Sometimes you don’t realize a moment in time is a defining moment until after it has passed. Then, there are those other times that you know, in the midst of, you are a part of something special, something divine, in your life or in the life of another. Today there was one of those moments.
In leading a team you always want to see participants take initiative and make the most of their time. Sometimes, though, you have to coax the participants to do something. They’re nervous to do something, but you know they’ll be great at it so you work with them to get them to do it. Usually it involves getting them to share their story. They think they won’t be good, or they have nothing to share, but as the leader you know their story will be impacting to those that hear it.
For awhile, I’d known I wanted one of the team members, Eva Rhoades, to share her story when we met with college students. I can’t explain why, just that I knew she was suppose to share. I didn’t know any particulars. Just had the feeling, that’s all.
Earlier today we met with some students again. Normally when we meet with students it is easy to get conversations started and to get them asking questions. I don’t have to plan much, just kind of channel the flow of the conversation. Today, though, we were having a difficult time connecting with the students. We were sharing a bit, and I was trying to get them to share about themselves, but we were flatlining. In the midst of our time seemingly going up in smoke, the feeling came to me that I should have Eva share. I felt assured for some reason then, like I was about to pull a trump card to save our time with the students.
We took a break and I asked Eva if she’d be willing to share. She said yes, but I could tell she was nervous. I assured her that she’d do great, but I doubt she heard me. I watched her the rest of the break and prayed for her as I could see the worry and tension mount in her face. Deep emotions were coming to the surface.
Our break ended and after a few minutes I asked her to come up and share her story. Emotions were ever present. I think just getting up in front of anyone and being willing to share her story brought about victory.
I don’t think it’s right of me to share the details of what was said, but I do believe I witnessed grace while Eva shared her story. Grace, forgiveness, obedience and love were laced throughout her story. Along with all that, you watched someone through the telling of story fight the good fight and refuse to be beaten by evil. You saw healing and restoration.
Everyone in the room was locked in by what they were hearing and seeing. The themes of her story were applicable to everyone. How do you respond in a Christ-like way when you undeservedly endure pain, suffering, shame and more? She was real, vulnerable and poignant with her story. She drew everyone in that room closer to God.
Watching and listening to it unfold brought a sense of awe. God works miraculously in and through us no matter what the scenario. He can turn evil into good if we allow it.
Obviously, from that point on our time with the students went exceedingly well. All because of one person being willing to let God use their story for His glory. Dan Allender often talks about this, when we let God author our stories so they connect with the great story (Jesus) then we can bring God’s glory, love and Kingdom to people.
I think we witnessed something special today. Those students were touched deeply by what they heard from Eva. And, I think for Eva it was a moment that won’t be forgotten any time soon.