Along with our friends, Tony and Janelle, Carol and I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, in late 1997 to join The Watch of the Lord prayer ministry and to attend All Nations Church. Mahesh and Bonnie Chavda headed both ministries.
Each of us felt the Lord directed us to move there. Our billfolds lacked money and credit cards, but faith filled our hearts, believing God would somehow supply our needs.
We pooled out money together and rented a room with two double beds at the Charlotte Residence Inn. The room contained less than two hundred square-feet of floor space with a kitchenette, two beds, four chairs, table, and a bathroom.
A mortgage financing company hired the four of us as telephone sales reps on our second day in Charlotte. The company paid its employees on a biweekly basis, which meant our first paychecks arrived two weeks later. This posed a problem because we only had enough money for one week of rent at the motel.
Each morning the four of us gathered together and prayed for our finances, as in, “Oh Lord, help! HELP!”
We introduced ourselves to the church and ministry as soon as it was possible. The members said we were the answers to many prophecies spoken to the group about people moving from different parts of America to be a part of the ministry. Their words encouraged us, but our money still dwindled daily because of food and gas.
A couple from All Nations Church invited us to their home for a small group meeting and Christmas party on the last night of our motel rental. The four of us agreed not to mention our dire financial needs to the group, but instead, we were determined to trust the Father, according to Matthew 6:6 −
But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
The married couple lived in a beautiful new two-story home located in a picturesque area with tall pine trees. It had a large living room, three bedrooms, fireplace, two bathrooms, and large kitchen. A perfect place for four needy, soon to be homeless, believers like us.
The meeting began with Christmas songs and prayers, with the group then waiting on the Lord to hear His voice. The group leader broke the silence by turning to Tony and Janelle.
“Do you guys need something?” he asked, looking at them.
Tony and Janelle shook their heads.
“Not really. The Lord is taking care of us,” said Tony.
The group returned to waiting on the Lord, but the leader was not satisfied and again turned to Tony and Janelle.
“I just don’t feel good about your answers. What do you need?”
Tony and Janelle answered again in the same manner.
“The Lord is taking care of our needs. Thanks for asking.”
The leader would not quit. He continued to ask them what they needed.
“Okay, here’s the story,” Janelle finally said, “we’re out of money for rent and groceries starting tomorrow morning. We don’t know where we shall go or how we’ll survive until we get paid next week.”
How do you think these joyous, Christmas celebrating Christians replied to her statement? And remember: it was December and cold outside.
The group’s leader digested Janelle’s statement for a moment. He motioned with his hands.
“Let’s gather around these two couples and pray for them.”
Tony, Janelle, Carol, and I stood in the middle of the living room while ten Christians placed their hands on our shoulders and prayed. They cried out to the Lord with passion for our circumstances.
I cheated a little by keeping my eyes open and watching the group. Oh Lord, I thought, this looks like the sum total of their aid for our needs. If so, I feel like puking all over their carpet for their level of Christianity.
The rhythm of their prayers reached a crescendo and backed off, waiting for someone to speak.
“I see the Lord raining drops of gold on the four of you,” prophesied a woman. “And all you have to do is reach up by faith and grab what you need. Just reach up right now.”
The prayers ended and we sat down again.
What a convenient prophecy, I thought. They actually believe they don’t have to help us in our time of need because of the woman’s prophetic words. Shouldn’t someone ask how much gold we were able to cram into our pockets during the prayers? Why did the Holy Spirit unmask our financial needs? To reveal our lack of faith or to reveal the group’s hypocrisy?
Various types of Christmas cookies, fudge candy, sandwiches, chips, and potato salad kept the four of us busy after the prayers. We stuffed ourselves and then graciously said our goodbyes and left.
The four of us did our best to pray blessings on the group and forgive them for their lack of hospitality on our drive back to the motel.
We checked out of the motel the next morning, packed our cars, and went to work. After our phone sales shift, we drove to a large shopping mall and stayed there until it closed at 9 p.m. We then drove both cars behind a large motel and slept in our cars.
How we handled the cold December temperatures was out of necessity rather than comfort. We only started our engines when the cold became unbearable. As soon as they warmed up, we turned the engines off to conserve fuel.
This routine continued for days.
I now wonder about the what if’s, such as, what if we had been four fluffy Golden Retriever puppies abandoned by a cruel master on the couple’s front steps. Would the small group have ignored our pleading eyes and whimpering yelps, allowing us to freeze to death outside in the cold weather? I don’t think so because that’s too inhumane, right?
But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth (1 John 3:17-18).
If we want to build our prayer lives, we have to prepare ourselves for the possibility that we might end up being the answer to someone else’s prayers. If we don’t want to do that, why even pray, right?
(Continued in Part 5)