Why I Believe Pt. 2 By Pastor Shari Stephens 0

[continued from Why I believe Pt. 1 By Pastor Shari Stephens]

I am going to attempt to share some of the memorable, undeniable, experiences with God I have had throughout my life.  This no way approaches the countless moments of His divine presence but is a meager attempt of those moments that, for me remind me of his goodness, omniscience, favor, mercy, omnipotence and foreknowledge.  Those elements will be the guidelines for what is included.  Things that only He could do.  Things that only He could know.  Thing that are not coincidence but in fact the movement of God in my life.  This are a summary of my experiences; these are my testimonies. Some have more detailed descriptions in the Hall of Faith.

14. Pastor Kevin began to have a desire for a sailboat out of the blue. He began to study them, look them up and find out local boats that were for sale. I though it made no sense but one day I was at Mackinaw Island and heard the voice of the Lord say, as I was looking at sailboats, and marinas, “This is the life style I want you to have.” I immediately knew that God wanted us to have a sailboat, so I found a little, desk top, silver, sailboat on the island with the scripture on it that said, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11. So I told Kevin, what God said. He began his search in earnest and found a 27 ft used sailboat, that was across the state for $10K which was the going rate. But after speaking to someone, he found one exactly the same, locally that had just been posted, with an inboard motor (making it more expensive) for just $3K. He called the owner who said no one wanted to see it because the price was so low. Kevin wanted to go see it, but I said there was no point in going to see it, because we didn’t have the money. That day we received a check for $3,036. So, we went to see it, not only was it in excellent condition but it came with a boat cradle, air conditioning, 27 ft, flush toilet, slept 5 and multiple VHS tapes on how to sail!!! We bought the sailboat!! (Divine Provision, Direction and Purpose)

15. We were filming in downtown Pontiac for a Pocket Parable project and we need a specific amount of insurance to do it. At the time we didn’t have it, but the Lord told us to proceed and the day of, when we needed the money, a cast member came to us, unbeknownst of our need, and said the Lord told her to give us an offering. It was the specific amount we needed for the insurance to film that day! (Divine Provision)

16. After launching Pocket Parables, we both lost our jobs within 6 months of each other. Because of this we were also in a state of bad credit. During this, we found out that the home we were renting had been foreclosed and auctioned off months prior, but we hadn’t been told! There were no housing options before us. Here we were, doing the clearly defined will of God for our lives and all hell seemed to have broken loose. It made me question if I could even hear from God. In a fit of depression and tears the Lord managed to speak to me one day and say, “You can stay here and keep crying and that will lead to depression or you can get up and walk with me.” So, I decided to walk. That whole week we walked and talked together. The next week he said to me, “now go a little further” so I walked to the next corner on my route. When I got there, I sat on the bench to stretch and looked to my left and there was a lovely, big house, with a “for rent” sign out front. I had never noticed this house before, even though I lived in the city for over 6 years. The house was beautiful and had everything we would need. It was next door to a lovely little church and I heard the voice of God say, “this home is owned by a church and they are going to love you and let you use the church for Pocket Parables.” We went to see it later that evening and as we walked through it we could feel the prayers of the saints in it. They had been fixing it up and were praying for the right people to get it. As we were in the house we felt God. We had such a beautiful conversation with the deacon that he also took us on a tour of the church. While in the church basement he said, “You know, I am sure you could also use the church for Pocket Parables.” With that statement, I began to cry because God had literally just said that to me earlier that day. Once we got outside, God said, “never doubt that you hear from me again.” We got the house 3 days later, without credit, nor references, no ID, nor proof for income, and even though we didn’t have the full deposit, God had someone sow a $1,000 seed to us that day so that we could go move in. We found out that God had them start remodeling the house in June when our home had been sold, even though we didn’t know it was lost until September. They were only going to fix one level, but God told them to fix the whole house. The day they put the “for rent” sign out was the day I was at the corner. They also gave us keys to the church to use anytime, not in use, for Pocket Parables!!

