I will try to do the story about our new brother in Christ justice....
On the first night of Beach Reach, I met a guy named Chris while serving with the street team. During our conversation, the topic of faith came up and he began to debate with me about Christianity. Chris claimed to be a Lutheran, but it became very apparent that he had no real relationship with God simply because he really didn't believe in Him.
By the grace of God, I was able to answer all of his questions, but the conversation ended abruptly as the van pulled up to take him home. I honestly felt as if there was no way he would come to know the Lord any time soon. However, two nights later I briefly ran into him and he told me he had started to read the Bible because of our conversation the previous night. This was about all of our interaction at that point.
The next night, just as we thought we had finished up all the van rides for the evening, we had one more group of party-goers want a ride. So four of us had to pile out of the van and wait for it to return. Within a couple minutes, Chris had left the party at the hotel we were, walked over to us and began to talk with us. We spoke for a few minutes, beginning to debate again unprofitably.
At that point, we asked him what it would take for him to believe in God. He sarcastically said, "A palm tree would have to fall right now, it would have to start raining and God would have to break my arm and heal it." He then got serious and admitted it would have to be faith.... God would have to give him faith to believe in Him. We asked if we could pray that God would grant him faith, and he said yes. We gathered around him and asked our powerful God, who alone can grant faith to the stone-hearted, to give him faith.
A few minutes after we prayed this, a massive cold front hit with gusty wind and knocked down a huge palm tree leaf, which landed right next to Chris. Then about a minute later it started to rain. If you are quicker than we were at the time, you will see that these are two of the things Chris said he'd have to see to believe in God.
After we decided to move the conversation indoors, Chris abruptly left. Exhausted and confused, we prayed over him and left. Later that night, Chris texted me saying, "Thank you." I promptly said no problem and asked him what happened. He simply sent a text back saying, "I don't know, faith maybe." At this point I was excited and invited him to lunch the next day; he agreed to come.
Later that night, we learned he actually broke his hand (which if you are still following fits all three of Chris' things he said he'd have to see to have faith, minus the healing so far). The next day at lunch, I got to know Chris a little better. I learned he came from a very broken home (he is 19) in Detroit and had the perception of God's attitude towards him being (to quote), "you dug this hole yourself, now you have to get out of it."
His openness about his broken and painful past opened the perfect door for me to share with him how God did not leave him on his own, but actually entered into our suffering through Jesus. I got to share the entire Gospel with him for the first time; he had never heard it before. He was amazed with the story of what Jesus had done for him, but at the time wasn't ready to receive Christ.
Later that night, Chris got into our van during our last night of van rides. He told one of our students he was now a Christian and had called all of his family in Detroit to tell them! He got out of the van to go into the party, but after we prayed that God would change his desires and make parties no longer fun, he came out 10-15 minutes later saying he just didn't enjoy it anymore! Chris sat and talked with us for about 45 minutes and we prayed over him. We all pieced together what God had done the night before, and prayed the Lord would finish all that Chris had asked by asking Him to heal his hand.
I'm currently still in communication with Chris and am trying to get him connected to a ministry up in Michigan along with walking with him in Scripture readings. God moved in such powerful amazing ways in his life this last week. This guy went from skeptical of the existence of God to knowing God Himself in five days. Praise God!!!!
There are many other stories to be shared, but for the sake of time, we will save them for another day. All in all, we witnessed the marvelous faithfulness of God to orchestrate things we never could have in our human flesh. His Word says,
"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing...If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love." John 15:1-9
We truly saw that apart from Him we can do nothing.... all our conversations and divine meetings, Chris' faith and our students' understanding of the Kingdom were from The Vine. We are only His branches through whom, for some gloriously mysterious reason, He chooses to work through.
Chase Woodhouse and his wife are a part of the Rice BSM and served on Beach Reach, Week 1. This piece was originally a letter shared with their supporters.