YOU SHOULD ASSUME

Back in 1971 I was sitting in front of a fire place at Ewalu Bible Camp in Strawberry Point Iowa on a high school youth retreat.  My pastor Larry Trachte came over and sat down with me and started a conversation about life in general.  He asked whether I was thinking about college and perhaps what I would study or pursue as a career.  I said I was thinking about Wartburg College and studying social work and religion and maybe continue on to Wartburg Seminary and eventual ordination as a clergy in the Lutheran Church.  We bantered back and forth and then he said something to me that turned out to be one of the most impactful statements of my life.

He said, “David, if in your lifetime you assume that every person you meet is hurting in some way, you will be right 99% of the time.”

At the time, I wasn’t aware of how that statement would affect me, but it did and it has.  Each and every morning I wake with anticipation of those Divine appointments that God has planned for me for that day.  In a sense, I turned on my internal radar and wait for those moments.

I decided I needed to share those moments with you in a blog titled YOU SHOULD ASSUME.  I encourage you to check back from time to time to be inspired by stories of random encounters that turned out to be opportunities to bring a message of hope to some hurting sole.

Back in 2012, I started a practice of telling people I encountered that I planned to pray for them and needed one specific thing to pray for.  The conversations that has opened up have been just mind-boggling to be perfectly honest.   But it does reveal what can happen when you attempt to BE the church by being purposeful and intentional in your daily walk.

I pray these brief descriptions of Divine appointments will serve to inspire you and your faith walk.
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“I PRETTY MUCH KEEP IT ALL INSIDE”
My YOU SHOULD ASSUME encounter today – May 22, 2017

This YOU SHOULD ASSUME encounter was definitely a Divine appointment.  This was the result of a call I received from someone who happened to be on my I’VE BEEN THERE Ministries website and was led to watch my talk show interview with Meteorologist John McLaughlin that took place in May of 2016.

She was a concerned and caring sister of her 60-year-old brother who has a similar diagnosis as John and is going to die prematurely if he doesn’t have a lung transplant.  She called me out of the blue from a very long ways away and practically pleaded with me to call and try to get her brother to talk about his condition. She’s very worried that he is giving up on life and she’s afraid of what could happen.

So many people are struggling with storms in their life and (like this man) need words of hope to live another day.  As believers, we must be ready to respond when prompted by the Holy Spirit.  YOU SHOULD ASSUME.

So, today I called the brother and introduced myself and why I was calling.   When he answered the phone he was having a coughing fit.  I thought he was going to die right then and there.  It shocked me how much he was struggling to breath and talk.  I was surprised that J. (first initial only to protect his privacy) was very receptive to a total stranger calling him.

Naturally, I said that his sister asked me to call him.  He thanked me and seemed open to a conversation.  We talked for 45 minutes.

We talked about how hard it was for him to receive his diagnosis.   I asked him if he had a faith and he said, “I want to say that I do, but I feel like I’m on the fence right now.” He said he use to go to church regularly as a child but fell away after high school.  He said it bothers him that he has never been baptized.

I asked him if he was a praying man and he said, “Sometimes I am, but it’s getting harder to know what to pray for and how to pray since nothing I pray for has turned out for the better.” I said, “You really sound discouraged.”  He said, “Well, my only odds for extending my life is a transplant and that seems remote at this time.” I asked, “Would you say your depressed?” and he said, “I suppose some people would say I am.”  I asked if he had any friends he could talk to and he said, “I pretty much keep it all inside.”  “I’m not a talker.”  “I don’t have any really close friends.”  I asked him if I could be his friend.  He said yes.

I asked how his wife was doing with all this and he said, “She’s bitter at the situation and at me and the disease and doesn’t have much of a faith to speak of.” “We hardly ever talk anymore.”  He said it’s been really hard on their 17-year-old marriage and even harder on their 13 year old son who recently told him he didn’t want to be with his friends anymore and just wanted to spend time with his dad fishing and doing stuff together.

I asked him if he prays for his wife and he said he does.  I asked if she knows that he prays for her and he said, ” Probably not since I’ve never told her I do.”   I said, you might be surprised how telling her could really soften her heart and open up a line of communication.  He agreed to tell her that he prays for her every day.

I told him that I was leaving to go to West Des Moines for a meeting and planned to pray for him by name on the drive there and that I needed to know one specific thing he wanted me to focus on.  He said, “I want to have a spiritual healing and to give me the mental strength to get through this.”

I acknowledged that he had a long, hard road ahead, but that God is faithful and He will show up in the midst of his storm.  I told him he could trust God to give him the strength.

I asked if I could pray with him and we did.  He was thankful and agreed to stay in touch.

“If you assume that every person you meet in your lifetime is hurting in some way, you’ll be right 99% of the time.

YOU SHOULD ASSUME

 


“I NEED PEACE”

My YOU SHOULD ASSUME encounter today – May 7, 2017

Whenever I’m asked to guest preach I tend to arrive about an hour before the start of the service to test the sound-system and get the lay of the land so to speak.

There’s generally a lot of hustle and bustle with folks scurrying around. It’s easy to be self-absorbed in the details and less attentive to potential Divine appointments.

And isn’t that the way it is with life in general? We miss a lot of those moments because we either just don’t want to be bothered with other people’s problems, or don’t want to take the time to listen because you have more important things you need to get done, so you try to be polite, but really not “tuned in” if you know what I mean.

Well that was me this morning for the most part. Until just a few minutes before the service was to start I was making my way to the front of the church when I encountered J. (first initial only). She welcomed me to the church and said she was looking forward to my message.

There was something about her that caused me to pause for a second or two and read her eyes. I just blurted out, “I could be wrong, but I sense that perhaps you have something burdening you.” (Not the best timing since the service was soon to start.)

