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So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. (Galatians 6:10 ESV)
“We have an opportunity for you,” wrote my West Coast friends in their Christmas e-mail. “Might you have any time this weekend for some unexpected ministry?”
Seems their missionary friend “J” was traveling from Belize to Ethiopia and collapsed in our local airport. J had been comatose and unresponsive for over four days with possible meningitis/encephalitis. The rest of J’s family flew across the country to join her, not knowing anyone on the East Coast. The e-mail concluded, “If the Christmas crowd has departed and you’d like to comfort some dear brother and sisters in Christ, it’s an opportunity.”
An opportunity to carry on Christmas! My two daughters, Christine and Julia, and our youth director, all with interests in medicine and missions, eagerly embraced the invitation. At the hospital, we met J’s mom and listened to her story, held hands and prayed, tears streaming down our faces. Knowing J’s mom had spent four days in Acute Care with her daughter, sharing the same bed, we left telling her we’d return with food for the rest of the family, expected to arrive soon.
As I pushed my cart through Trader Joe’s, I told the girls to shop with divine inspiration, and if the Holy Spirit nudged them, to add special foods to the basket. To our joy, when we returned to the hospital with the groceries, J’s mother said, “Oh, that’s their favorite!” and “Oh, my youngest loves those!”
After returning home, I saw a Facebook prayer request from an old friend on the opposite coast. Seems his daughter was heading to Ethiopia but her teammate had fallen ill and unresponsive. Would we all pray for “J”—the same person we had just visited. No coincidence. God’s hands were all over the opportunity. How exciting to relay to him we had just visited her! Believers across continents inviting and encouraging one another in prayer, words, and action.
Later I wondered how many divine appointments I miss. What if every day I looked for unexpected ministry opportunities? And so, with the New Year, I open my eyes and heart to look for divine opportunities, considering Proverbs 3:27 which reminds us, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them.” I hope to hear God’s voice as clearly as the e-mail statement, “I have an unexpected opportunity for you!”
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About Ann Stewart
Ann just won the Christy Award for Best Debut Novel of 2017 with Stars in the Grass, originated AMG’s Preparing My Heart series, and writes “Ann’s Lovin’ Ewe” for The Country Register. When she's not writing, she's waving her arms directing musicals, teaching middle schoolers, or watching UVA Basketball, This is Us, or Madam Secretary. In her free time she hangs out with her husband, raising two lovely daughters and a whole flock of fuzzy sheep on Skye Moor Farm, in Virginia--where unscripted drama provides plenty of entertaining material.
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