Big Announcement! Good Comes Out of 2020

This is the 2nd installment in the goodness of God in the 2020 series.

By this time, Covid19 has likely impacted someone close to your inner circle, perhaps even in your inner circle. Our Governor this week issued a statewide day of prayer and fasting. As scary as Covid19 is, I believe this year has brought about good things. But people complain, and people are weary.

John 1:5, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Covid19 has changed us. But for Christ-followers, the trials of life are meant to transform us into His likeness and, yes, bring Him glory. With that truth out on the table, I present to you someone who has a story of the goodness of God in 2020.Recently, it was my pleasure to receive a text recently from a past graduate of Buried Treasures Home, where my husband and I were Directors. The text resonated with this idea of the goodness of God in 2020. I asked Shonnon if I could use her words in the text for a blog, and she said she’d be honored. This is in her own words, just slightly edited.Shonnon’s testimony:

As we all know, 2020 has been a strange and weird year for so many. I have heard time and time again how people can’t wait for it to be over. Here is how I Shonnon see 2020….. I can genuinely say that I am more than thankful for this year. I would probably say it has been one of the best years of my life. 2020 started for me at Buried Treasures Home. At Buried Treasures Home is where I grew a hunger for God, who He is. I began to understand the love He has for me the best way I can because we cannot comprehend the love of Christ for us. We just can’t. It took me a little while and a lot of learning, but I began to cling to Him.

By His grace, I graduated on June 1, 2020. That was one of the most significant accomplishments in my life. I received my driver’s license, and God poured His blessings on me with a car. I am honored to live in a home with a fantastic family who guides me and shows me how life is supposed to be. They help direct my path, even on hard days. They show me what true love is and what living a Christian life is.

God has blessed me with a great job, and my boss is a woman after God’s own heart. She prays for me and will pray with me. She also guides and teaches me. I have never had a boss that prays for me and especially not with me, in my entire life. And not to mention a Christmas bonus; I got almost exactly what I owe to have my fines paid off.

And to put the icing on the cake, I was blessed when God put Mrs.Mary and Mr.Roy in my life. They have chosen to pour their lives into mine as I attend their GED classes at the Grace Center in Richland, MS. They never once gave up on me. They constantly encouraged me and loved me, no matter how hard it was. I struggled with Social Studies and had to take the test a few times. I didn’t give up. I kept trusting God even when I didn’t see Him working. He was!!! I passed my GED test, and now I’m graduating in cap and gown. These things I never once dreamed of could happen to me, yet God is pouring favor. Through all of this, Mrs. Valerie and Pastor Clark, and I are closer than ever. When they left Buried Treasures Home, I thought that was it; they are gone for who knows how long. I thought I had lost them forever, and then God shows up again. While they wait to go to their country, God sent them right back to me as they live in a mission house waiting to go overseas as missionaries with the International Mission Board. Through it all, I have learned to do my best and let God do the rest. This is just a taste of what God is doing in my life in 2020, and so much more. Thank you, Lord, for who you are and for blessing me to be a part of this amazing year. God’s timing is ALWAYS ALWAYS PERFECT!! 

Isaiah 43:18-19 Forget the former things do not dwell on the past. 19. See, I am doing new things! Now it springs up, do you not see it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.                                                                                                           

Shonnon Carlson December 11, 2020

Shonnon’s Salvation story:

In October of 2018, I was a resident at Crossroads. Before this, my life was out of control. On this day, there was a conference at the ministry, and I heard testimonies of what Jesus had done for others. I had felt a tugging at my heart for a while even in prison but ignored it. That day after seeing and hearing what others said about Jesus and how no matter what you have done, He still loves me and will still forgive me, I decided, well, honestly, what could I lose? I knew, after all, I have tried everything else, and well, nothing worked. So that evening, when I went to my room, I was listening to worship music, and I said God, please help me. Help me like you have helped others. Everything I have tried and done isn’t working. Please help me with my addiction, my kids, my life. Jesus, please come into my life and save me, and be my Lord and Savior, because Shonnon can’t do it anymore.

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8</

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Do you have a goodness of God in 2020 story? Please share it in the comments below.

Finally Forgiven and Free

It was a summer evening in a satellite prison when we connected with Cassidy. Middle-aged, postured to disappear into the doorway where she leaned; her brown hair draped loosely around her neck and shoulders and a slight smile on her worn face, she stood patiently.

My husband, Clark, and I were there to interview women as potential residents into a transitional home where we serve.

We greeted Cassidy and gathered in a small, sparsely furnished room of 4 plastic chairs and a table to get to know her.

As the interview began, Clark asked her to tell us her spiritual background. Some recent experiences in a large prison and even a baptism there were reported in a soft voice. She went on to speak of attending church services in prison she was now in. Yet, instead of bringing clarity, more questions came to mind. I think our problem was how impersonal the experiences appeared to be to her. We inquired of her upbringing, searching for more answers.  Church or Christian background was minimal. After listening and finding no path to Jesus, I launched a question to her. “Ok, Cassidy, so who is Jesus to you?” As her head drooped, tears cascaded down her face. In a raspy voice, she said, “well, ma’am. I’m not really sure.”

This let us know one thing for sure. She had been chasing God, trying to find Him through religious meetings, but she had not found Him for herself.

We explained this spiritual dilemma which struck a chord with her. I assured her, given the fact she was searching for God, she would undoubtedly find Him. Clark began to go through the scriptures using a tract, and her tears increased as she understood who she was concerned about who God is. As moments passed, her spirit continued to soften. It was apparent she was hearing what her soul needed. The presence of the Holy Spirit accompanied our talk, and soon Cassidy’s humbled voice prayed a prayer of salvation. Understanding who she was talking to and what only He could do for her engulfed her.

When she was finished, she wrote her spiritual birthday on the tract as proof of her eternally significant prayer. We gave her some “assignments” so she could interact with God’s Word and also some assurances and promises for the days ahead. We walked away in the summer twilight, knowing the search for God was over for Cassidy. Peace and gratitude looked good on her. In stripes or not, she had finally found the One who would give her identity beyond her past. She was…finally forgiven and free.

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Now the LORD is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is freedom.

2 Corinthians 3:17