So I went into my “routine” and said, “I just decided you are the person I’m going to pray for by name as I drive back to Des Moines this afternoon.” “What one thing should I pray about for you?”

Yep, I was right. Her eyes welled up with tears and I even noticed her shaking a little bit as she simply said, “I need peace.” And that was it. The service started. Ironically, my message talked about our common desire for peace of mind.

She came up to me afterwards and said, “That was kind of neat how that all fit together.” I said, “It’s that God thing again.” 😉

I told her I looked forward to praying for her by name.

There again……….. if you assume that every person you encounter in life is hurting in some way you will be right 99% of the time.

Have your radar on and be ready to press pause on what ever you’re doing when those Divine appointments come your way.

YOU SHOULD ASSUME.


MY DAUGHTER

Today’s YOU SHOULD ASSUME encounter – May 5, 2017

I’m at a local bank today. “Is there anything more I can do for you?” she’s asked. I said, “Yes please.” “How long will it take me to drive to Altoona?”

She said about 10 minutes. I said, “Great, I plan to use that ten minute drive to pray for you by name.”

She gave me a blank stare. I said, “I just need one specific thing you’d like me to pray for.”

She directed me to pray for her daughter. I asked if she was sick? She got teary-eyed and said, “I just got a divorce and she’s not doing well with it and I’m worried about her.”

She extended her hand and thanked me and turned away abruptly. Obviously, it was wearing heavily on her.

YOU SHOULD ASSUME.


A HOTEL FRONT DESK CLERK
My latest YOU SHOULD ASSUME encounter – May 5, 2017

Yesterday I got up at 4:45 a.m. to get ready to speak at the Red Oak National Day of Prayer breakfast.
As I walked by the hotel front desk, I decided to greet the gal behind the counter. Her name is Sandy. We had a little small talk and then I asked for directions to the meeting room where I would be speaking.
She said and pointed, “It’s about a 3-minute walk down the hallway to the left.” I said, “Thank you and oh the way, I’ve decided I’m going to pray for you while I walk that three minutes.
The look on her face was precious and she said, “did you just say you’re going to pray for me?” I smiled of course and confirmed and said, “I just need one specific thing you’d like me to pray about for you.” She just kept giving me that disbelief look and then her eyes welled up with tears and she said, “Please pray for my mom. She has cancer and is dying. It started in her lungs and now it’s in her brain.”
Oh my, I thought. How many people at that hotel were going to be served by Sandy that day, do their business, and move on with their life not ever knowing they just encountered someone who is hurting?
So, I headed to the meeting room and had the privilege of spending that 3 minutes praying for Sandy and her mom.
If you assume that every person you meet in your lifetime is hurting in some way, you’ll be right 99% of the time.
There are Divine appointments all around us every day. Is your radar up? Are you missing those opportunities to lift someone’s spirits and give them hope in the midst of their life storms?
YOU SHOULD ASSUME!
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“I PRAYED TO GOD FOR A SIGN.”

Today’s YOU SHOULD ASSUME encounter – April 30, 2017
We met this wonderful young couple and their two kids in church this morning. It was their first time so Karen and I invited them to brunch after the service.
Our waitress was a 56 year old single gal. She wore a cross neckless, so (knowing me) you can imagine I figured she opened the door 😉 , so I commented on it.
She said it was a gift from her daughter. I asked, “So, since you are so bold as to wear it in public, would you say you’re a follower of Jesus Christ?” She said, “Yes sir, I am and not ashamed to say so.” I complemented her for being so bold, especially in the times we’re in where so many people are sensitive to be offended by things like that.
I asked her if her employer is okay with her wearing the cross on the outside of her blouse and she said, “I’ve never been told I can’t, but I do think there have been some customers who may have not liked it, but I don’t care.”
I observed S. (first initial only) closely and sensed a heaviness so when she brought us our bill, I did my YOU SHOULD ASSUME thing. I told her I planned to pray for her by name as I drove home which would take me about 20 minutes and I needed just one thing she would like me to pray for.
She didn’t even hesitate and said, “My family.” I asked if there was something specific about her family that I should focus on? She was on the opposite side of our table and came around and bent over close to me and said, “I have two troubled sons who are single who live with me. One is 27 yrs. old and the other is 31 and neither one have jobs.” I could tell by her general demeanor and her complexion that this lady has had a really rough and tumble life.
I asked if her job as a waitress was enough to support them all and she confirmed that it was hard. I asked what happened to her hand and wrist because it had a stiff brace on it. She then proceeded to tell us that one of her sons attacked her and she got hurt trying to defend herself and most all her finger nails were broken off in the tussle. I asked if that happened often and she shook her head yes. It never ceases to amaze me what kind of condition some people live in.
I said, “Well now I have a better idea what to specifically pray for.” I filled out the bill and signed it and handed it back to her and she said, “You put in the wrong amount.” I said, “I’m sorry, did I leave off a zero?” She burst into tears and said, “You didn’t need to do that.” I said I absolutely did because God has blessed us and now we get to bless her AND pray for her.
She cried even more and shared that on top of her two sons, her daughter dumped her 14 year old granddaughter off at her house a few days ago and said, “you figure it out”. So now she’s not sure what she’s going to do.
She cried more while saying, “Several days ago I prayed for God to give me some sort of sign that it was going to be okay and to help me figure out what I needed to do.” “This must be HIS sign.” she said.   Both Karen and I gave her a hug.
I asked if she always works on Sunday mornings and she said yes. So, I said it must be hard to find a time to worship and she said yes. I then told her that our church was Berean Assembly of God in Pleasant Hill and we also have a Sunday service at 5:30 p.m. She said, “Really?” “I happen to live in the apartments right next to that church.” I said, “Will I see you tonight?” She said, “Yes you will.”  And that was the end of our encounter.
Once again, YOU SHOULD ASSUME. I’m learning how to BE the church. There are Divine appointments waiting to happen all around us. I was sure blessed with this one!!

