As I finished the May 2021 newsletter I added three broad, general prayer requests for the ministry. I reviewed the whole letter, carefully saved the copy, and closed the file, ready to send it out in the next couple of days. The three prayer requests were as follows:
Please pray specifically that God will provide diverse applicants in the interview process, contributing to the overall ministry in ways beyond future staffing.
In addition, please pray that opportunities to share the ministry of Atlas with individuals, churches, and agencies will be easily established, well received, and fruitful.
And finally, please pray that we will begin to encounter a steady flow of people who need our help.
Immediately as I closed the file the phone rang and it was the director of a government agency that I had shared Atlas with. She told me of a homeless man who had been living in his car at a local establishment and the name of his boss. I hung up and went to check it out.
I found the car but not the man. I went in and asked to see the manager. He allowed me into his office without explanation and we talked. I told him why I was there, quickly shared what Atlas was about, and asked if there was anything I could do for the man. He then openly shared his Christian heart for others and took my information to give to the man if he wanted to contact me.
A recent agency contact proved to be meaningful, suggesting a person in need. It provided the opportunity to share Atlas with someone from the community, someone receptive to the possibilities. And it provided a potential client. Three quick answers to two of the prayer requests.
I returned to my office and as I did, my phone rang again. This time it was a homeless mother of five who had been referred to me by a homeless shelter that did not take families. Again there was a past ministry connection referring another potential client. I was able to set up a meeting with the mother for the next morning. Two more answers to the same two requests.
One of our communities biggest problems is the lack of emergency housing for people experiencing homelessness. I had begun work with an area church camp to utilize their facilities in the off-season and we had a plan but had only begun the discussions. They had wanted to wait until the camping season kicked off to begin serious discussions. A homeless mother with five children seemed like a really good experiment to see how the proposal might work. Perhaps an additional pending answer to the requests.
I met with the mother the next morning and assessed her situation. She had been asked to leave her winter rental a month early because the summer renters wanted it sooner. She had been living in a motel for three weeks and her money was gone. She had four days of places to stay but then would be fully homeless. We prayed together and went to work.
In a pastor's prayer group I learned that the ministerial association had agreed to provide a rent deposit for a homeless mother of five. It was to be administered through another local government agency. She was told what to do but the agency was not informed so she had been rejected. Armed with all this information, I was referred to the pastor that these pastors thought would know what might be going on. I went to his church and found out that he was on vacation for a week. I was asked if I would like to speak to the associate pastor and I agreed. As I share the story and about Atlas I found out that the associate pastor was the chairperson to the ministerial association.
We concluded that we would put the deposit donation on hold (no apartment located) and wait until I could clarify the need. We even discussed the possibility of Atlas being the agency that administered the funding provided by the association. Again a quick answer to one of the prayer requests.
That same day, another pastor called me with two names of people that he thought would be potential full or part- time paid Atlas ministry staff. Two other individuals that I had contact with in the next couple of days provided two additional potential employee names.
Four more answers to the remaining prayer request.
Three requests. Three answers in minutes followed by two more. Numerous other answers in the following days and then a shower of potential staff people as well. What I saw as general long term prayer requests for ministry supporters to offer if moved became answered prayers almost before the newsletter was ever sent out.
God is a God of surprises if we are carefully watching for His intervention in our lives. Sometimes his intervention is so amazing that we can't miss it even when we are not looking. Thank you Lord, for the early surprises and I continue to watch each day for the way you continue to touch the Atlas of the Lakes Area ministry.