Greetings! Each year seems to have its particular surprises, and even its particular theme as God moves in the sphere of human affairs. The year 1997 revealed an especial emphasis on answered prayer that had me truly amazed. The past few years have also revealed answers to prayer I had prayed many years ago, but then especially in the '80s as God brought me into contact not only with former high school acquaintances, but also with some I had known way back in grammar school! Through the Internet I became reacquainted with 2 former army buddies I had known in Munich, Germany back in the early '60s. The opportunity to witness which I had prayed for left me amazed.
This year (1997) I spent some time with my sister and her husband in Ohio. I had not seen her in 8-9 years. The occasion was the wedding of her son, Donny. At a church service after the wedding (they asked me to take the photos, which God really blessed - they turned out so well!), I contemplated God's wonderful answer to prayer. On my right was my sister, Sylvia, whose salvation I had prayed for 12 years till she gave her heart to the Lord in '81. Toward the end of that time, after her first husband had died, I had prayed for a godly man to come into her life and help lead her to God. Carl, the answer to that prayer and my sister's husband for the past 15 years or so, was sitting to her right. I had also prayed that they find a good church home, and the one whose service we were attending was the answer to that prayer. They have enthusiastically attended it for some years now, and Carl is now a deacon there. And of course, I had been praying for my sister's 3 children, and my nephew, Donny, sitting to my left (who had given his heart to Jesus the previous Thanksgiving) was an answer to that prayer that is still ongoing for his brother and sister. The woman he had just married - Gloria, a godly woman - was a member of my sister's church.
Of course God answers prayer here in Oakland as well. I daily take the bus to work and have some opportunities to share my faith in addition to leaving tracts on the bus. Earlier this year I met a Chinese lady I had not seen in many months. She recognized me and sat down next to me. To my surprise, she began sharing that she was attending a Chinese church, and added that it was good to meditate on Jesus Christ, for "He is the only way!", she said. My eyes got wide as I told her, "But I remember so many months ago I tried to tell you about that, but you told me you had rejected God and had decided to become an atheist." (She had told me that very loudly and heatedly, as a matter of fact.) "I know," she humbly replied, "I was wrong!" I told her, "I prayed for you." Just that one bit of testimony, though it does not stand alone, is certainly nevertheless by itself worth the 6 years I have lived here in Oakland. Oakland is not a place I would "choose" to live in, there is very much turmoil and tragedy here, but God (those 2 little words have come to be very meaningful in my life) is doing a very good work here.
"Suppose one of you has 100 sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the 99 in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous persons who do not need to repent."
Ring of Christians