This is the third and final post in our series about the FamilyLife® Weekend to Remember Alissa and I volunteered at the weekend before Thanksgiving. (If you missed the first two parts, you can catch them here and here.)
This organization is near and dear to our hearts. With the love of Jesus, they pour hope and life into marriages that need to be revitalized, renovated, and marriages that sometimes just need basic maintenance.
One particular couple who attended the conference really had our attention .
Before we met them Friday night, we were told of their difficult journey to the conference and about all of the various things that had gotten in their way to make this a weekend to remember, but for all the wrong reasons.
Because of their story, though, we had already covered them in prayer, and praised God because we KNEW that God had something in store for them this weekend.
I mean, if the devil is going to put everything out in order to try to keep you away, God's gotta have something for you on the other side of it, right?
On the way, they ran out of gas and got stuck on the side of the road. Someone brought them gas, but then their car battery died.
So after all of this...they still came. Albeit, late, but they showed up with smiles, grateful to even be there.
After the sessions that night, Alissa and I had the opportunity to meet them and talk with them a little bit, and sympathize with their story.
It being late, they were looking for an opportunity to find a restaurant that was still open. We gave our suggestion and drove back home.
Saturday morning, we spent our time greeting and opening doors, lending smiles, and trying to answer questions.
When they came in and that morning, they told me the their car battery died again when they went out for dinner, and a policeman from a local college helped them get their car started again so they could get back to the hotel.
Later that day, I ran into them again. They told me that, yet again, their car didn't start, and I offered to help them jump it this time and stay with it so it could charge for a while.
After way more effort into jump-starting a car than I have experienced before, it eventually started, and I sent them back inside to enjoy the upcoming session.
After what seemed like more than a reasonable amount of time, I decided it would be a good idea to turn their car off, then restart it, in order to see if their battery managed to hold a charge this time.
So I spent another while trying to get it to start again.
So I went inside, and told our dear friend and FamilyLife® missionary about the issues I was having with the car.
“So do you feel we need to buy them a new battery?”
YES!!! That's exactly what I wanted to do!
So money was collected!
I was going to go buy a battery, but then I came to the realization that tools were needed to remove the old one and install the new one.
I didn't have any of those either, so we rounded up a few hotel employees with willing hearts to try to find tools we could use.
One of the bellman told me he would meet me at the car with whatever he could find. At this point I was starting to get a little uneasy because I knew I couldn't go and get the old battery out, go buy a new battery, and get it in before the car owner came back out.
I mean, I just really wanted to hand back his keys and say “Hey, everyone chipped in because we love you, and we just hope the weekend can be redeemed a little bit.”
The bellman did make it down with the tools he could find... but none of them would work. So we got the car started, and the bellman wanted to turn it off, and then try to restart it again to see if it held the charge.
Then the owner came back out, and I had to look at him and tell him the battery was dead, and wasn't holding the charge at all. I told him some of the different things that I had tried to do to insure that it would work, but of course...
So we said we would just get it jumped and drive to the auto parts store and get a battery together.
After struggling to get the car started AGAIN, the guy who was parked next to him came up and asked if everything was okay.
We gave him the very short version of the car not starting and it needing a new battery.
He walked back and came back with a meter, which showed the cables weren't providing much power to the car.
So he went back to his car and got his cables.
The car started within a few seconds this time!
Then we turned it off, to try to see if it would start again!
And... It didn't.
He walked back over to his car, looked over his shoulder and said, “I've got a battery in the back of my car.”
Not really believing I heard what I heard, I followed him, asking what he said.
He pulls the battery out of the back and looks it over.
“Will it fit?”
He walked over with socket wrenches, which he also had in the back of his car, and looked over at the man who owned it and said:
So I've got a testimony you need to listen to. I teach mechanics over at a community college.
The battery in my car died last Monday, and we were able to get it going again just fine. But God told me to put this battery in the back of my car before I leave in case something happens. And then, He said I needed to pack my cables and my tools, too.
He installed the battery, and it started. It was turned off, and then re-started just fine.
Before it was over, there were 7 of us in a circle holding hands and thanking God for His provision and for His leading.
God enabled me to work in what I truly believe is my calling and my gift, as a servant doing an act of kindness for someone in need.
God enabled our friends Keith, Dexter, Tiffany, my wife, and the bellman to be a part of this story.
God disabled my plans and my hopes for how God could get the glory.
He already had a plan in place!
God knew the troubles this man would face with his car. And because of that, another man had trouble with his. God used that in order to have him prepare for something and have something that His brother was going to be in need of.
God knows my heart and knew that I would jump at the chance to try to help.
He put Dexter and Tiffany there to walk in at the right moment in order to witness what God was going to do because they were coming to check on me and the situation with the car and tell me where my wife was.
My wife got to be witness the glory of God revealed when she walked back in at the tail end of the story and heard it rehashed from me and the owner of the troubled car.
I got to take the money that was gathered back inside, after the majority of people had left, and put in in the hands of a surprised Keith, who thought I had gone to get a battery for this couple to bless them.
The owner of the car told us that he was to start a new job on Monday , but for considerably less than this current position, and he added that his wife was worried about that and how things will go for them.
Alissa's response was perfect and God-willed.
“If God can take care of you like this, in this situation, I think He wants you to know that He will take care of you with your job.”
In my desire to be a blessing to someone, God multiplied the blessing He gave to me.
My friends, God is tangible.
God is real.
I prayed all weekend that people a room away would experience Him in an undeniable way, and that day, God did...
For them, and for me.
Sunday came. The last session ended with a large majority renewing their wedding vows. Each couple was given a beautiful document for them to sign as a visible image of their renewed covenant, with room for them to sign and for witnesses to sign at the bottom of a page.
Alissa and I were both incredibly honored, and humbled, to be asked to sign as witnesses for that couple with the car issues, and to pray over them again and their travels back home.
During that whole weekend, God was present.
We witnessed 24 salvations, 185 individuals asked to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and 99 recommitted their lives and families to Jesus.
And I feel, as volunteers, Alissa and I were impacted perhaps even more than some of those.
Throughout the weekend, we felt it heavily impressed upon us that God is doing a new thing...in us and through us. Seeking the Symphony (the new blog address) is part of that, but we feel there is so much more, and we cannot wait to share our journey with you.
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord.
P.S. We are currently working on planning for the event for November 17-19 of next year. We are exhilarated to be part of this wonderful team and can't wait to bear witness to what God will accomplish.
If you would like to be a part of it, as an attendee OR volunteer, please comment or contact us.
Either way, you'll never be the same.