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Clarence

I pray that my praise reports characterizing my healing as having come on the wings of prayer are pleasing in Your sight."  

Lord, it's been a year since our lives were turned upside down by the incident where I was hit by a Tahoe SUV while jogging on Old 98 in Destin. I can't think of any reason to observe the physical tragedy of February 21, but there is another reason. People have remarked that the incident was the work of the devil, but we commemorate the date because you (God) rescued me, turning the incident into a miracle by saving me from what otherwise would have been sudden death upon the impact. Whenever I see a Tahoe, I tend to think about the incident and marvel at how my body caved in the grill of that huge vehicle, threw me against the windshield, and I am still alive.

Thank you Lord for John and Dawn Foy who saw me on the side of the road and stopped, called 911 and stayed with me a half-hour until an ambulance arrived, and then later introduced themselves when they came to see me in the therapy hospital. I especially thank you Lord for my family who took care of me and made the daily and often difficult decisions while I was in the three hospitals. And God, my praise will never end for the healing you provided me via the prayers of people all around the world. I pray that my praise reports characterizing my healing as having "come on the wings of prayer" are pleasing in Your sight.

After having early medical forecasts that I had a 20% chance of survival, and if I did, I probably would not be able to walk or talk, I'll thank you, God, every day the remainder of my life for the healing that has repaired my spinal injuries and restored me to an active person again. I dedicate the use of my body and mind to serving you God, however possible. As I remember this anniversary of my near death, grant me the wisdom to use my life every day in ways pleasing to you, God. And help my family, who cared for me so well during the tragedy, to live daily in ways pleasing to you, and all of us serving you, God, in remembrance of the special blessings of survival and healing that has come my way since February 21. In Jesus' name. Amen. 

Anna

God would provide the next step, the next meal, the next house...."  

As I’ve had time to reflect on our recent trip to Uganda, if I had to summarize the trip or pick a theme for it, it would be something about God’s provision. God provided for us as we traveled, but even more significant to me were the stories we heard and the people we met. These were testimonies of God using his children to take care of each other.

One story that embodies this is Mama Mary. After feeling called by God, Mama Mary started caring for orphaned children in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. Just as Mary would absolutely run out of food, housing, money, and options, God would provide the next step, the next meal, the next house. They are now being partially supported by a group of college students from Kampala International University and their church.

The love that Mary has for her children is so evident, as is her faithfulness to God. Please pray for Mary, and for the thousands of individuals like her, as they give their lives to care for least of these. And “know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is a faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands” (Deut 7:9).

Tracy

I was filled with such awe over the love I felt...."  

My turning point came when my husband and I committed ourselves to Jesus and this church family. We had talked on numerous occasions of coming to the front of church during the time of response and I wanted to do it but I wanted it to be perfect. The Sunday that Justin turned to me and said “Let’s go!” I had a moment of hesitation. I had on an outfit that I disliked, I don’t even think I got a chance to brush my hair, the only makeup I had on was what I could wrestle out of my daughter’s hand in the car ride over and I had spit-up all over me. Not exactly perfect. And I almost didn’t go but a voice said “GO Tracy. If you don’t do it now you will regret it. It is not about any of those things. It is only about you and God.” Walking down to the front I did get emotional because I was filled with such awe over the love I felt. I can only describe it as the same feeling I get on the first truly warm day of spring when I step outside, the heat from the sun warms me from the inside out, and my stomach clenches with that warmth. It must have been Jesus’ love.

I now know that it doesn’t matter where I have been or what I am wearing Jesus is here for me. Coming to Christ and to this faith community has been a true privilege. Every week I get to hand over my mistakes, my problems and my hurts and in return, I get filled with love. I was not raised in a religious family and I do not have extensive knowledge of the Bible but when I come here, I get to see a glimpse of who I might become if I learn from my mistakes, follow the examples of righteous living from the Bible and most importantly learn to let go.

Karen

God is the center here and God is working here...."  

I’m an environmental scientist, and I grew up finding a feeling of love and peace in the beauty and harmony of natural systems and cycles. There is a feeling I get about nature that I can only ascribe to something greater than myself. I’ve always felt a strong presence in my life, through good and the bad times – guiding the circumstances of my life. I never questioned that there was a divine reality. But I also never really associated that feeling, the presence of that force with the big G, God. I called it the “Universe” guiding me, keeping me on the path that my life is meant to follow. As long as I listened to the instinct that the Universe placed inside me, I’d be OK. That was the foundation of my belief system.

About a year and a half ago when we started attending this church, I was huge with babies, and my husband and I were pretty desperate to get a footing here in GA – our marriage had faced a lot of tests over the previous 2 years, and we were quickly finding that we couldn’t solve our problems alone. It was at that time that “the Universe” worked again, via the oddest vehicle.