17. As we were doing the will of God, our car completely stopped on us and was too much to repair. That day, someone said God told them to give us enough money to go purchase a used car outright with no car note. And we did! (Divine Provision & Favor)

18. The church family we were renting from sold the church and property. We had started our Church, Sword of the Spirit. The new owners were not as charitable and did not want to allow us to use the building any longer, so we prayed. The next day, the Lord sent us to a church that was 5 times as large as the original church. The secretary asked us to come back the next day to ask the pastor about using the facility. The next day, the pastor and his wife had been praying for some godly fellowship and help in the church. When they finished their prayer and said “Amen,” the church doorbell rang. It was Pastor Kevin and me. We all hit it off right away, they allowed us to use the facility, and we still do, long after they no longer minister at that location. God answered their prayers and ours at the same time. (Divine provision and ordered steps)

19. We had dear friends from India ask us to host their father, whom we had never met, in our home for a few weeks. We felt compelled to allow this stranger in our home. We were simply asked could her father stay with us as he was getting over the loss of his wife. He also had a few preaching engagements in the US in our area. He came and ended up staying with us for 6 weeks. He was extremely humble and a profound Man of God who had performed many notable miracles in his home country including casting out demons, healing the sick and raising a dead baby to life. We later found out he was a Bishop with hundreds of churches under him. He taught us daily, as his own children, the word of God and it was one of the most profound experiences of our lives. Some of our people were healed and delivered. He could have been any, random, Indian man, in turn, it was a phenomenal spiritual experience that changed us forever. (Divine Purpose)

20. We realized the home God had blessed us to rent (#16 above) was now under different circumstances. The new owners didn’t seem to love us, nor did they let us use the church for Pocket Parables, so one day I mentioned that to the Lord. He immediately responded to me that “it was time to move!” He even told me to begin packing, which I did. I told Kevin and we both knew we weren’t in a position to buy a home but both of us felt in our spirit, a bit of hope in the fact that “we didn’t know what God was doing”. I told Kevin that what we needed was a home where the parents were deceased, and the children just wanted to get rid of it. We began to look and figured out what price range we would be in, if in fact we could get a mortgage. We found homes in that range but of course, as we searched, I looked $100K over the budget just to see what was out there.

On the 4th of July we decided to go look at all our available listings , we only took the ones in our price range, but we did take our absolute favorite one that was $350K, $100K over our possible budget. We narrowed our list down and before turning in for the day Kevin said he wanted to be kind to me and drive me by my absolute favorite, just to look at it. As we pulled up, there was a black Cadillac in the drive way. We assumed it was the realtor, but it was the owner. We asked about when there would be an open house and she told us she was the owner and that we could look around then. She told us she had just been in the back-yard praying because she wanted to move on with her life. She told her deceased parents to send the buyers in her prayer. When she said “Amen” she came around the house and we were there! We later found out that as we were touring the house, she called and told the realtor that “the buyers are here”. She told us all about the house and her family and we spent quite a while talking with her. When it was time to leave, we asked her if the price was solid and she said, “Just make an offer”. We, of course, hadn’t yet been approved for a mortgage and assumed we wouldn’t get one because we hadn’t yet repaired our credit enough. Two months prior I had tried to borrow $5K for a car and the banks turned me down, nothing much had changed. But we reached out and our mortgagor told us he would approve us for $250K. We couldn’t believe. We had decided to make whatever offer we could to the first “over and above” home because “we didn’t know what God was doing!” My father is a real estate broker and he told me that he couldn’t ethically make such a low-ball offer, but we begged him to send up a Hail Mary and see what happened. He agreed to just call and see, and he came back saying that, they really liked us, were very impressed and would entertain our offer. We sent over the offer letter and they accepted it, for $100K less than their asking price, in 2 hours.

Now was the hard part, we didn’t have a dime saved up for a deposit on this house! Within 1-month God blessed us with $27K for our deposit and a paid off a debt to the IRS. This included God compelling the owners to also include closing cost on their end, God using an unwilling person to loan us $6,900 and God directing our steps to where and how to get the remaining money. We moved in to the home of our dreams 3 months later! It is now almost double in value. (Divine Favor, Grace, Ordered Steps and Provision)

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