by Grace Yost
Gifts come wrapped in many ways, and some gifts are not wrapped at all. God’s gifts also come to us in various forms—many times in ways we never expected.
Have you ever considered that the desire to serve God is a gift from Him? Have you dreamed at some point in your life—even your childhood—of serving God in a ministry, or as a missionary? My personal belief is that the Holy Spirit works through our hearts to create within us that desire for service to God and to humanity.
As a child, I tended to be a dreamer. In my early teens, a returning missionary came to our church and related the wonderful experiences his family had encountered while serving in Africa.
I thought how exciting it would be to serve God in that capacity, and although I chose a different path, when I became an adult the desire to serve my God was still in the back of my mind.
“For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.” Jeremiah 29:11 (Amplified).
A God of Second Chances
My career included some responsible jobs and I enjoyed them. But I always felt a void in my life that needed to be filled, and God is a God of second chances.
Although I was no longer young, in 2001, at a 3ABN Rally in Florida, my husband was impressed by the Holy Spirit to move to Illinois to volunteer at the ministry.
My immediate response was, “If the Lord is calling us, then we must go!” However, the word “but” entered the picture, and valid excuses began to surface, like, “All my precious family would be so far away!”
As God continued to work in our lives we made our way to West Frankfort, Illinois—with all our worldly possessions in tow. Then came our declaration, “Here we are, Lord. Use us.”
I was offered a position as a volunteer assistant in the pastoral ministries department.
Oh, Lord, what do I have to offer the Pastoral Department? I wondered.
“Nothing,” was the response I received. “Humble yourself, my child, and the Holy Spirit can work through you.”
Yes, Lord, here I am.
Thus began the most incredible journey of my life, and little did I realize how much my family would grow! Today I have countless spiritual brothers and sisters who live behind bars. As they open up their prior lives to me in letters, I find they all have a story to tell—and most of them start with a broken childhood. Perhaps they were not wanted, or were born to a teenage mother with no means of supporting them. So goes the scenario that Satan sets up to lead them down the path of destruction.
Never in a million years would I have dreamed that this would be my destiny in life—called to reach out and touch lives by sharing the precious Words of the Bible, mingled with words of encouragement. People need to know that it is never too late to make Jesus Lord of their lives.
In turn, I receive treasured gifts from the inmates. Sometimes the gifts come in forms of cards and letters, assuring me that God has truly used me to help them. The most endearing name I’ve ever been called is Mama Grace.
My office is decorated with lovely gifts made by them, including a bar of Ivory soap carved with praying hands, and very recently, a beautifully painted plaque with an affirmation inscription that reads:
Heaven is our home,
This earth we are
Just passing through.
Dear ones, please do not close your ears to the call of God. Unexpected blessings will flow through your life as you allow Him to work through you.
—From the October 2011 issue of 3ABN World