TRAVELING THROUGH STORMS

I believe people from Florida have the most experience traveling through storms. Besides hurricanes, storms happen almost every day during the summer months. And they most often arrive right in the middle of afternoon rush hour. The sky turns dark, thunder cracks, darts of lightening flash from sky to earth, winds howl, and rain falls in sheets. And if you’re a Floridian, you just keep driving, even when the water is halfway to your hubcaps.

St. George Island lighthouse. Almost from day one of our journey north, we drove through storms.

Florida’s stormy shores are protected by 29 lighthouses. I love lighthouses. I collect books about them, hang pictures of them, take pictures of them and even fill every nook of our RV with my collection. They are the one belonging I was unable to part with when we moved from our house into the RV.

The reason I love lighthouses is simple. They remind me of Jesus, who is the light of the world; and the call he has on each of our lives to shine his light into this dangerous, dark and stormy place.

Coronavirus. The tragic murder of George Floyd. Riots. Famines. The suffering never seems to end. We have suffered through some terrifying storms these last few months.

If we read our Bibles alongside our newspapers, we see many signs of the end times. The prophet Amos warned (Amos 6:11):

“Behold the days are coming,” declares the LORD God, “when I will send a famine on the land–not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.”

Does that sound like our world today?

About a hundred years prior to that, the prophet Nahum was already saying the same thing. In Nahum 2:13b he warned:

And the voice of your messengers shall no longer be heard.

Pete and I realize that a free walking stick will not make a person listen to the salvation message. That’s the job of the Holy Spirit. Our job is to keep telling the story as long as God allows and to ask him to lead us to those who will listen, not only with their ears, but also with their souls. That’s why, each day of our journey we pray that God will lead us to people who will listen with their souls. People who are going through life’s storms are often the ones who listen best because they are keenly aware of their need for Jesus.

And God answers our prayers in the most miraculous ways.

While there isn’t time to share every story of how God opened up opportunities for us to use the walking sticks to share the gospel as we traveled north, I’d love to share a few.

As you read these stories, please keep in mind that without your financial and prayer support, we wouldn’t have even one story to share.

Our first major opportunity to share the gospel took place on the second day of our trip when Pete and I were walking the dog. We hadn’t planned to stop, but Bella had insisted on going outside.

That’s when we met Brooke, a young homeless woman. When she walked past us, we smiled and said, “Hello.”

A few minutes later she returned. “You said hello to me,” she said. “Maybe I can ask you a favor.”

“What’s the favor?”

From the tone of her voice and body language, it was easy to see this woman was accustomed to rejection. “Would you let me use your plug in to charge my phone?” She held up a battered phone with a broken screen. “All I need is ten minutes and I promise I’ll be gone.”

Ten minutes, plenty of time to share the gospel. I knew Pete and I were thinking the same thing, and so we did what the world might say is a foolish thing.

We invited a homeless woman into our RV.

It wasn’t long before tears were streaming down Brooke’s face. She rolled up her sleeves and showed us her needle scarred arms. “I just got out of jail,” she admitted. “Drugs. I try to stop.” She was jumpy, looking out the window every couple minutes, afraid her pimp would find her. “But it’s hard.”

When we asked if she had family who could help, the rest of her story emerged. Brooke had been raised in a Christian home and accepted Christ as a child. By the time she married and had four children, she had walked away from the Lord and was occasionally using drugs. She turned to the Lord once again, but within weeks of her decision, her youngest child, only two-years-old, died.

That’s when she was thrown into the darkest and stormiest days of her life. Once again, she turned from the Lord and to drugs, which only increased her darkness. Her husband divorced her and she lost custody of her children. To support her drug habit, she became a prostitute. The night before we met her, she had slept with a stranger, just to have a bed to sleep in. Most nights she slept in the woods.

When I made her a sandwich and gave her a coke, she accepted it as if I had placed a steak dinner in front of her. As she ate, we continued to share the gospel. She understood. But did not believe God would accept someone like her. We cried with her, hugged her, and offered help so she could get off the street and into the arms of Jesus.

I’m sad to report that Brooke stepped out of our RV with Bible verses in her hand, but without turning to Jesus. As we watched her walk away, we prayed and we have not stopped praying for this young woman. God so desperately loves her and wants back.

