One of our kids favorite shows is called “Special Agent Oso.” It is a Disney cartoon where a stuffed bear is a special agent that helps kids solve problems. In every episode, things never go according to plan, but they always end up working out somehow in the end. When one of these unexpected changes to the plan occur, Oso always says, “It’s all part of the plan.”
Well, many times life is the same way. Things don’t always go according to the plan, but when you live a life that pleases Christ and try to follow His plan, then things always seem to work out somehow. (Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.)
It is just really cool when you see God using you as part of His plan. I want to tell you a story that will illustrate
this point. You may have to read this a couple of times to follow it because this story takes a lot of unexpected twists and turns, kind of like an episode of Special Agent Oso, but remember, “It’s all part of the plan!”
The story starts many years ago with our friends, John and Lynn Cunningham.
They are fellow missionaries here in the Dominican Republic and Lynn is the principal of the Palms Christian School where I taught last year. John has a step sister that he had not heard from in almost 30 years. (Remember that, put a bookmark there, we will come back to that in a minute)
Last year, Lynn had talked to me about trying to help her find some new teachers for the school, so I had one person in particular that really stood out in my mind and God impressed on my heart to reach out to her and speak with her about coming to teach. In February of this year, Melissa Szydlowski came to visit the school and began praying about God’s will for her life. It became very evident to her that God wanted her here and even before there was an offer to be a full time teacher, she was already making plans to come and be used in any way she could. It all worked out and Lynn was able to offer her a full time position at the school and Melissa will be joining the Palms staff in August.
(Hopefully I am not losing you, pay attention, this is going to get good!!)
Let’s flash back now about 10 years ago to the time when Julia and I moved from Michigan to Middle Tennessee. We looked everywhere for a church, we looked in small towns around us, we looked in large cities like Nashville and Murfreesboro, we were even willing to drive up to an hour to find the right church, but we just didn’t feel like God was leading us to any of the churches we visited until we stumbled onto Bible Baptist Church in Hendersonville. We fell in love with the church and staff. We knew without a shadow of a doubt that this was where God wanted us. (Little did we know that it was so he could prepare us and call us to the mission field.)
About 1 year into our time at BBC, the youth pastor job became available and I was wanting to get back into ministry. I had my degree in youth ministry, so I put in for the position. My pastor told me that it was basically between me and another guy just graduating from college. He had recently married one of the staff members daughters and had interned at BBC the previous year. After a couple of weeks, Pastor Crockett called me into his office and said that he was going to hire “Jonathan Watson” and that he didn’t want there to be any hard feelings, but he just felt like this was God’s plan for our church at that point. I agreed and looked forward to helping Jonathan in the youth group. Julia and I helped out with the youth for the next couple of years and grew to love Jonathan and Michelle and saw their passion for the kids and for God’s plan in their lives.
The next year, as our annual BBC missions conference rolled around, Jonathan suggested to our pastor to invite one of his college friends who was headed to the Dominican Republic. Pastor Crockett agreed that they would be a fine addition to our conference and invited Chad and Wendy Justice to come and share what the Lord was doing the DR. That was the first time we had met the Justices’, but God used them over the next several years to help us determine God’s will for our lives when we were looking at where to go. They have become great friends of ours since we have been here, and they have been a great source of encouragement and we cherish their friendship.
About two years ago, God called Jonathan Watson to leave Bible Baptist in Hendersonville, TN and pastor his home church in Appomattox, VA. When we were on deputation, Jonathan invited us to be part of their church’s annual missions conference. That was one of the most memorable weeks we had while on deputation, that church just poured out love, blessings, and prayers on us and we really felt a bond with the church. The church voted to take us on for support and quickly started talking to us about scheduling a missions trip to visit.
(Well, here’s where the story comes together and part of God’s plan is revealed.)
Since the church in Appomattox was coming to visit, and our friend, Melissa needed to get some of her stuff here, I put her in contact with Jonathan and he agreed to help her out. Last night she drove from the Washington DC area where she lives to Appomattox to deliver her luggage so that the group could bring it. You will never guess who attends church there. (Okay, if you have been paying attention, you probably did guess it) John’s step sister, you know, the one who they had not heard from in about 30 years! This morning, they have finally reconnected, as the step sister sent Lynn a Facebook message telling her about the missionary teacher who was there last night and asking if she was going to be working with them. Also, her grandson went with Pastor Watson to teen camp last week and the Lord did a great work in his heart.
Pray for John and Lynn as they attempt to reconnect with his sister. Pray for Bro. Jonathan as he pastors this dear sister and her grandson. Pray for Melissa as she moves here next week. Pray for the Appomattox missions team as they travel in two weeks. Ain’t God good?
All that to say this. You never know what God’s plan is. Sometimes God’s plan is grand and complicated. Sometimes it doesn’t go like we want it to. Sometimes it takes 30 years. Sometimes we don’t get the job we want. Sometimes we just need to listen to what that Still, Small Voice is saying to us. Sometimes we just need to go! Sometimes we just need to stay. Sometimes we just need to forgive.
I just want to encourage you . . . Be part of God’s plan, let God lead and direct your steps on a daily basis, so that one day you can say, like Oso . . . “It’s all part of the plan!”