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“HOW DID YOU KNOW?”

Another YOU SHOULD ASSUME encounter

Sometimes when I’m in a check-out line at a local grocery store I gaze at the customer’s cart behind or immediately next to me if I’m at the cash register getting ready to pay.  I estimate how much their groceries might cost and then I get cash back.

I then hand the money to the cashier and whisper, “I need you to use this to pay for all or part of the next customer’s grocery bill.”  I’m often asked if I know the customer and my answer is, “No, I just want to bless them because God has blessed me.”  I have one condition however that I want the cashier to wait until I am out of the store and out of sight before handing the money to the customer.  I never get to meet the folks but I do often get to hear from the cashier’s next time I’m in the store what they experienced being involved in the giving transaction and that has been part of the blessing of doing this.

Anyway, a few months ago, I did just that and exited the store having not even seen the face of the customer.  My wife was waiting for me in the car in the parking lot.   I backed my car out of the parking lane and put it in drive and slowly started to pull away when a lady came running out of the store looking left and right almost as if she was panicked.  Her eyes landed on our car and she threw her finger in the air in a demanding sort of way as if to say, “Wait a minute.”  She actually came running straight toward us and I was forced to brake as she placed both of her hand on the front of my car and once again put her finger in the air and hollered, “Please stop.”

It was at that point that Karen and I witnessed she was crying.  She hurried over to the driver side and I put my window down and propped my left elbow on the door.  She cried out, “How did you know?”  I said, “Know what?”  She said, “Somehow you must have known.  How did you know?”  Karen looked at me as if to say, “What have you done now?”

I told her I didn’t understand what she was saying.  She then shared that she stopped at that particular store to buy a card, flowers and an ornament because it was the one year anniversary of the death of her son and she was on her way to his grave-sight.

I told the grieving mother I had no idea, but evidently God knew.   She placed her hand on my arm and said, “I will never forget this.”  And off she went.

Sometimes I am so amazed at how God Divinely appoints people in our lives.

And it goes to show you once again, YOU SHOULD ASSUME.


“IT IS THE BEST FEELING EVER!”
YOU SHOULD ASSUME encounter from a reader – April 27, 2017

I received the following message yesterday from someone who has been inspired by the YOU SHOULD ASSUME encounter stories.

“David, I needed to message you and tell you I am one of the many you inspire by sharing your YOU SHOULD ASSUME encounters. I have been contemplating on what it must be like to do what you do.

So today I was put in the right place I think to do what my heart desires to do. I went to the American Eagle store in North Grand Mall in Ames today to exchange a pair of jeans.  The girl at the register looked like something was bothering her so after she was done with the transaction and before I turned away to leave I told the girl I had a question. She said, “Oh?”  I said, “I have about 10 minutes to get to my next destination and I’ve decided I am going to pray for you by name during the time it takes me to get there.”  “Could you give me one thing you would like me to pray for?”

She looked at me in awe for a few seconds and then said, “Really?” “You want to pray for me?”  I affirmed that I did and repeated that I just needed one specific thing she would like me to focus on as I prayed. She paused to think for a minute.

Another girl was on the other side of the counter and came over to where we were an asked if everything was o.k.?  My new friend was still thinking about what she wanted me to pray for and then told the other staff, “This customer lady said she is going to pray for me while she drives to her next destination and she wants to know something I’d like her to pray for.  The other girl sarcastically said, “Well you can pray for a trip I’d like to have.”  I felt like she was making fun of me or something, but then she just went back to her own business. 

My new friend then said, “I have a lot of family traveling from all over coming to town.  Could you pray for their safety while they travel?”  It wasn’t what I expected, but it was what was on this young girl’s mind and I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t ask right?  I’m so glad I did ask. 

So, I told her I would definitely do just that and I thanked her for the great job she did in helping me with the exchange.  She smiled back with the warmest smile which really warmed my heart. The thing is, I felt like I was moved by the Holy Spirit to engage this girl.

I really felt for the first time in a long time that I was BEING the church. 

You must understand that it’s just not like me to do this sort of thing, but your YOU SHOULD ASSUME stories have convicted me to be more alert to those around me and not so consumed with the activities of my own life.

I just felt a need to tell you. Thank you for inspiring me to be bold. It is the best feeling ever!  S.

I THINK WE JUST LAUNCHED ANOTHER DISCIPLE FOR CHRIST!!  Love it!


“I NEED TO WANT THAT IN MY LIFE.”

Today’s YOU SHOULD ASSUME encounter – Thursday, April 24, 2017

At the end of a phone conversation today, I told the person who called me that I planned to pray for him throughout the day and just needed one specific thing they would like me to pray for. Here is his response: “For the Lord’s will to be done for me & not have my wants and desires to jam it up.” “I really need to want that in my life every day.”

I totally loved his humble response. My guess is that if all of us strived for that every day, we would see a dramatic positive change in how we lived our lives and how it would influence the world around us.

I invite you to pause for a brief moment and lift this young man in prayer. (first initial is A.)

Thanks!

YOU SHOULD ASSUME

“I’M WEALTHIER THAN YOU COULD EVER IMAGINE.”

