As part of our Advent series, Whom Angels Greet, we are sharing personal stories from Summit attendees who have seen God intercede. Just as the four people who were visited by angels before Christ’s birth, these stories show a distinct and pronounced interruption from the Lord into everyday life.
My husband Pat and I were missionaries living in Budapest, Hungary. However, one September we were on a two-week visit to our hometown, Colorado Springs. During a routine physical it was discovered that Pat had cancer. So with the decree, “you have acute leukemia,” our cheerful little two-week visit quickly morphed into an eerie, nebulous odyssey.
No home, no car, and no extra funds for this journey, but we had Jesus and his body, surrounding us and supporting us. Good friends shared their home with us while others lent us their car. Even friends who worked in the hospital looked in on us, advised us, comforted us.
We were about two months into chemo when the friends whose car we were using asked if we knew anyone else who might have a car to lend us so they could have theirs back. We asked our wonderful supporting church of 7,000 members. “No, unfortunately we don’t have any cars to loan you.”
When dealing with leukemia, cars seem like a very small side issue, but we did want to be considerate of our friends and give them their car back, so it was weighing on my mind. Around the same time, Pat’s blood pressure had started plummeting when he stood up, making him pass out and fall over.
After one particularly gloomy, cold, and long December day at the cancer clinic, the chemo’s side effects were increasingly alarming. Side note: our temporary home was in the basement of our friends’ house. Hoisting Pat up and down those stairs was becoming quite the harrowing adventure (and a story for another time)! Picturing me getting my ever-weakening husband back down those stairs seemed like a bad plan. The doctor agreed – back to the hospital for Pat.
In fifteen minutes I pulled up to the hospital. It was dark. It was evening. It was lonely. No valets were on duty. I parked by the curb and went to get a wheelchair. When I got back to Pat and docked the wheelchair by the car, I opened the door and tried to help him out. It quickly became clear to me that he had grown significantly weaker and could not get out of the car without a bigger, stronger-than-me body to lean on. I stood there wondering what to do. We both said, “Lord, we need Larry” (a friend in Budapest who was an ex-football player).
In my peripheral vision, I saw a man with the same build as Larry walking out of the hospital with his wife. I said, “we need someone like him.” But I couldn’t muster the strength to ask a strange man in the dark for help.
I looked back at Pat and then all of a sudden I heard, “do you need help?” The man was suddenly standing at my side! I said, “yes! I was just telling my husband we needed someone your size to help move him into the wheelchair” and I gave him a quick rundown of our situation. His wife quickly piped up, “he can’t lift anything for two weeks – he has just had a liver biopsy himself. But I will go into the hospital and find someone to help.”
While she was gone, he asked us, “do you need anything? Do you need a place to stay? Do you need money? What do you need?” I wondered why this person would be questioning us like it was his job to find a way to help. He said he was a pastor in a little town south of Colorado Springs.
I said, “well…we do need a car.” And I explained. He said, “here’s my card. Call me.” So, after I delivered Pat into the care of the hospital staff, I called the pastor. I explained that we needed a vehicle for “a while.” He said, “let me take this to my congregation.” The next day he called to say his church wanted to rent us a car for a month! We arranged that I would meet the church secretary at the car rental place the next day. I was eager to know more about these mysterious people. I asked, “how large is your congregation?” The answer? “Twelve.”
I was speechless, stunned, and magnificently ministered to by a tiny group of believers who did not know us from Adam, but who willingly became the hands, feet and car of Jesus. It was one more instance of God reassuring us of his intimate, tender care and provision in the little things while we marched through this dark valley!