All Long Form Stories

Assigned Seats


When we think of going on a mission trip, we usually focus on the people and communities we will encounter at our destination. However, God can use us to impact people and change the world in any circumstance, as long as we are open to those opportunities. All it takes is stepping out in faith and engaging with those around us, even to a small degree, to light a spark of change. Margaret Thomas was given just such an opportunity while on the first leg of the Uganda medical mission trip, when she heeded the Spirit’s call to invest in her plane neighbor and share the Gospel with a stranger for the first time. She faced many trials leading up to this trip that refined her and humbled her, creating a joyful dependence on Christ and His plan that set her up to share with more openness and easy faith than ever before.

This was Margaret’s fourth trip with Long Hollow Missions, and her second as a nurse on the Uganda medical mission team. Even as a child, she knew she wanted to help people for a living, so becoming a mother-baby nurse and eventually embarking on medical missions seemed natural for her. However, she admits that during her first Uganda trip in 2014, her heart was more focused on herself and the good acts she was performing than it was on serving God and His Kingdom.

This trip was different. The four years between comprised a series of humbling trials and rejections on a level Margaret had never yet experienced. It began with attending Celebrate Recovery (CR), a ministry that has been a blessing and “road map” for Margaret as she negotiated her way out of food and alcohol addiction. Her biggest trial came in 2017 when, one week after celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary, her husband revealed that he wanted a divorce. Loss continued to weigh on Margaret in the following months as she and her son moved out of their house, and her mother, who had lived with her for years, passed away. In reflecting on this time of trials, Margaret acknowledges that it was a time of refining in which she became more humble, found more self-control, and relied on Jesus more than ever. This deepening of her faith primed her to enter this trip with a heart for God’s purposes. “Use me, Lord,” was the cry of her heart.

Prior to the trip, Margaret received an email from the trip leader asking if she wanted to choose her seat assignment for her flight to New York, her first stop on the way to Uganda. Usually she would have changed to an exit row seat but this time she hesitated; “I just felt something small inside me say, ‘Just trust God for your seat assignment… surrender it all, just go!'” This may seem insignificant, but Margaret’s faith in something small was honored with greater blessings.

Seatbelt fastened and tray table in the full upright position, Margaret began to chat with her seat neighbor, a young German woman named Isabella, as the plane ascended. Isabella was on her way home to Amsterdam from a business trip. And Margaret? Her reason for travelling that day opened the door for her to share about her faith, her experiences of the last few years, and the love of Christ.

“It being my first time to share, especially with a complete stranger… what felt most comfortable to share was what Christ had done in my life. It felt so natural to share with [Isabella],” she recalls. “I think she could see my joy. The conversation didn’t feel pressured and I don’t think it did for her either. I felt an openness, the Spirit with me. It was based in love and not fear. It was like, ‘I just want to tell you what the Lord has done for me’. If what I went through brings one person to Christ it was worth it.”

Isabella was comfortable sharing her own relativistic views and her experience with Christianity, which she viewed as rigidly legalistic and tainted with works-based philosophy. “Receiving salvation is not based on what we do,” Margaret shared with her. “It is through our belief in Jesus Christ and what he did for us on the cross. I can do all kinds of good things, but I can never earn my way to Heaven. There is no bias with that, anyone can accept Christ.”


“I wish I could say that she accepted Christ right then,” Margaret recounted with a sigh. Nevertheless, by sharing her testimony and the grace of Christ, a seed was sown; it is up to God to “bring the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:7). Her conversation was overheard by the team leader who asked Margaret to share with the rest of their team at their first morning devotional. Throughout the entire trip, during wellness visits under the clinic tents and communal church with the local ministry team, Margaret remembered Isabella.

Back at home, Margaret returned to work as a mother-baby nurse. As part of her job, she meets with parents in labor and delivery to complete paperwork on behalf of their coming baby. The first couple she attended told her they were expecting a girl. And her name? Isabella.

This struck Margaret immediately as a little gift from God. “You know how it says Mary ‘pondered these things?’ She kept them to herself but pondered them? It was like that—a catch-my-breath moment.” Margaret’s eyes glistened at the memory. “It was a reminder of new life, not only physically but spiritually. It definitely reminded me not to forget Isabella and not to forget to pray for her. This morning I thought, ‘Lord, how good would it be if when I get to Heaven I see Isabella?’ I’ll never forget her face…. How cool would that be?”

This encounter has inspired Margaret to boldly take advantage of opportunities whenever they come her way. When coworkers tell her of their troubles, she pulls them aside and prays with them on the spot. “I’m not going to live in fear anymore. I may not always have the most eloquent words…but I’ve got minutes. That’s all it takes.


January 22, 2019

A New Thing: A Story of Baptism


God’s prompting is one of the greatest mysteries to embrace that leads to life change. Here is a story from our week of spontaneous baptisms told by Wendy Taylor:

One afternoon I was kneeling at my bedside praying. I wanted to be in the center of where God was at work. While I was praying, there was a knock at the door.  

