In Fresno, California
June 10, 2018
I moved to Fresno, CA into the Lowell neighborhood over 17 years ago. This community consists of beautiful, old homes and mature trees as well as gangs, concentrated poverty, and other associated difficulties. At the time, one of my earliest prayers was to see the youth come to faith and walk with Jesus.
April and Gabby were the first answer to that prayer. After hearing the story of Jesus, they wanted to invite Christ into their lives, but they didn’t know how to pray. They asked for paper and a pencil to write out a simple and heartfelt prayer. This started their journey with Jesus.
April has two older sisters, and they never showed any interest in spiritual things. One time, one of the sisters was going through a particularly difficult event. I remember praying with her, but there was no desire on her part to make any changes.
These girls grew up and moved out of the neighborhood. I kept in contact with April but didn’t see much of her sisters. A couple of years ago, we held our Easter Sunday service in the park and April’s oldest sister came. Then she attended a one-day women’s retreat we had in the mountains and loved it. Not long after, I saw both the sisters at a birthday party and discovered they had started attending a local church. One even said she and her husband were given Bibles, but didn’t know where to begin or how to use it. I suggested getting together and learning about the Bible and how to read it. Both immediately said yes!
God did not forget the prayers that were prayed 17 years ago. Even after they moved and I stopped praying for them, God continued His good work in them.
This gives me hope for my friend Courtney, who I have been praying for years. Though she has rejected the idea of a loving God her whole life and pursues things that give short-term benefits, I continue to pray for God to transform her life.
"The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” -2 Peter 3:9, NLT
I rejoice over April’s sisters transformed lives, and I will continue to pray and trust that one-day Courtney will join us. After all, it is God’s heart to see every life and community transformed by His power.