About a year ago, I gathered in an office one weeknight to pray with two other women – friends from my community at The Vine. Our purpose was simple but deliberate. We would pray and ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind the characteristics of someone He wanted to encourage and we would go find that person. The following images and pictures came to our minds through that prayer: woman, the name Ashley, blonde hair, dress, the colors black, white & blue, there was an issue with work, and the local grocery store. As we left the office and set out to find this person, we were excited but very nervous. It was something quite new for us to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in such a bold and direct manner.
“Hi, I’m Stephanie and I was wondering if you would mind telling me your name”, my friend said. I watched the woman pause from her grocery shopping and respond with “Ashley.” My friend’s eyes filled with tears. She had been the one to have the name Ashley cross her mind in our prayer. At that moment, we knew by experience what we had believed by faith. Our Father speaks and we can listen.
As my friend looked at me, speechless and signaling for help, I heard myself saying, “We prayed that God would send us to encourage someone tonight and we believe that person is you.” I told her about the words and pictures. “Is there something going on at work that we can pray with you about?” She barely got her answer out as she began to cry. Ashley is a woman who worked at a non-profit involved in rescuing Christians from ISIS. She and a few other coworkers had just been a part of an effort to uncover some corruption and she was very burdened and worried about the situation.
“He sees you. He sees this situation. You are not alone.” As I spoke those words of grace and truth to her it felt like God was also speaking them back to me in a way that only the King of the Universe can. Standing by the endcap, in the aisle at Tom Thumb, grocery cart and all, we then prayed with Ashley.
What has followed that night in the grocery store are text messages and lunches with a woman we would otherwise not have known. We continued to pray with her as she stayed in her role and then left her job. We have asked our network of friends for job leads for her. We have celebrated with her as she has gotten engaged. We have grieved with her at the loss of her grandmother. Though all of this God is teaching me about His Kingdom. I believe God used me and two other women to find His treasure, a pearl of great price, a woman named Ashley. Who will He send you to find with His good news?