Today’s YOU SHOULD ASSUME encounter – Monday, April 24, 2017
I met a 76-year-old man today in a retail store I had never been before. I was just looking around and he asked if he could help me. I didn’t realize he worked there.
He was inquisitive as to how I heard of the store and I said, I was just driving by after a short business lunch and looked over to my right and saw the place and decided to come in and look around for a moment.
Before I knew it, he was sharing his faith with me – a nice refreshing turn-about actually. I listened intently as he shared about how he came to Christ some years ago at an Alpha & Omega concert in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He said it was the moments that changed his life forever.
But on his drive home, he experienced another life-changing moment when he heard an audible voice that said, “Sell everything you have and trust me with the rest.” He said it was too real to just shake it off as a figment of his imagination, because he heard it more than once.
“You need to understand” he said, “I was a very wealthy man at the time.” I asked if he followed through and he said, “of course, I had to.” At the time he lived in a mansion and had any and everything anyone would ever want in material possessions.
He said it was tough going for a number of years, but then doors of opportunity began to open – things you would never have imagined and he went on to share some pretty amazing stories of his life’s journey.
He said, “I’m now wealthier than you could ever imagine.” I’m multiple times wealthier than before I met Christ and gave it all away.” But now I’m able to help lots of people like never before.”
He asked if I was a Christian. I said, “No, I’m a follower of Christ. There’s a difference.” He smiled and said, “I get that.”
I said I needed to get back to work, but I wanted to tell him something and then ask him a question. I told him I planned to pray for him by name as I drove back, but I needed one specific thing he would like me to pray for.
His eyes changed and he became very contemplative. He said, “Would you pray for my daughters and I to reconcile before I die?” I asked, “Do you feel that time is approaching?” He then told me he had cancer and his girls don’t know all the details.
I said I would definitely pray for God to reveal Himself to his girls and guide them all to forgiveness and reconciliation. And that was it. We shook hands and did that “man hug” thing that’s more of a half embrace.
It was another one of those YOU SHOULD ASSUME encounters.
Love it!

“I’ll BE RIGHT WITH YOU SIR.”
Today’s YOU SHOULD ASSUME encounter – Sunday, April 23, 2017

I first want to say that I’m sharing these encounters more because the feed-back has been so positive and it seems to be a source of inspiration to many of you.  I have actually started a YOU SHOULD ASSUME Blog on my ivebeenthereministries.com website now and will continue to add current and past encounters.  My hope is that more folks will step out and PROCLAIM their faith through this simple introduction and conversation motivator technic.  I’d also love to hear your Divine encounters when you do.

So…..I had my weekly meeting with one of my health coach clients after church at the Village Inn in Altoona.  She was interested in hearing more about my YOU SHOULD ASSUME encounters and how I got involved.  Before she left, I gave her an assignment to have her radar up this next week and bring her YOU SHOULD ASSUME encounter to share with me during our next meeting.  She hesitantly agreed. 😊

She left for a meeting and I waited for the bill.  I stood up and paused and looked around the dining area and I landed on the hostess named Keesh.  I noticed her when I first arrived.  She was extremely busy with a VERY long line of customers waiting to pay for their meal.  At the time she was the only one at a register.  Despite what could have been a stressful situation, she sure didn’t show it and even paused to acknowledge me by saying, “I’ll be right with you sir.”  I was impressed.  You see, I use to teach customer service on the corporate level some years ago, so I’m especially tuned into little things like that.

So when it came time to pay for my bill, I was the only one and so I took the opportunity to praise her for her exceptional gift in customer relations and that I was tuned into that sort of thing because of my teaching past.  She was pleased to receive the affirmation and validation.  She asked me, “Was everything alright for you today?”  I said, “Yes, but I need to tell you something and then ask a question.”  She became very eye contact focused on me.  I said, “I need someone to pray for while I drive home which will take 15 minutes and I’ve decided it’s going to be you.”  Her response was, “Really? Me?”  I said, yes mam, but I need you to tell me just one thing that you’d like me to pray about for you.”  She didn’t hesitate.  She said, “Pray for my personal growth.”  I found that to be a peculiar statement so (as I tend to do) I followed up with a question about what that meant.  She told me she was a senior in college in Ames and was studying hospitality services for her major.  I affirmed her again, but asked what “personal growth” meant to her.  It was then that she got teary-eyed and said that she had moved to Des Moines from Chicago in 2009 after her mothers and then her sister both died in a short span of time and that she has yet to grieve about it.  She said, “I need to get stuff sorted out about it cause it’s always on my mind.”  I asked her if she was a person of faith.  She said, “No.  I mean yes, I mean, well, I want to be.”  I asked what that meant.  She said she grew up being bounced from foster family to foster family and had intermittent exposure to the Christian faith.  I asked if part of her “personal growth” comment had anything to do with a desire to grow closer to God.  Again, she got teary-eyed and said, “Yes, but I’m not sure how to do that.”  Oh my, I thought!!  I then leaned forward and shared Jeremiah 29:13 where God’s word says, “You will seek me and find me WHEN you seek me with all your heart.”  I asked her if she was seeking and she nodded yes.  I ask if she had a church home in Ames and she said she did not, so I said, I would also be praying about that.  She said, “That’s good.”

I gave her my I’VE BEEN THERE Ministries business card and encouraged her to contact me if she ever needed someone to talk to about the loss she has yet to deal with.  She said, “Thanks, you’ve just made my day.”  And that was it.  I enjoyed my drive home praying for Keesh.

So, there ya go again……..If you assume that every person you meet is hurting in some way, you’ll be right 99% of the time.  Divine appointment opportunities are all around us every single day of the year.

As followers of Christ we can BE the church in some of the simplest ways.   Yes?

