

He didn’t even have any friends with Him yet cheering Him on! I imagine it took tremendous courage, far more than I have!

He committed Himself to mission and followed that commitment up by ending through Baptism the pre-ministry season of His life. 

THIS… IS… HUGE! 

It was a complete acknowledgement that His life was changing forever and He could / would never go back to how it used to be. Far from insignificant, this act was massive. I will say it again, it may have been the single most important decision Jesus ever made. 

We then see the Holy Spirit take Jesus straight into the desert alone for 40 days, a Neutral Zone experience if there ever was one, and then cap it off with a faith challenge in the form of temptation from the devil himself in order to enter into His New Beginning and direction. Every element of a major life transition is in place. 

Baptism isn’t about a public proclamation of choosing Jesus. It’s about dying to self and trusting God for the future.

The real importance doesn’t come in what path you have chosen to take, rather it’s in what you are choosing to leave behind – to let die.

The more aware you are of what you are choosing to die to, the more effective that death will be. This ritual powerfully symbolizes the move from dependence on self, to dependence on God.

If our lives are anything like Jesus’, the real test then follows. 

Racism has a parent – its name is Fear

I am posting this blog purely as a presentation of my own experience, not with experiencing racism, but rather discovering it within me. My hope is that you will take a stance of humility and look honestly within yourself for racism’s root. It’s much harder to deal with. Here’s my story.

In the summer of 2016, my wife and I and two boys landed in Paris for our new life. Well almost. We somehow missed the fact that there are no flights on Bastille Day, so we suffered to stay an extra day in the French capital and after take a flight to Aix En Provence where home would be for the foreseeable future.

After a long flight from California that went through Georgia and Massachusetts before crossing the Atlantic, we were exhausted. I wanted nothing more than to crash at our awaiting Airbnb. Was I ever in for a surprise.

Not knowing much about Paris and being on a shoestring, we reserved our airbnb in the shall we say colorful neighborhood of St. Denis, having no idea the area was so, well… unfrench. Perhaps the best description I can give of St. Denis is that it finds its way into Amazon’s Jack Ryan action series as the European location of the antagonist’s terror network. You get the idea.

So you can imagine our confusion when we arrived and I thought I was in Morocco with pretty(ish) buildings (my apologies if you love St. Denis, it’s really not the nicest area of town). Then compounding our anxiety, the next day a man of similar appearance to our airbnb community drove a van through a crowd of people in Nice, killing 50.

When we arrived in Aix in the south, we were so unprepared. People from the Middle East and North Africa were between 20-30% of the population in our area. What’s more, the men have a penchant for chatting at cafes for all hours of the day. And so, seemingly all of a sudden I felt surrounded by a group of people I didn’t understand and given the times (these were ISIS days) I didn’t trust.

It wasn’t long before I recognized something sinister within me bubbling up to the surface. I would have never called myself a racist. I had wonderful friends growing up from the hispanic community. Nevertheless, I found myself skeptical and believing the worst of my new neighbors for no other reason than that they seemed to stare (which I learned is more of a Mediterranean thing – of course there are exceptions, but I hated it still), walked through the streets at odd hours of the night talking aggressively (to my ears) in a language I couldn’t understand, and had the misfortune of looking something like the people of the groups that were bent on seemingly destroying everything western (among other things).

As I was forced to deal with my feelings, I discovered before long that my racism was founded on something larger and more difficult to shake or nail down – fear. While I wasn’t personally afraid of them for myself, I was afraid that something might happen to Hannah, that they might do something to a friend or restaurant or business I loved, that they might be planning something threatening a few apartments down, that I might feel forced to respond to a situation I have no experience with, that someone will get hurt because I do nothing, and the list goes on.

What was I thinking?!?!?!?!

As time went on, I confronted my fear and I made great friendships with a Tunisian and a Turk. My fears subsided, and my prejudice with it. What saddened me most was the realization that this ugly monster was lurking just below the surface and I had no idea until I arrived in France.

And how could I have? I had never lived in that type of environment before. I had never experienced that type of social climate before. I was never put in a situation where I would have feelings one way or the other regarding North Africans and those of the Middle East, except those that I have from watching and listening to media reports on terrorism. This is not real experience however, and it is very much one-sided. Was I actually in danger? No. Were there any real threats? Who knows, but nothing ever came of it.

The fact is, it’s too easy to get caught looking at the symptom of the problem and pointing the finger while patting ourselves on the back because we don’t struggle like that.

If you have the tree of fear, racism is a branch waiting to emerge from the trunk.

If you have the seed, the weed is just a season away. Can the glutton really point the finger at the alcoholic? It’s the same lack of self-control. Can the coward point the finger at the quitter? They both took the easy way out.

I thank God that He is not a God of fairness, but of grace and mercy. If He were, as white people we’d have at least 500 years of reverse racism owed us to settle our debt. In many ways we can thank Darwin. The naturalist evolutionary tenant survival of the fittest directly contributed to European colonial thinking and mindset. It goes like this: we’re more advanced (stronger) than you, therefore we are better than you, therefore it’s our right to subjugate you. We still teach evolution as the way nature works, that humans have just evolved the farthest. If nature chooses the strongest, why do we feel a deep set need to protect the weak? We still see people operate in both of these world views. We learn that nature chooses the strongest, we are the result of that multi-million year process, but then society says we need to protect the weak (unless we’re talking about the fetus), i.e. work against nature. Something doesn’t add up.

