From the book, 101 Inspirational Stories of the Power of Prayer
Available as Paperback or Kindle
During a transition period in my ministry as a nurse and teacher, I experienced a prompting from the Holy Spirit that took me completely by surprise. At the time, I was not working because I was undergoing intensive therapy for a back injury. Physical pain and fatigue prevented me from taking on a consistent work schedule, so I prayed for God to show me what His will was for me during this period.
Soon I began volunteering at a soup kitchen in the basement of an old abandoned school in a neighboring parish. While I was there, I decided to re-open the clothing dispensary room that had been closed because of a lack of volunteer help. The need for clothing was so great that I began working more hours there each day.
One Friday afternoon the director approached me and asked if I would consider opening a family resource center in the room next to the clothing room. However, there would be no allocation of funds for this project—nothing for construction and no operational or program budget. I wondered how I could even consider saying yes to something as big as this.
Part of me wanted very much to do this but I hesitated, concerned that I would begin the project and not be able to keep it up because of my back problem. I told the director that I would pray about it and consider his proposal over the weekend.
As soon as I returned to the convent, I went to the chapel and asked God to make it clear to me what I should do. Aside from communal prayer and Divine Office, my usual way of praying was to sit in silence and pray contemplatively. However, this was becoming more difficult because sitting for any length of time caused the pain in my back to become more severe.
As I prayed, I united my pain with the passion of Christ and asked Him to accept the pain as prayer. My awareness of the pain dimmed as my mind focused on the many needy people of St. John Parish.
God’s answer was yes, a resource center would open in this inner city parish. It would provide information and referral services for housing, jobs, and alcohol and drug programs. Emergency assistance and health resources would be available, as well as peer group support in the areas of family violence, women’s self-esteem, and counseling. The center would offer special programs for nutrition education, parenting, stress reduction, and spiritual resources.
But I still wasn’t convinced that God was calling me to coordinate this project. I asked God for a clear sign of His plan, one that I could not mistake. Then the thought came to me that there would have to be a doorway in the wall that separated the clothing room from what would be the resource center. Plus we would need to build a small office in the room for private consultation. All this would cost money.
At the very moment that the need for a doorway came to my mind, the telephone rang. The voice on the other end said, “Hello, this is Frank. You don’t know me, but I was talking to the director at St. John’s Soup Kitchen and he told me that you were considering opening a family resource center there.”
“Frank, I’m just thinking about it but haven’t decided yet,” I said.
“Well, if you should decide to accept the position, the first thing you will need is a doorway in the wall between the two rooms.”
I couldn’t believe my ears! This had to be my answer from God!
“That’s a great idea, Frank, but we have no money for construction or anything else.”
Frank then went on to inform me that he was a retired construction worker and would gladly put in the door and build whatever else was needed. He could get all the supplies donated and he would do all the work without cost.
“Frank, can you meet me at the resource center in an hour?”
“Sure,” he said.
So there we were together planning the layout of the future resource center. Every time I reminded him that we had no money he would say, “Not to worry, we’ll have all that we need.”
Within two weeks, we were ready to open.
The next thing we needed was a volunteer coordinator and volunteers. God sent Priscilla to me the very day that I was wondering where I would find someone willing to volunteer to coordinate all the volunteers we would need. This woman had all of the necessary gifts for this role, and was a delight to work with four days every week.
From humble beginnings, God’s work in this poor inner city neighborhood flourished. Every time we needed supplies or equipment for a special project, it would arrive and it was often entirely unsolicited. As long as we trusted in God’s providence, we never lacked the resources we needed. Children’s furniture and toys were donated the week we considered opening a children’s playroom and reading room. With the expansion of the “Women’s Empowerment Group”, once again, all that we needed was supplied without cost.
This is just one scenario that demonstrates how God can bring into being more than we can ask for or imagine. As a result of one “Yes” to God’s will, jobless people became employed, others continued their education, and women were empowered. All received hope!
Pray, pray, pray in any way you are led, but be careful.
The next time your phone rings a special challenge may await you!