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED WHEN I ASKED
Another YOU SHOULD ASSUME encounter – April 21, 2017

Yesterday, I had lunch with my friend Bill in a quaint coffee shop in Beaverdale.   I was sharing about my YOU SHOULD ASSUME encounters and told him I was planning to pray for him as I drove back to the office and (of course) asked him to share one specific thing he’d like me to pray for.  He said, “please pray for my friend’s in Missouri whose 19 year old daughter Anna is dying and the doctors have been scratching their heads trying to figure out what on earth this precious girl has.  He said they’ve done every test under the sun.  They thought it might be a rare disease called POTTS.  I inquired more about her symptoms and it sure sounded like Lyme’s Disease to me – often referred to as the “masking disease” and often misdiagnosed as other illnesses.

The reason I mentioned it is because my wife Karen suffered with Lyme’s for about ten years and it just about took her to her grave until God led her to a place right here in Des Moines that had an unconventional approach to Lyme’s that cured her after only four treatments.  I said, the problem with the Lyme’s Disease thing is that it’s taken our government and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to acknowledge the growing epidemic in our country and therefore emerging treatments like this have not been tested for their approval.  I also said that Karen was originally tested for Lyme’s but it came back negative including the “big place” in Rochester, but that we found out there were 3-4 other ways to test for it and one of them finally concluded that she was in fact infected.  Bill said that it was amazing to him that I would even bring that up because this young gal had also received an initial negative Lyme’s test, but recently a new and different test has come back confirming she has Lyme’s and now her doctors are reconsidering their initial POTTS diagnosis.  Today, the father of Anna was able to connect with mywife Karen who is connecting them with the place that she feels God used to cure her from her Lyme’s Disease.  It warmed my heart to hear this father expression of gratitude for this information and even more so as Karen prayed with him over the phone.

This is the kind of thing that happens when you tell someone you’re going to pray for them and ask for one thing to pray for.  There are Divine appointments all around us.  I call them YOU SHOULD ASSUME encounters.

EXPANDING THE CIRCLE

I didn’t even know he was reading my FB page.  Today he emailed me his YOU SHOULD ASSUME encounter and it dampened my eyes.  I have received his permission to share it with you w/o his name hoping to encourage others.

RECEIVED ON THURSDAY, APRIL 20, 2017: 

Hey David. I just wanted to reach out to you and say thank you. I have been reading your “YOU SHOULD ASSUME” encounters on your Facebook page and have been really thinking a lot about that. I should also note that going up to complete strangers and striking up a conversation is way outside my comfort zone, to say the least.

So today I was searching for a certain item I needed for my shop and decided to stop by a gas station that I never go to because it’s not on the route I usually travel. I pulled into a parking spot and as I was getting out I noticed there was a van parked a space away with only a lady sitting in the driver’s seat and she looked as if she was upset or even crying.

I turned away and went inside the convenience store, but immediately felt guilty about not going over to check on her. I, of course, argued with God about this for a few minutes while I was in the store and finally said, “Okay God, if you want me to talk to her then she will still be sitting out there when I go back outside.”

Well, guess what? She was still there in the van when I went back out. I just started to walk straight to my car and distinctly heard God say, “Really? You’re just gonna get in your car and drive away?” So, I turned around and headed over to the van to the ladies driver side window. She reluctantly rolled the window down just a small crack but it was enough for me to ask her if she was doing ok. Through tears, she said yes that she was fine. She was just having a bad day and needed a good cry. I told her I could understand that. And then I said but keep your head up because there’s a God in heaven that loves you.

Then the window starts to roll down a little further and she responded that she knew God loved her.  So, I decided to use your technique David and said that I was going to be heading to work and for the next ten minutes I would be praying for her by name while I drove back. I asked for her first name and something specific to pray about. She told me her name was J. (first initial only to protect her name) and that she needed prayer for her marriage.

I told her that at one time my marriage was almost dead and that the God I serve was mighty enough and loving enough to save it. And that He could do the same for hers. I said that I attend a church just up the road and that we would love for her and her husband to come by. She nodded in agreement.

I asked if she was a praying woman. She said yes. I asked if she prayed for her husband. She said yes. I asked her if he knew that. She just stared at me for a few seconds and more tears began to well up. I said that maybe she should let him know that she is praying for him and their marriage. She nodded in agreement.

At this point I said, “ok J. I am going to head back to work and I am going to pray for you and your husband and your marriage”. She said, “his name is B.” and then asked my name.  I told her my name. She thanked me and off I went.

I got in the car and immediately began thanking God and praising Him and praying for Jamie and Brian all the way back to work. I almost had to pull over because it was getting hard to see through the tears.

God is so good! To allow me to be a part of His plan is such a blessing and honor. Thanks for sharing your encounters with everyone David. It gave me the courage to step out of my comfort zone and try and BE the Church (Jesus) to someone today.  WE SHOULD ASSUME.

K.  (1st initial only) April 18, 2017

So I was out and about today and found myself in this office complex and approached the 1st floor receptionist.   As I normally do, I attempted to engage in some way after she greeted me.  I purposely paused awkwardly as our eyes met.  I asked how she was doing and she shrugged her shoulders and slowly turned her head side to side and looked down saying, “Not so good.”   Then more awkward silence.  I said, “Work not so good uh?”  “Work is fine actually.” “It’s home.”  I probed (which is pretty common for me) by asking, “The Mr.?”  She said yes, “We’re just on different paths right now and it’s hard.”

I often wonder how I manage to run into these people almost on a daily basis.  I guess I do know why actually, cause I refer to them as Divine Appointments AND because I know if I assume that every person I meet is hurting in some way, I’ll be right 99% of the time.  And in my experience, that’s just about right.

I felt rushed to get going, but how could I cut off a conversation with someone who just risked sharing a hurt with me?