My husband’s parents are not religious. However, they had starting taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course in their hometown in Florida. They liked it so much that they gave us a subscription to the course as a Christmas present, telling us that we could just “look past all the God stuff” included in the course. Realizing that our finances were about to get a whole lot tighter with the impending delivery of our twins, I searched for the closest location for the next Financial Peace offering in our area. Low and behold it was here at First Baptist. This place, these walls, these people – it all snapped into place like a puzzle. God is the center here and God is working here.

The more we came, the more I could feel that “feeling”, the feeling of nature or “the Universe” inside me. Whispering in my ear, tapping me on the shoulder. Not to say this last year has been easy – it’s been far, far from that - but I can’t imagine it, can’t really imagine surviving it, without this Church, or more correctly, without finding God in this Church. My husband and I have confessed Christ and we were baptized here last Christmas Eve.

Up until recently, I still didn’t have a good name for that feeling that has let our family know that we don’t have to search for a spiritual home anymore. The guidance I was attributing to “the Universe” was the Holy Spirit breathing on our lives.

Judi

God answered by calling some teachers out of our own group...."  

Our adult Sunday School class has been without a regular teacher for some time. We’ve invited “guest” teachers and have had some who helped us out often, but we were praying for a permanent teacher or at least a regular monthly rotation. God answered by calling some teachers out of our own group who had not been asked to teach before, and by sending us people asking if we would be interested in having them teach. Now we have people lined up to teach our class! Thanks be to God!

Todd

I’m tired of trying to control my life and am now ready and willing to follow Jesus...."  

When I stood in the waters of my baptism last Christmas Eve I said to the congregation, "I am tired of trying to control my life and am now ready and willing to follow Jesus."

I’d been spending some time looking at my past, and I saw vast amounts of selfishness and self-absorption. I had an artificially elevated view of my talents and capabilities, which really masked a life full of anxiety and self-doubt. After much inward looking I realized that my trying to control and manipulate others and situations to get my own way was exhausting and was causing great harm to others. I have ample evidence of how I can really destroy myself and others around me by trying always to do it my way, with no regard for what is right or wrong or how my actions will affect other people.

A good friend of mine said that the uncomfortable feeling I get inside when I’m about to do something immoral is God speaking to me. He also told me that I need to stop and listen to that voice, and just do the right thing and leave the results up to God. I want to start living like this.

I’m tired of trying to control my life and am now ready and willing to follow Jesus. I still struggle now with listening to God and taking the right action. It is sometimes really hard to do the right thing, and I still fail. But thankfully, if I fail, I know that I can ask for forgiveness from God and ask for strength to do better the next time. This is just a much better way to live.

Cyndy

When I felt I couldn’t take another step, God carried me. And when I had no strength, he sent others to help ease my pain,. Plain and simple, God truly saved my life...."  

My name is Cyndy and I am a recovering alcoholic and addict. By God’s grace I have 8 months of sobriety. Addiction is a dark, lonely place that I spent 15 years in. I created a huge gulf between God and me. My behaviors during my active addiction went against everything I believed in.

On April 26, 2008 I found myself in a Crisis Center. I was suicidal with no hope and no faith. I cried out to God while on the floor beside my bed. God was already there and has held me in his arms ever since. When I didn’t think I could go one more miute, God gave me an hour. When I felt I couldn’t take another step, God carried me. And when I had no strength, he sent others to help ease my pain,. Plain and simple, God truly saved my life.

My favorite verse is Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.” It took being lifeless on the floor to be still enough to allow God to be who he is and to do with my life as he intended when he created me. I hope my story encourages those who read it to hold on, no matter what the circumstances. Even on the floor, God is with you.

Jeanette

By God’s grace, I was blessed with a remission from the cancer..."  

In 2003 I was diagnosed with a rare form of plasma cell cancer for which there is no cure. I went through some very extensive and difficult treatment. One of my friends at another church requested that the chapter of Prayers and Squares at her church make a prayer quilt for me. They made a quilt for me, all during the process praying for my comfort and healing.

At several places there are long threads coming out of the quilt. That was where the rest of the congregation had a chance to participate. They dedicated my prayer quilt in a worship service and explained my need. Then one by one the church members came to my quilt, tied a knot in one of the strings, and prayed for me.

When the quilt was given to me and the story of this ministry explained, it was one of the most emotional, heartwarming gestures I received. Whenever I lay under my quilt, I was literally covered in prayers.

God answered those prayers. By God’s grace, I was blessed with a remission from the cancer. My prayer quilt remains a tangible, loving reminder of the power of prayer offered on my behalf by friends and by people I never even met.

The motto of the Prayers and Squares ministry is, “It’s not about the quilts---it’s about the prayers.”

