Stories

Stories from "Sharing Your Faith"

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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.”

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“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.

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January 22, 2019

A New Thing: A Story of Baptism

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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

Liz’s Story: Steps of Obedience

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Our Sunday night outreach team at the Hillcrest Campus has been hitting the streets, bringing food and building relationships with their neighbors. Among these neighbors was a woman named Liz, who had just been in a car wreck that left her bedridden along with a husband who recently was diagnosed with cancer.  This family was in desperate need of hope. Knowing that Liz couldn’t physically make it to church, a group from Hillcrest decided to take church to Liz. Through prayer, worship, and an encouraging message, the Hillcrest team surrounded Liz’s family with the love of Christ.

Women then began meeting with her to do Discovery Bible Study. She began to dive into the Word of God like never before.  She started coming to church at our Hillcrest campus and recently got baptized surrounded by her newfound sisters in Christ.  In the midst of heartbreaking circumstances, Liz found hope and life in Jesus Christ and a community of believers who will walk alongside her on the road ahead. We celebrate with Liz as she stepped out in obedience to be baptized!

Praise the Lord for opening the hearts and homes of our Hillcrest neighbors! God is working in incredible ways in this community!

September 14, 2015

Unlikely: Equipped to Spread the Word

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Shy and intimidated. Unequipped, unqualified, and unlikely.

Christy felt just like most of us when it came to sharing God’s Word to those around her. She took a leap of faith, stepped out in obedience, and did something she never thought she would. Through the method of Discovery Bible Study, which takes the role of the teacher out and asks questions that make the participants discover what is says for themselves, she felt equipped, capable, and inspired to do what she felt she was called to do. She believed “the Spirit of God illuminating the Word of God is enough to produce the people of God.” She asked a few of her coworkers to do the study with her, and by the end of one study, they are planning to meet again as soon as possible in a bigger room. All of them were asking questions and completely bought into it what God was doing through their Bible study in their workplace.

Jennifer found herself in a similar position. She is a professor who teaches on Tuesdays at a local university. After going through our Engage class, she started to begin her class with an oral DBS. She asks questions like, “What does this passage say about God, Man, and Obedience?” and allows the class to call out answers as a whole. She’s taking her beliefs seriously, and having the courage to share the Good News when it might not be the norm.

Both women have extreme belief and courage, and are examples of how God equips the unlikely to spread His Word. 

July 16, 2015

Gallatin’s Lake Baptisms

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The Long Hollow Gallatin campus celebrated life-change once again at the annual Lake Baptism service in Old Hickory Lake on Highway 109 South.  Nine people, ranging from second grade to 43 years-old, were baptized with a huge crowd of supporters looking on. Three of those baptized were a mom, dad and daughter. An entire family stepped out in obedience to go public with their faith. In fact, adding the 9 people baptized at the lake to the 6 folks who were baptized on the Gallatin campus earlier in the morning, that day became LH Gallatin’s largest baptism day in the 10 year history. Praise the Lord for it all!! 

July 14, 2015

The Impact of One Week: Student Camp

Camp Share 2015 from Long Hollow Student Ministry on Vimeo.

Student Summer Camp 2015 was a year of change and the unknown. It was also one that will forever be remembered by the lives that were changed in unexpected ways. We prayed for the Lord to pour out His love and for His Kingdom to reign at Shorter University. As you see in this video, He exceed what we could have ever hoped or imagined.

July 7, 2015

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