So, I turned to my tried and true approach and said, “I tell you what, I’m going to be driving home and it’ll take me about 15 minutes to get there.  I’ve decided just now I’m going to pray for you by name while I’m driving.  But don’t worry, I don’t close my eyes while I’m praying and driving.” 😊  (She kind of smiled) I said, “What I need from you is this; Give me one thing, just one thing you would like me to pray for.”   She gave me a forlorn look and said, “Peace. I need peace.”  And then she asked if she could give me another thing.  I said of course and she said, “I also need hope.”  “I need peace and I need hope.”  THERE AGAIN, YOU SHOULD ASSUME!  I’m trying to learn how to BE the church.

THE HAT THAT OPENED A DOOR

I was driving on I35 in northern Iowa and stopped for gas.  I normally just pay at the pump and head on out, but this time I decided to go inside to kill some time.  I didn’t really need anything.  I just like to look around for interesting gadgets, etc.  I was getting ready to leave when I saw a display of Christian hats and t-shirts.  I was surprised to see this hat displayed in a convenience store, especially the way our culture seems to be more intolerant of bold expressions of Christianity.  This hat caught my eye because I’m always looking for stuff that might catch people’s attention and turn into an interesting conversation.  Aside from the large letters of the word BLESSED, you have to look carefully to see the “fine print” underneath where it says Jeremiah 17:7.  That weekend my wife and I decided to take in a movie.  On the way out I got caught holding the door for some folks behind me which turned out to be a long line of folks pouring out of the theater.  You know the feeling, right?  You feel obligated to hang onto the door until you find a gap in the line to let the door close.  But this time, there wasn’t any comfortable moment to let go of the door, so I decided to become the Walmart-type guy and thanked everyone for coming. 😊  Finally, the line slowed down and the last couple came out and I let the door shut.  The husband of the last couple said to me, “I like your hat”.   Playing coy, I asked what exactly he liked about it and he said, “I like what it says, BLESSED.”  So I told him where I bought it and we had a light moment.  Then I asked if he noticed the fine print below the word BLESSED?  He had not and came closer to me.  He read it out loud saying, “Jeremiah 17:7.”  I waited for a second or two hoping he’d probe and he did by asking, “What is Jeremiah 17:7?”  I told him it says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord.”  He smiled and he and his wife looked at each other as if to say, “Now what?”  So I simply asked if he was a blessed man and he said, “Yes I am.”  “I know the Lord.”  We then did a semi man hug and handshake.  I told him I was proud of him for boldly professing his Christian faith.  And he said, “Thanks for wearing that hat.” I LOVE THOSE DIVINE APPOINTMENTS!!

Mary – April 17, 2017

It was a beautiful sunny day today!  I came home from work and immediately changed into my walking attire.  I decided (for whatever reason) to sway from my normal route.  On my way back I passed a house where a lady was sitting on her patio reading.  She looked up and smiled and I smiled back.  She said, “I like your shirt”.   I said, “you like the color black?”  She laughed out loud and answered back, “No, I like the words on your t-shirt.”  The words were actually what I have on my car’s license plate which is IM4HOPE.   I decided this must be my Divine appointment for the day, so I walked closer to her and said, “Yep, we all need hope.  Do you have hope?”  She said she did.  I asked, “What gives you hope?”  She said, “My faith.”  I inquired what that was and she said she was a Christian.   I thanked her for being so bold as to say so.  She asked what I do and I said I am on a fearless pursue of what sets my soul on fire.  She asked what that was and I said, I seek to bring hope to those who are hurting.  She confessed that she and her husband don’t go to church much anymore.  She grew up going to church every Sunday, but that all stopped when her father committed suicide.  She said she prays every night.  I asked what she prays about and she said, most thanking God for her blessings but also her husband and his health.  I asked if her husband knew she prayed for him and she said, “he probably wouldn’t care and tell me not to waste my time.”  I encouraged her to remind him every so often that she does pray for him.  I asked her if he was a Christian.  She said she thought he was.  I asked if she thought he would say he is a Christian and she said he probably would.  I asked if she thought he would say he’s a follower of Jesus Christ?  She said, she didn’t know.  I asked if she would describe herself as a follower of Jesus Christ and she said, “Yes, but not such a good one.”  I said I was going to pray for her tonight and asked if she could share just one thing she would like me to pray for.  She said, “I worry about my husband’s health.”  I asked if she meant, spiritual, emotional, mental or physical health.  She smiled and said, “All the above.”

IF YOU ASSUME THAT EVERY PERSON YOU MEET IN YOUR LIFETIME IS HURTING IN SOME WAY, YOU’LL BE RIGHT 99% OF THE TIME.

I’m trying to learn how to BE the church.

J. (First initial only) – April 16, 2017

I used to see her about once a year around Easter time when she volunteers to help serve a meal to homeless and impoverished folks.  I hadn’t seen her however for the past several years.   Because of the busy movement of 75 volunteers moving around and four times as many meal guests from the community we hardly had a chance to talk.  As she was getting ready to head home she came over and gave me a big hug and thanked me for the privilege of serving at the shelter.  As I normally do, I read her eyes and thought I saw a heaviness.  (I just believe the eyes are the windows to the soul.)  I said, I was planning to pray for her by name as I drove home and wanted to know one thing she would like me to pray about.  Her eyes welled up with tears and said, “Please pray for my children.”  I asked specifically what to pray for and she said that they are all adults, but all have lives that are a wreck.  Her two sons are alcoholics and her daughter is living in an abusive relationship.  She said it is so hard to watch and there’s nothing she can do.