My son Zac, said, ”Mom, there is a lady at the door.”  In my head I thought, “Who could it be and how am I going to explain why my eyes are red and puffy?”.   She said, “My name is Sheree.”  

“I have been watching your family and noticed how you all enjoyed each other.” Sheree explained that the Holy Spirit had directed her to come knock on my door. Sheree proceeded to tell me she just wanted to be in community– in a small group.  Little did she know that God had already been at work in my heart about starting a small group in our apartment.

I shared with Sheree that I had been praying to be a part of what God was doing and that Sheree was the answer to that prayer. Only God can bring someone to your door, whom you have never met before, that asks to be in small group with you.

We began Discovery Bible Study on Thursday nights at 6:00.  We meet every week.  Sheree even began to use the comprehension part of DBS in her English classes at school. The students ate it up. She then started a DBS group at her school. She began to tell everyone about small group. Then, Sheree decided to start attending Long Hollow.  When Pastor Robby began preaching on baptism, the Holy Spirit prompted her, and when Pastor Robby asked if anyone wanted to come forward, Sheree knew it was God calling her to be baptized.  

God is doing a new thing in Sheree’s life.  She is standing in the legitimacy, authority, and position of a covenant daughter of Christ.  She is a princess of The King, and she has a love relationship with Jesus that infiltrates every aspect of her life.

November 23, 2015

Serving is the Real Gift

The -Gift-2015-WebFtr

At Long Hollow, we want our single moms to know how much they’re admired and appreciated. It’s a pleasure to offer The Gift again this year to help with that!

Saturday, December 5 Nashville-area single moms are invited to join us for breakfast and lunch, unique sessions created especially for single moms, quality programming for your children (6 weeks old-5th grade), giveaways, and more. Jackie McDonald has served at the Gift in years past, and cannot wait to be a part of it again. She tells us more about serving at the Gift below:

The first time I was able to serve at The Gift was two years ago. I had heard what a great event it was and what a blessing it is to so many single moms, but I had no idea the impact it would make on my life. It TOTALLY WRECKED me and broke my heart as I heard so many stories from these ladies. I have met ladies from all walks of life, all ages, and in all different situations. Some have shared how this event helped them get gifts for their children, connect with other single moms, gave them a day out with childcare, and one even continued to come to church and was baptized!

It opened my eyes to what God is calling us all to do. 

You see, for me, it didn’t just end with serving at The Gift. I felt compelled to do more.  On the way home, I kept thinking of the verse where Jesus said,”From everyone who has been given much much will be demanded; and the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48) The more resources, talents, and understanding we have, the more we are responsible to use them effectively. This does not necessarily mean financially, although it could.

As I prayed, I felt so overwhelmed and said, “But Lord we can’t help everybody.” I felt him say,” NO, but we can help just ONE.” And I was reminded of the story of the ONE sheep, the ONE coin, and the ONE son. This has been my prayer each year as I meet ladies at The Gift. Lord, just send ONE who needs to see YOU in some way. 

The Gift is one of the best ministries we have here at Long Hollow, and I can testify just from the two years I have been involved that I have seen the impact it has made on so many single moms lives. But it also has had a tremendous impact on my life. 

Being able to serve these ladies who are being both mom and dad is not a duty, but an honor I GET to do. I look forward to each year. 

You can sign-up to serve at The Gift this year at

November 10, 2015

Grace Oasis: A Home of Freedom

IMG_0148 (1)

Long Hollow’s anti-trafficking partner, Rescue 1 Global received the keys to a property that will serve as a safe home for minors who have been trapped in the sex industry. It is the first of its kind in the state of Tennessee! It is called “Grace Oasis.” This safe home will provide a place of hope and freedom. Freedom from bondage. Freedom from abuse. Freedom from a life in fear. It will serve as a place of refuge, restoration and redemption.  The Grace Oasis Aftercare Program will incorporate psychological, educational, social, physical, and spiritual programs into every day life at the home, all with the understanding that true freedom is only found through the love of Christ.

Grace Oasis is set to open in January, yet it’s still in need of many things before it can begin ministering to those in need. There are several ways you can get involved in partnering with Grace Oasis! If you would like to learn about the needs of the home and how you can help, please check out this link!

For more information or questions email:


November 3, 2015

The Nations are Here


This summer an incredible group of interns flooded our campuses with passion and drive to reach people to Jesus. Here’s a story from one of our Missions’ interns:

The smell of spices and cigar smoke filled T’s apartment. T proudly showed me her new furniture given to her by donors. We laughed and carried on conversation about her new life in America and her previous life back home in Iraq. I remember closing my eyes for a second and almost believing that I was in a home deep in the heart of the Middle East. How was I in my hometown of Nashville? T is a believer. She moved to America because of religious persecution in Iraq. She received an education and had a great job back home, but moving to America is like starting all over again.

