Thursday, December 20, 2012

Refresh: The best support appointment ever

"Good news refreshes the bones." - Proverbs 15:30b

This is part of an ongoing series called Refresh, named for the verse above. "Gospel" means "good news", and so it seems appropriate to highlight tales of God providing, especially in amazing, fun and unexpected ways. Note that unlike most Refresh posts, this one contains real names. It's simply too good a story to use anything else. May this tale help refresh your bones!

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This is the story of how God provided an unexpected blessing for my wife during a support appointment. (I can tell the story because I had something to do with its coming to pass.)

The story begins at the point during our courtship when I started planning how I was going to propose. I wanted to give her an experience she would recall fondly, and a story she would enjoy telling. I knew that if I could surprise her (in a pleasant way), I'd be halfway there. However, I faced the dilemma many guys face: how do you surprise her when she's expecting that you're going to ask?

I decided that simply asking in an unexpected moment wouldn't work. Instead, I concluded my best strategy would be to show up somewhere she didn't expect me to be. But how to do that?

I decided to stage a fake support appointment.

I knew Carin was making plans for a support trip to Harrisburg, so I called up a friend of mine who had connections there. When I asked him if he knew anyone who would make a good accomplice for my plan, he immediately mentioned his friend Gabe. (Notice how I was making use of my own networking skills?) I called Gabe, who turned out to be an enthusiastic helper. He would play the role of prospective donor for the staged appointment.

I still needed a way to connect Carin with Gabe, though. I enlisted the help of Carin's mom, who also lived in Harrisburg at the time. She told Carin that she had a referral for her, a guy named Gabe who had visited her church and expressed interest in hearing more about her ministry.

(Incidentally, I knew all along that this was the weakest point in the plan. Given the interconnectedness of Christian circles, I knew there was a chance that Carin would know who Gabe was—and it turned out she did. She told me later that it did seem weird that Gabe, who was well-connected at his own church in Harrisburg, would visit her mom's church.)

And here you see that my entire plan rested on Carin's fundraising diligence! If Carin didn't follow up on the referral, my plan would fail. Thankfully, though, she remembered what her fundraising mentor had told her: always follow up because you never know how God might use it!

Gabe and I together had devised what he would say when Carin called: "I'm planning to go out to dinner with my brother and sister-in-law that Saturday. But I'm sure they'd like to hear about your ministry too. Why don't you come with us? We'll treat. Great! Oh, and it's kind of a nice restaurant, so dress up. Meet us at my house and we'll all go over together."

Gabe was indeed at his house at the appointed time, but he answered the door wearing shorts and a T-shirt. His brother and sister-in-law were not there, but I was... wearing a suit and holding a dozen roses. Carin's plans for her evening - and indeed for her future - had changed.

Submitted by Brian Roberg