There are Divine Appointments all around us.  If you assume that every person you meet is hurting in some way, you’ll be right 99% of the time.  If we try to live a life of being purposeful and intentional in being aware of our surroundings, those Appointments will become visible. ONCE AGAIN……YOU SHOULD ASSUME!

“I’M A PAGAN”
(Name withheld to protect the young man’s identity) – April 15, 2017

I went to a grocery store to get a couple of buckets of chicken for our family Easter meal and fellowship at our home.  The staff waiting on me was a nice and polite young man.   I’m going to choose not to share his name because of the potential sensitivity of our encounter.   As I normally do, I asked if he was having a good day and he nodded yes.  We kind of had a light moment when I said I wanted my 20-piece order to be half roasted chicken and half fried.  He said, “well we have four chicken piece choices which include legs, thighs, wings and breasts.  He said that if we did that equally it would total 16 pieces and wanted to know how I wanted to split up the remaining four to make the total of 20.  I said, that my head was starting to hurt because the whole situation reminded me of those math problems from high school that I could never figure out.

(You know how it goes….If you have four chicken piece options and two types of chicken and want half of one type and half of another for a total of 20 pieces, what combination would you use to achieve an equal split of type and pieces?)

We both started to laugh.  He said, “well I know about a hurting head since I’ve had 17 head injuries in my life and my doctor said if I had one more I could die.”  I couldn’t believe it.  I asked him how old he was and he said 19.  Then he rattled off the 17 head injury episodes.   I began to think that perhaps he might be a potential candidate for an I’VE BEEN THERE Ministries talk show interview where I preserve testimonies to God’s faithfulness. So I told him about how I look for potential people to invite on my show.  I took the plunge and asked if he had a faith.  He said, “yes, I’ve read the entire book three times.”  I asked, “you mean the Bible?”  He said, yes.  I then asked, “so you’re a Christian then?”  He said, “No, I’m of the pagan faith” and stared intently at me.  I was in unfamiliar territory and found myself tongue-tied.    So, to clarify I asked, “So you don’t believe in God?”  He confirmed I was correct.  I remembered a quote I recently heard and shared it with him which goes like this, “Well, whether one believes in God or doesn’t believe in God – either way it requires a leap of faith.”  He just smiled and nodded.   I said, “tomorrow is my favorite day of the year.  It means a lot to me.”  He asked what tomorrow was and I said, “I call it Resurrection Sunday.  Some call it Easter.”  He handed me my bucket of chicken and wished me a good day.   As I walked away, I just couldn’t shake it off so I did an about face and headed back to the counter and signaled to get his attention.  He came over and asked if he could help me and I said, “Well, I just wanted you to know that it’s going to take me about 8 minutes to drive home and I plan to pray for you by name.”  He said, “okay” and shrugged his shoulders.  I said, “I just need one specific thing you would like me to pray about.”  He didn’t even hesitate.  He said, “I would ask you to pray for my girlfriend.”  I was shocked he even said the words, I would ask you to pray.  I then inquired what specifically I should pray for and he said, “Her health” and he looked down.  I asked, “So you’re concerned for her health?”   He simply nodded yes but no eye-contact.  I said I would most definitely do that but added, “I’m also going to pray that you never have another head injury because I believe God has special plans for your life.”  I then patted him on the shoulder and said, “It’s been good meeting you.  You’re a nice young man. You seem to have a good heart. Stay safe Brother.”   ONCE AGAIN, YOU SHOULD ASSUME!!”Believing in God or not believing in God – either way it requires a leap of faith.”

Tony – April 14, 2017

Sent through Facebook Private Messenger:

“Hello David, just seeing if you’d throw a pray up. I’ve got some health issues. I’ve got to stay in bed all weekend because of a pressure sore. Also I’ve got some bad bacteria in my guts which has made me sick the past couple months. God willing the drs will get me straighten out. I’ll miss Easter service

Deb – April 14, 2017 – Divine Appointment

Lunch at HyVee.  She had rung up my order and was now sitting in the dining room eating her lunch alone.  I grabbed a cup of water and was walking back and our eyes met and I greeted her and she smiled back.  I walked a few more steps toward my booth and felt a prompting to come back to her table.  I greeted her again and said, “you look deep in thought.  I plan to pray for you by name when I drive home after lunch.”  She said, “You’re going to pray for me?”  I confirmed yes and asked if she might give me one specific thing to pray for.  As the tears fell, she said, her nephew had killed her mother-in-law and had just pleaded guilty and was looking at 30-40 years in prison.  She said, “life is just so hard some days.”  ONCE AGAIN, YOU SHOULD ASSUME.

Jen – April 13, 2017 – Divine Appointment

We talked for a good 45 minutes over lunch and I needed to get back to the office, so I told her I planned to pray for her by name as I drove back and needed just one thing I could pray for.  Her response, “WOW!  I didn’t expect that.  Thank you for asking.  My husband and I need wisdom in knowing how to deal with our 11 year old son.  It’s so hard raising a young boy.”  ONCE AGAIN, YOU SHOULD ASSUME!

Del – April 13, 2017 – Divine Appointment

I had just put in my order at Smokey Row Coffee House and was getting my water when I looked to my left and saw a gal that I was sure I knew.  I moved a bit closer just to make sure and then in my sarcastic voice I said, “could you get out of my way mam, you’re blocking progress here!” 😊  She was alarmed of course and immediately stepped aside and looked straight at me and then threw her arms around me saying how great it was to see me after so many years.  Her eyes told me she had a heavy burden.  “What should I be praying for you by name as I drive back to my office?”  She began to cry and said her life was in turmoil and wasn’t sure what to do about it.   ONCE AGAIN, YOU SHOULD ASSUME!