I had the opportunity to meet with T a couple of times this summer to help her with her English. You know, Matthew 19:24 says to preach the Gospel to every tribe, tongue, and nation. There are 7,000 different tongues on this earth and so many people who have never heard the name of Jesus. It can be easy to stay still and comfortable, frozen because we don’t know how to even begin such a task. Often, when I think about fulfilling this commandment I picture a foreign mission field with zero Gospel witness anywhere. I’m learning, however, that the picture that I usually have is not the only mission field there is. Did you know that there are over 60,000 refugees living in Tennessee? The majority have moved here from countries where preaching in the name of Jesus is illegal, and as a result so many know nothing about Jesus that is actually true.

T’s friend, SJ, came over to join us for dinner. SJ has been living in Nashville for a few years now. He grew up in a Muslim family but no longer identifies himself with Islam. SJ has been searching for the truth ever since he began to have troubling dreams. These dreams have haunted him and despite all the searching he’s done, he has yet to find anyone who wanted to talk to him about these dreams. As T made dinner, SJ began sharing his dreams with me. They all had uncanny similarities to bible stories. One of them stood out to me the most.

“In my dream Jesus was carrying heavy wood on his back (the cross). There were crowds of people on both sides of Him, but no one was helping Him. I looked at Jesus and I couldn’t understand why no one was helping him. I ran to Him to carry the cross for Him so He could just walk beside me, but when I put it on my shoulders the weight was too much. I fell to the ground because the cross was too heavy for me.”

MJ has shared his dreams with priests and friends before, but until that evening no one had ever been able to tell him the meaning of his dream. His dream was so clear to me and that night God gave me the words to tell Him the meaning. The beautiful thing is that you don’t have to go to seminary or be any sort of expert on the bible to share the Gospel with someone. All that is needed is to look at them and tell them that they are not able to carry the weight of their sin any longer and that they will always fall down while trying. Jesus is the only one who can carry the weight of the cross for us. There are so many more people searching just like SJ. Jesus is going before us and preparing the hearts of people – right here in Nashville.


Once I heard these wise words, “You never know who is standing on the other side of your obedience.” I think this is so true in refugee ministry because you truly have no idea how far the Gospel will spread because of your obedience. You may be reaching one family or a whole village deep in the middle east – both equally important because either way souls are being written in the book of LIFE. I pray that SJ will continue to be troubled enough by his dreams to seek the truth even more. I pray that God will place people in his path who will share the Gospel with him. I pray that soon seeds will come to fruition and He will let Jesus carry his cross for him. Will you pray? And will you do more than pray? Go into the harvest. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” – Jesus (Matthew 9:37-38)

We partner with a ministry called World Relief in Nashville. They resettle hundreds of refugees in Nashville every year.  If people want to get involved or have questions they can email

September 10, 2015

Divine Appointment: One Piece of a Bigger Puzzle


God uses people in unexpected and mind-blowing ways. People all over Long Hollow are experiencing stories like this, where God puts together all the pieces to prepare the way for something bigger than ourselves.

“Some friends and I decided to try and get together for lunch.

We all have crazy lives and it’s difficult to get together. It had been about a year since we were all able to see each other.  

Everything worked out for us to get together one day. While getting ready, I felt like there was something different about this time. Experiencing God says to look for where God is at work and join him there…

I kept feeling like God was saying this was a divine appointment.

We met and while we were talking Africa came up. My friend said that God was giving her a vision for a new ministry in Africa. She said that she had not planned on talking about this just yet, but every time God brought this vision to her, Gene and I always came to her mind.

She said that there are many women and children dying daily in Africa because of the way the women give birth today due to lack of medical care. She said that ultrasound was the key.

So I took all this in and shared with Gene. He said, “You know I don’t want to go to Africa again right??” I didn’t want to go back either. 

I suggested he needed to call a guy that offered to buy our business 3 years ago that had the smartphone ultrasound devices. Gene said, “I am not calling him. I haven’t talked to him in three years, and he still owes me money. That would be awkward, and who knows what he did with them or if he still has them.”  That was  on a Sunday night.

On Monday morning, Gene text me and said, “You are not going to believe this, but the guy called me asking about respiratory therapist and was about to hang up when I asked him what he ever did with those devices.”

Well he said that they were up in his attic collecting dust. Gene told him that there was a possible new ministry about to begin in Africa that needed ultrasound. And he said absolutely! He had two grandchildren adopted from Africa and that he would be happy to help anyway he could. 

So he brought Gene the device, and Gene asked him for how much he would sell the machine. He said that he would donate all 10 if we needed them! That’s between $80,000-100,000!

We are expected God to do something huge next!”

-Gene and Stacey Spain

July 28, 2015

Older Stories »