Please let us know if you will pray for Brooke with us.

Before Brooke left, she gave me her mother’s phone number. I called her mom who confirmed everything Brooke told us. Understandably, Brooke’s family has pretty much given up on her, but her mom was thankful to know her daughter was still alive. She took down the information I gave her of Christian organizations who may be able to help Brooke.

With almost everything closed, gas stations were about the only place where we made contact with people. We shared the gospel and handed out the walking sticks at every station that we stopped in. At one station in Mississippi a man saw the Fellowship of Christian Farmers trailer and came up to Pete to tell him that he’d gotten a walking stick from Pete last Fall in Moultrie Georgia.

One gas station stands out in our minds.

The station looked like this one…after fifty years of grease, wear and tear. It was on the edge of a town that did not look at all like its name. Paradise.

“You’ve got to be more careful where you stop.” Clearly, Pete was not happy when I stepped from the car and met him at the door of the RV. “Did you lock the car? Look around, this is not a safe place.”

I looked. Pete was right. I was convinced that the phrase, Just hanging out, must have been born on this very spot. Clearly the people hanging out at this station had suffered through their share of life’s storms. An elderly man, weathered and wrinkled, sat on the ground, leaning against one of the gas pumps. At the rear of the station, two men leaned against a rusted pickup.

Despite his initial feelings, Pete approached the man sitting on the ground next to the pump. He offered him a walking stick and as he was sharing the gospel the men from the pickup, gathered around Pete. News spread fast that we were giving out free walking sticks. In all, we were able to share the gospel with six men and women at that little run down gas station. In the end, Pete was overjoyed that we had stopped there.

We were encouraged to see this truck parked along the highway.

Another place we were able to hand out walking sticks and share the gospel was at restaurants. Since we were traveling on a tight budget, we usually stopped at Cracker Barrels because they welcome RVer’s and allow them to spend the night in their parking lots. Most times we would order takeout and eat in the RV. But one night when we were in a state that had opened their restaurants to limited dining, we decided to eat inside the restaurant.

As usual, we carried our walking sticks with us. While I looked around the store, Pete stopped to explain the walking stick to who he thought was the hostess. The lady’s eyes filled with tears. “I know who I need to give this to,” she said. By the time we left the restaurant, we’d given out thirteen walking sticks to employees and customers. And the person Pete thought was the hostess was actually the restaurant manager who was so grateful that she paid for our dinners.

We simply can’t out give God.

By the time we reached Arkansas, we’d been on the road for over a week and needed to spend the money on a campground so I could do the laundry. God provided a clean and peaceful place at a reasonable price. While there, we were able to share with the campground owner and a few campers.

We also took a side trip to Hot Springs National Park where God gave us opportunity to share the gospel surrounded by his extravagant beauty. Every encounter seemed as natural as our surroundings.

Pete walking through the park, walking stick in hand.

Inside the national park, God provided opportunities to share the gospel with precious folks who we probably won’t meet again this side of heaven. This sweet young woman is a nurse enjoying her day off with her son.

Unfortunately, the home for unwed mothers we had hoped to visit in Missouri was still shut down due to the virus, so we spent a night at Ron and Ruth Mays, wonderful friends from ECHO. We had a great time and when they heard the gospel presented using the walking stick they felt it would be something their pastor would be interested in. They also gave us some leads on festivals for next summer in Missouri. We are praying that God will open doors for us there.

Pete and I with Ron and Ruth at their Missouri home.

While not everyone we spoke with accepted Jesus, we did not encounter one person who refused to listen. In days like the ones we’re living in, that is a miracle and we know seeds were scattered along our route. Many of the people we spoke with were already Christians and most were anxious to use the walking sticks and reading material to tell others about God’s plan of salvation.

Please continue to pray for these things:

1. As cities begin to open up, opportunities to set up our tent at summer festivals

2. Souls saved

3. Continued health for our RV–praise Jesus we had no problems on our trip north

4. Continued health for us

5. Brooke and the others we shared with on our way north

6. God will continue to meet our needs.

Thank you!

We can’t thank you enough for partnering with us with your prayers and financial support. God is using you to make this ministry possible. If you feel God leading you to support this ministry, simply click on Give at the top of the page. All gifts are tax deductible.

We love you all!

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