Expect the Unexpected
Sometimes in life, things don’t go as we had planned…or as we expected they would. Often our vision of what God’s plan should look like pales in comparison to what His vision is for our lives, for His church and for His Kingdom. Over the last 17 years, Memorial Road Church of Christ has witnessed countless unexpected blessings out of our Missions Sunday projects – disaster relief trips that resulted in long-term mission work in Cuba to grassroots church plants growing to serve refugees in Vienna.
If we are open to seeing the Spirit work in our lives and throughout the church, these same unanticipated opportunities can be seen everywhere. This year for Missions Sunday, we’ll reveal the beautiful examples of unexpected, life-changing work happening in Oklahoma, our nation and the world because of the faithfulness of this church to support missions and because of the Lord’s never-ending commitment to seeing his work flourish, even when we least expect it.
By The Numbers
My favorite statement from Austin goes like this:
“Bev – I thought when you were talking to me about the gift of a second chance and you gave me Jesus Calling to encourage me, I thought you are a nice lady so I’ll read it.” He grabbed my arm and said, “now I can’t live without Jesus.”
– Beverly North
“I had no health insurance, and no way I could figure out how to afford the medicine to keep me alive, to be there for my 3 children and 3 grandchildren. I had started having mental and emotional problems, but now I can cast them away. I look forward to the future, I have gotten my mind together enough to start my own business. And I am so thankful for you saving my sanity and my life. I feel like a walking miracle. I have an opportunity to be a positive influence in my family’s life. Thank you, thank you!“
“I battled drug abuse/alcohol abuse and have been in violent relationships and was incarcerated more than once. That is my past; now I have been clean for 4 years. I reunited with my family, have a job and I know I am blessed. Yet my Hep C was still looming over me, I knew it was damaging my body and threatening my life. Then I was referred to the Hep C clinic. To know I could get treatment, be cured and continue to make a new life for myself was one of the greatest joys I could imagine. Now I am curing, it is like my past is wiped away. I am holding down a good job, being a productive citizen. It has truly been a new beginning for me. “
Rural Oklahoma Ministries
I first met Jerry at a bible study I was leading in Cordell, OK a little over two years ago and I remember Jerry coming up to me after one of the studies and saying, “I think I know why I became a doctor.”
“Why is that?” I asked.
“Because I like to be in control,” he said. He went on to say, “I think God is telling me I need to let Him have control.”
Within days Jerry began to seek God’s will in earnest as he agreed to study the bible with me one-on-one. Meeting in Jerry’s home we were soon joined by his wife Stacey. But just when their lives were making a dramatic turn towards God, a very unexpected tragedy struck resulting in Jerry being sentenced to 4 years in prison 18 months later. Neither Jerry nor Stacey could have foreseen the tragic and unexpected turn of events that would result in Jerry’s incarceration, but God could and He worked in advance to prepare them for it. In July of 2017, Jerry and Stacey were baptized into Christ. A year later Jerry was sentenced to prison.
What would have become of Stacey and Jerry had God not showed up so unexpectedly in their lives at the time that He did? Only God knows. A better question is what became of them because He did?
Regarding Jerry, he is now serving his time at North Eastern Oklahoma Correctional facility in Vinita, OK. He receives letters from brothers at the Cordell church and I have just been cleared to make pastoral visits which will begin this month. Jerry has begun tutoring other inmates, and as an example of the heart of Jesus he is developing.
Stacey has been surrounded with love by her new sisters in Christ from the Cordell church. Not one to easily accept help from others, Stacey has grown to appreciate and rely on the emotional and spiritual support of these women. As a witness of Stacey’s growth in Christ, Melanie Hubbard described Stacey as, “fearless despite her struggle with loneliness, anger and worry. She has made every effort to serve others in every way possible. . . She is a devoted and willing Christ follower.”
– Jim Weaver
South Walker Church of Christ Hispanic Work
India - Mani Pagidipalli Work
“There is hope for every single soul! I know of thousands who are Christian now, who could not wait to wash away their sins when they heard the Gospel. I also run into people who blatantly oppose Gospel, persecuting and killing Christians for their Faith!
I know of a man (seen with me in the photo) who tried to kill (almost did) his wife because she is a Christian and she would not quit worshipping with other Christians in a village. But he later became our brother in Christ. Just when everybody thought he will never change and that there is no hope for a man like him, the Devil was defeated and Gospel won his soul! And that is just one of the many I know of in India.
Lives and eternities change and sharing a tiny part in that glorious thought with each one of you is all worth living this life the way I have been for Jesus. Every soul that I see out there without Christ keeps me going for I fully know that they too have hope and what God is offering them in Jesus!”
– Mani Pagidipalli
New Zealand - Justin & Jennifer Cherry
“When we started the Back to School Project it was our intentions to just help a few kids receive a backpack and supplies for the beginning of school year. But God had much bigger plans. Our first year we didn’t know how we would be able to provide for 10 children, much less the 30 we were wanting to help. That is when the unexpected happened.
A NZ donor gave $5,000 for the project and then commercial businesses and community individuals came on board to help make this project happen. But from there God kept blowing our expectations away. This last year were able to help 60 children due to people and businesses coming alongside.
We have been able to meet the families we are helping and get to know their needs a little more. We have had opportunities to share why we are doing this project and how Jesus is on a mission to redeem communities and we can be a part of that. This next year we are looking to take on two schools.
Future plans are to get more involved with the families to help create healthier systems through budget management courses and life skills equipping. We are dreaming big in this project, looking at all the possibilities of how we could impact community for Jesus. Because our God has taught us to expect the unexpected.”
– Justin Cherry