Dennis – April 11, 2017 – Divine Appointment

During the same time at the Sports Bar in Des Moines chatting with a guy friend a fella shows up and asks where the Christian men’s fellowship meeting was.  We said, “you’re looking at it.” 😊  He asked where everybody was and I said, “we’re it for tonight I guess.”  The three of us chatted for about 30 minutes.  I asked what prompted him to come and he said his wife urged him to.  I told him I was planning to pray for him by name as I drove home tonight.  He shut his eyes and a tear latterly popped through his eye-lid and more tears began to roll down his cheek.  I said, “wow, your eyes just changed.  What’s that all about?”  He said he just hadn’t had someone offer that to him ever before in his life.  I said I needed just one thing he would like me to pray for and he said, “I need wisdom in learning how to understand my wife.”  We talked a bit more and the three of us prayed together.  ONCE AGAIN, YOU SHOULD ASSUME!!

Tonja – April 11, 2017 – another Divine appointment

I was sitting at a Sports Bar in Des Moines chatting with a guy friend.  The only thing I ordered was water.  The waitress was very kind and attentive even though I didn’t order anything off the menu.   As I was planning to leave I asked her to bring me a bill for $1.00 for my water.  She insisted that was not necessary but I insisted it was.  She came back with my bill and I gave her a $100 tip.  She burst into tears and said, “You don’t have to do that.”  I said, “Yes I do, because God blessed me with the joy of giving and now I want to bless you.”  She asked me, “How did you know?”  I asked, “Know what?”  She said, “What I’m going through right now.”  I told her I had no idea what she was going through.

I announced to her that I planned to pray for her by name on my 20 minute drive home and asked if she could give me just one thing to pray for.  She asked me why I would pray for her because I didn’t even know her.  I said, “because I get to.”  😊 She said, “would you mind praying for my soon-to-be ex-husband?”  I told her that I was surprised that she would deflect a prayer for herself to someone else and that she had just revealed her heart.  I told her she had a good heart.  She cried and said, “yes I do, but I just couldn’t take the abuse any longer.”  I said I would pray for peace of mind for her ex-husband but also for her peace of mind and that God would reveal Himself to her in a powerful way, open up doors of opportunity and grant her peace.  ONCE AGAIN, YOU SHOULD ASSUME!!!

WHERE DID MY WAITRESS GO?

So I’m sitting on the deck of the Legends Restaurant in Pleasant Hill, Iowa with a co-worker over our lunch hour.  Our waitress was a 20 something gal who was very attentive and kept my water filled which is my biggest issue in restaurants. 🙂

It came time for the bill and she came back and politely handed it to me but there was just something about her that didn’t just seem right, so I went into my “schpeel” and told her that I decided I was going to pray for her by name while I drove back to my office which would take about 7 minutes.  She put both of her hands on her chest and said, “You’re going to pray for me?”  “Why me?”  “You hardly know me.”  Well I said I just felt the spirit impress upon me to do that, but I needed just one specific thing she wanted me to pray for.   Her eyes welled up with tears and she said, “I’ll have to think about that” and off she went.  We waited for several minutes and then another waitress came to our table and said, “I can take that for you.”  I asked, “where did our waitress go?”  She stammered and said that she needed to take a break.  Hmmm.  Well, I wasn’t gonna just let it go, so I paid the bill and told my co-worker, I’d see her back at the office.

(Now you need to understand something….I’ve always told my kids, you can enter any establishment with confidence and just about run the place and no-one will question it.)

So I went to the back where the kitchen was,  acting like I was the boss (as in the TV show Undercover Boss?) and complimented the staff on a nice job and how great the place looked and told them to keep it up and I’ll be sure to put in a good report. 🙂

My waitress was no where to be found, so I kept walking through the kitchen and exited out the back hallway and low and behold there she was sitting toward the back leaning up against the wall with her head buried in her elevated knees literally weeping.  I walked up to her and stood over her and (in a forceful voice) said, “You haven’t told me that one thing I need to pray for.”  She popped her head up and in a fearful kind of voice said, “What the hell are you doing back here?” (Sorry about including that word, but it’s what happened).  I said I had been waiting for her to come back to my table and when I realized that you weren’t coming back I came looking for her.  She said, “Are you crazy or something?”  I said, some people probably think I am.  So I sat down next to her in the hallway (suit coat, tie and all) and asked, “What’s going on?”  She then proceeded to tell me then what she couldn’t bring herself to tell me out on the deck in front of all the customers.  She said, she had actually planned to have that day be her last day working there because she had a plan to commit suicide that very night.   Naturally, I was alarmed and we sat in silence for a few minutes.  I inquired as to what could possibly make life so miserable that she would take her own life?   It had to do with losing her 2nd job and she needed that income and didn’t see any way out.  So, I stood up and asked her to stand up with me and I ordered her (in a fatherly forceful voice) to look me in the eyes which she did.  And then I said, “Repeat these words after me.”  “I promise I will not today or not ever take my own life”.  I told her I wasn’t going to leave until I heard her say those words.  And she did.  I gave her a hug and said thanks for letting me know how I could pray for her.

One year later my wife and I were at the same restaurant for dinner.  This waitress walked by our table and I swear I had met her before.  Karen even asked me if I knew her.  I waited until she came back and stopped her and asked, “Have we met before?”  And she just about jumped into my lap and said loudly, “It’s you!”  “You’re the guy.”  And I said, “You’re alive!” and we hugged.  And then she proceeded to tell me all the positive things that had come into her life since our first encounter.

All I can say once again is YOU SHOULD ASSUME!!

“If you assume that every person you encounter in your life is hurting in some way, you will be right 99% of the time.” Pastor Larry Trachte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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