Chris

She told me about the unending love of Jesus, and that He and only He could remove the pain and anger from my heart..."  

My father was married to another woman but found a way to have a 25-year affair with my mother. I was the result of that affair and I grew up as a child helping to protect that secret. The affair continued until I was in my early twenties. My dad had three other children that he would talk about occasionally. I often wondered what life would be like if he would divorce that family, marry my mom and move in with us. As I entered my teen years the anger started to boil in my heart and by the time I got to college it had consumed me. Drugs, alcohol, partying with friends...anything to medicate the situation—this was all I cared about. Until I met Carla. She grew up in a Christian home with a very strong sense of family. We began dating and eventually fell in love.

After about a year into the relationship Carla told me that she could not continue dating a man as angry as I, and that I needed help. She told me about the unending love of Jesus, and that He and only He could remove the pain and anger from my heart. I invited Jesus Christ into my life right there on the spot and begged him to help change my angry heart. It didn't happen overnight but through lots of prayer and over time, He has done just that. God has given me the power to forgive my parents and my heart is tender and loving once again. This is not to say that the anger doesn't sometimes creep back in and show it's ugly face, but the power of Jesus has helped me release that anger and move ahead with my life.


Christopher, age 11

The only thing that calmed me down that week was the closeness I felt to God while I was walking on the labyrinth..."  

The week was awful before I went on the labyrinth prayer walk. My teachers gave me a ton of homework, which sometimes took hours. The only thing that calmed me down that week was the closeness I felt to God while I was walking on the labyrinth. As I walked I could feel all of these emotions that I didn’t need such as anger and sorrow going away. Well all that I’m saying is that the labyrinth is a time to relax and a time for people who haven’t really gotten a chance to talk to God or Jesus to do it, and to give God your worries.


Scott

When mortars and rockets would come raining down, when IEDs were exploding all around our convoys..." 

I recently had the honor and privilege of serving our nation on a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan as a member of the United States Army Reserve, using my skills as an architect. Our civilian career experience, paired with our military training, had our small engineering unit well prepared to successfully carry out our mission. As we traveled from camp to camp all across the country, we would help to plan and implement facility and infrastructure upgrades and manage all construction projects, helping our fellow soldiers to get out of tents and into barracks and allow them to transition from wet wipes to showers. These were "good” days, when we were “winning” and seemingly in control of everything we were dealing with.

But then there were days that were not so good, times when we realized just how little control we actually had over our situation. When mortars and rockets would come raining down, when IEDs were exploding all around our convoys, when we were getting showered by rocks as we patrolled through local villages, when we were standing in formation almost every week as a flag-draped coffin was loaded onto the back of a C-130 taking the body of a young man or woman home…

In these life-changing events, I realized how insufficient we were to deal with these circumstances. These were not tests of character but test of faith. In these moments, turning to God for strength was the only answer and I was humbled. He would sustain me in those moments and I was forever changed for the better. As a result of this life lesson, I now enjoy the good days and thank God for the bad ones.

David

 John, and my son Jim were sitting on the couch one day trying to find a way to raise enough money to purchase a video projector for the burgeoning new church that John was planting..."  


The best God stories occur when you are doing what's normal and natural and then find out that God was really using you to facilitate something good in the world. If you know about it beforehand it takes a lot of the joy away.

When my wife and I lived in California my compensation plan involved a twice-yearly bonus that was very variable and unable to predict very far in advance. So twice each year we would sit down at the kitchen table and review the opportunities that God had put on our heart and make contributions to various ministries and causes.

One of my sons had attended college with a student who went on to seminary and after graduating was led into church "planting". So this church planter, John, and my son Jim were sitting on the couch one day trying to find a way to raise enough money to purchase a video projector for the burgeoning new church that John was planting. (This was back in the days when that sort of equipment was quite expensive). They had given up for the day and gone out to check the mailbox before dinner. My check had arrived that day and covered the expense of the equipment needed. Jim called me immediately and told me the story and it gave me more joy than anyone could imagine.

If Jim had called and suggested I make a donation for the equipment, I would have, but what a blessing God gave me when it happened His way.

Molly

”God knew from the beginning the plan He had for our lives ..."  

I call this my “napkin story.” Wandering through a new linen store one day I saw a stack of napkins on sale. I admired the print and since they were just $1.00 each, I bought them. When I got home, I realized they didn’t go with any of the colors in my house, so I put them away telling myself that was a foolish impulse purchase.

Sometime later my husband retired, our youngest went to college and we moved across the country, coming back to Atlanta. We found a house that had just been remodeled. When I unpacked those napkins I discovered they exactly matched the window treatment in the breakfast room.

God knew from the beginning the plan He had for our lives and when I looked at the napkins, I could only marvel at His goodness that He should show His love and care in such a simple way.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jer. 29:11