Let me be clear, I am not saying that any race is weaker than another. On the contrary, naturalism is bogus. We are all created in God’s image, thus all humanity not only has inherent value, but has equal value in God’s eyes, regardless of race, gender, or mental capacity and development. This view directly conflicts with survival of the fittest – or the modern pop version of it – only the strong survive. If I take any other view than God’s, I’m out of line with Him. Humanity however is still trying to decide what human life has value and what doesn’t (abortion, racism, euthanasia, human-trafficking, gender-inequality, etc.).

What does all that have to do with fear? The need for colonization of other territories in the first place was grounded on fear. If we don’t beat our European brothers and sisters to colonize territories they will become richer than us, we will lose power. They will subjugate us in one way or another, whether by taxes, war, or other means.

And so, if you have the tree of fear, racism is a branch waiting to emerge from the trunk. At least it was for me. It just took the right environment. As followers of Jesus, we must deal with the root of the issues, challenge our assumptions and submit them to truth. We then have to live through our fears, rather than avoid them. Otherwise it all just stays there like a giant iceberg unseen on the surface, waiting to sink you.

I thank God I didn’t have the option. The only option was to deal with it. It wasn’t comfortable, but the payoff was cutting down the fear tree. I’m honest enough to say I’m still digging up roots, but I’m digging, and that’s what really matters.

Confirmation

Too often, we don’t even recognize a divine appointment when it fires up its Harley and braaaaps in our driveway. I’m pleased to report that wasn’t the case for me on this day. Perhaps it was my anxious excitement to not have to go home. With the shelter at home laws here in The Netherlands marginally easing, I had options again. When it started pouring rain on me as I walked back to my bicycle after an errand, I remembered there was another place I could again go – the coffee shop – that is, actual coffee; living in the Netherlands I have to make that distinction.

So instead of enduring the downpour, I walked 100 meters to one of my favorite cafés to say hello to the barista. It didn’t matter who it was I knew all three of them and I wanted to see how reasonable it would be for me to get some work done there in the next few weeks with the new easing measures. As I walked through the door I greeted the barista and noticed another woman talking with her. She was tall and frail, visibly uneasy and unstable, but forcing a smile she greeted me politely and R the barista introduced us.

I asked for a coffee and she asked me why I was in The Netherlands. I was thrilled to tell her that I started a life coaching business to help people manage, cope, and succeed in their transitions. I shared my story of our transition to France and some of the things I learned and experienced, and then how we transitioned again to The Netherlands, the feelings I had experienced and how I was passionate about helping other people grow in these times of often intense stress. That was all she needed.

I found out she was American and had just arrived in January. As a transition coach, my antennae may as well have hit the roof. I started rapidly putting pieces together – this woman arrived two months before corona, has been living here since without a job, her husband had work, but thanks to the virus no connections outside of work could have been made. I remembered January and February. They were awful. The sun barely rose, it was freezing and yet it didn’t snow. It was hands down the most miserable season of weather I’ve ever experienced in my life. She had no children, and they were only in The Netherlands for a short stint of 6 months, effectively sabotaging any chance of making real connections. No wonder she was struggling!

And then as an aside, she tossed in how two days before she and her husband had left for The Netherlands, she had a miscarriage. My heart broke. We continued to talk and I gave her some advice and recommendations for ways of working through her clear depression that was being compounded by an extreme transition. As we continued I knew that while she thanked me for listening and hearing her, encouraging her and committing to see her and her husband before they left, I knew I wanted to pray over her with her present.

So after 45 minutes of talking and helping her offload some of her pain, I asked her if she would be comfortable with me praying for her. She heartily agreed and so with my barista friend watching, and I suppose a few other people in the café, I prayed a blessing over this dear woman. As I finished, she thanked me gratuitously and said that that was “really beautiful.” I have no doubt that she was touched by God, if only a little bit in that moment.

I took her information and she took my card. I committed to inviting her and her husband to whatever the next outing we have with the friends is, knowing how crucial even a little community is for healing. I imagine that’ll probably be in a week. But more than anything I was so encouraged by God’s beautiful orchestration of this woman whose very needs were something I had been not only trained to deal with, but was looking forward to helping. Even more, I’ve always known it’s a short step from a coaching conversation to a spiritual conversation. All it takes is patience and permission.

I thank God that my eyes were wide open. I thank him for the opportunity to be used. I hope I see C again and I hope she decides to email me. Do pray for her if you think of it. But even if she doesn’t, I know God touched her yesterday in that coffee shop. I don’t know how many times my friend R the barista has witnessed a spiritual moment like that so well received, where faith is more than speech and on public display. But I know I’m fired up. There is nothing so fulfilling as watching the Big Man at work and getting to take part. May this be the first of many divine appointments in that little café.