News from Santa Monica

Oct 26, 2018 | Melanie Shepard, Our Missionaries

(He made mankind) that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him. Yet He is actually not far from each of us…
Acts 17:27

Day at the beach

Tabling with Willy

Bible study with Chansi

Hello Friend,

I have a place to live close to campus! I made connections with local churches and a guest pastor introduced me to a kind godly woman who lives a few blocks from the campus. After her husband passed away, she began asking God for new opportunities to serve Him. When she heard about my need and my work she wondered if this was His answer. This is the second time here in California that God has prompted people to seek an opportunity to serve before they heard of me and knew of my need! In talking with young professionals and missionaries in the area, it is common for my age group to share bedrooms in small apartments, which intimidates me as I thrive in having a safe space where I can be alone. With my new place, I will be living in a freestanding home with a room and bathroom to myself. This find is unheard of in Santa Monica, which is so densely populated that 2 miles of driving can take 35 minutes. I am blessed and looking forward to being more available for mentoring students. Thank you for your prayers!

My meeting was canceled in the last minute. I wasn’t supposed to be there and I wasn’t looking to talk to anyone. I needed to get some work done when Matt approached me, he was trying to sell me Hindu books. We sat and chatted. It turned out he was very bitter towards God.

“I would believe in Him,” Matt said “but He is so hidden, He just needs to come down and be real.”

I shared with him, “That actually happened! God wanted to be clear to us so He became flesh in the person of Jesus.”

He responded “I’m just skeptical of religious stuff. There are manipulative and cheating people out there who should not be trusted.”

“I agree,” I said, “but what advantage does Jesus gain from you believing?” I paused “A person is manipulative when they want something from you. But He gets nothing. On the contrary, what Jesus gets from me is a person who continually questions if He’ll come through and keep His promises. Then there’s my anger, insecurity, and unforgiveness which He repeatedly walks me through and removes from me. I have found that Jesus continues to give and love me despite my inability to bring Him anything He needs. His relationship with me is to my benefit not to His. Jesus can’t cheat or manipulate you. You have nothing that He needs.”

The conversation turned back to his frustration with God. I shared “God feels your frustration with Him, but know this, He is not frustrated with you, He sees you and cares deeply about you. However, you have to lay down your frustration to experience His love. If you continue to hold on to it you will never be able to see His love for you.”

The conversation ended, Matt said good-bye and walked away.

Recently, I was searching for a spot on campus to eat my lunch and review attendance for the weekly meetings. I found a nice clean bench, yet something inside told me don’t sit here and I felt redirected to sit in another place that had melted candy all over it. I tried to push the tug aside and continued to sit on the first bench where I wanted to sit, but the internal discomfort happened again so I gave in and sat down on the candy slathered bench not really sure what to make of the inner tug of war.

As I ate and looked over attendance, I realized that a student, Brandon, who joined our group hadn’t returned and I had no way to contact him. I quickly prayed for him, his relationship with God, and his studies. Minutes later “the” Brandon came walking straight towards me! He had tried to come back to our Bible study, however, another event on campus caused confusion making it impossible to find us. On my way home, I realized that the tug of war was before I even remembered Brandon and had I sat on the other bench I would have completely missed reconnecting with him.

Former NFL player Chansi Stuckey, and William Herath, the author of What is Evolution?, have been joining me on campus bringing a new dynamic to serving students. Chansi is considering going into full-time ministry and wants to see what reaching the campus looks like, while Willie has been in ministry for two decades and has a heart to remove barriers which keep students from the faith. Both of these men have been an encouragement to me in my work and I look forward to the assets they will be to the students we reach!

PRAYER POINTS

• Matt

• Weekly Bible Study

• My Move and Living Transition

 

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To learn more about Melanie and how you can support her missionary work financially, please visit How To Give.