19 November, 2014

The Day I Met "Charlie"

This week I've had several people asking me, "is this stuff real?". They are referring to the God encounters... the God set ups and the miraculous. I had someone Sunday tell me they were having doubts. Monday I had someone asking me if the story was true about meeting the young man downtown. After posting yesterday's story about the set up where I met up with Bobby, my friend I've not seen in more than 30 years, I've had a couple people message me and telling me that they just could not believe my stories. One of these people has been a friend for many years and she told me that while she believed in God, she just found my stories too much to be true and she asked me if I could prove it. Well, as I said, Bobby did not give me his phone number, so unless he contacts me (which I believe he will) and he gives me permission to use any identifying information, I cannot "prove" this happened. But as God always does, he does provide a way. Yesterday, when I posted the story, a former church member of mine commented on that story. It just so happens that in the summer of 1993, I met this woman in the exact same manner... a God set up.  So today, I'm going to share the story of the day I met "Charlie." I'm taking an chance and believing that "Charlie" will identify herself by commenting on this with her real name. Let me add this one slight disclaimer. It has been 21 years, so it is possible that with the passage of time, my memory may not be 100% accurate, so I am going to invite "Charlie" to make any corrections to the story, because I want it to be the absolute truth.  Here goes. Hope this does it for those of you who have doubts and those who have insinuated that I simply make this stuff up.
The story of how I met "Charlie".

In the June of 1993 my family moved to Danville, Il to pastor the Bowman Avenue Church of God. This church was small and struggling. When we arrived we had 18 people attending, which included my wife and I and our soon to be 3 year old son. Our daughter was born 2 weeks after we moved there. The church only had older people in it, with the youngest members (other than my own family) being the previous pastor who had just retired. We were working to grow the church, and God was blessing us. My people were some of the greatest people I've ever known, just full of love and willing to do what ever needed to be done. Their age did limit in some areas, but they did what they could. I asked them for the names of people to contact and told them that I would begin praying over those names and ask God to prepare those hearts and to set up times that I could meet them. Some of them gave me names, and one of the ladies, named Paula told me about a woman named Charlie who used to attend there and but had not been for quite a long while. She told me that Charlie worked at Sirloin Stockade. I added her to my prayer list. (I know this is long, but it all is necessary to set up the story, so bear with me.) 

Later that summer I was driving north out of Danville, on my way to Bismarck, IL where I was supposed to visit with one of my members. As I got to the last stop light before you go out of town, as clear as you can imagine, I heard the Holy Spirit tell me to go to Sirloin Stockade, which was just through that light on the right hand side. Now, I had literally just finished eating lunch at the Wiener Works. (Those of you who know me well know of my passion for hot dogs.) I ignored what I was hearing thinking that it made no sense. I drove down the road and I heard again to go back to the Stockade. I kept driving and I heard again, to go there and suddenly my car began to sputter and stalled. I pulled off the road, started the car and turned around, thinking I'd better get the car checked out. When I turned around, the car ran fine. When I got near the stop light, I again heard, "Go into the Sirloin Stockade."  I turned in and I was thinking, "God, this is really weird." I sat in my car for a couple of minutes praying asking God what this was all about. I heard again, "Go inside." I reluctantly went in, and stood in the corner of the room near the door for several minutes saying, "now what?"  I heard, "go order something to eat."  I was like, "but I'm not hungry!" I heard again, "go order something to eat."  So, reluctantly I finally went up and ordered a meal. I did not order the buffet and the guy at the counter thought I was crazy. I mean, everyone goes to SS for the buffet; right?
So, I take my tray and go sit in a booth, and being totally honest, I was not happy. I'm arguing with God at this point, asking him why I was there, why he made me buy a meal that I was not going to eat... wasting money that I really did not have. 

At about this point, God's plan unfolded. I'm sitting there, having myself a little melt down being mad at God when a server walks up. She was very polite, but then asked me with kind of a funny tone in her voice if I was all right. I don't remember exactly what I said to her, but then she said, "Well, my name is Charlie. If I can be of any service to you, just let me know."  It did not click at first, and she turned to walk away. Suddenly I said, "Charlie! You're Charlie?" She looked really surprised and asked, "Do I know you?" I said, "No... I'm your new pastor." Her face went absolutely blank at first, and then just lit up. "Charlie" is one of those people whose entire face smiles when she smiles. You know, eyes twinkle, cheeks glow and grinning from ear to ear. She plopped down in the seat across from me and said, "God sent you to me!"  She went on to tell me how that she had been really struggling in her walk with God for awhile and that literally that very morning before going to work she had been praying and said to God, "I need a pastor!" We sat and talked for awhile and she told me how that she had seen me standing in the corner, as she put it, "looking like you were lost or something." She said that she had seen me there for several minutes and wondered just what was wrong with me. Several times in our conversation she said, "God sent me a pastor!"  

I won't go into all the rest of it for times sake, but "Charlie" and her boyfriend started attending our church and shortly after our meeting her boyfriend gave his life to Christ. They became very dear friends, and a key part of our church. As it turned out, they literally lived about 4 blocks from me and I had to drive by their house every day to get in or out of my neighborhood. Funny that I'd never met them before, but God has his way and his timing.  

Charlie... if you would, I'm asking for you to do me this favor, as a witness to those who are struggling with doubt and proof to those who simply do not believe... would you mind commenting on this to verify this account?  I'm asking, if you would, to comment here on the Blog rather than Facebook (or you can do both) so that it is there for everyone to see, that our God is real and that he does do these things I am speaking about. Again, if I have any of this wrong, or there is more that you remember, please feel free to share.

By the way, I know the skeptic may say I and my friend just cooked up this story. First, let me say that this woman and I have seen each other, if memory serves me correctly, twice in the past 18 years and have not spoken to each other in at least 4 years now, other than a quick comment or two on Facebook. Right Charlie?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Everything is true Pastor Garrett is saying ,but the set up was two fold ,you see i asked God for a pastor ,and i asked God to save my boyfriend before we got married and pastor Darrell came 2 weeks before my wedding and my boyfriend now husband Got saved ,and i got a pastor and God Heard my Heart ,God desires to set you up ,We must watch and pray and ask God for set ups.and most important you must listen to the Holy Spirit and if God ask you to eat twice ,eat twice but listen and Believe .this is a true Encounter with the Holy Spirit.and if i didnt listen to GOD then i woulda missed my set up and my prayers would of been in Vain because i coulda not went to church that sunday and my husband could not of Gotten saved before our wedding ,see it was important enough for God to turn Garretts Car arround not only because my.name was on his list but because I needed a saved husband and a pastor now not to many women get two rightous men in one day .Be blessed everybody and BELIVE .

Anonymous said...

And my Name is Charlie ,i am the waitress ,

Unknown said...

Wow im still amazed at this stoy..
My story .
Cynthia Zumwalt

Cynthia Zumwalt said...

Wow im still amazed at this stoy..
My story .
Cynthia Zumwalt