Arlene McVety is a walking miracle. A missionary to Zambia for 16 years, Arlene never left the south central African country without reason, but that changed last year when she suddenly felt the urge to return home to the United States. A day and a half after landing stateside, she realized why the Holy Spirit prompted her to return.
“I was home alone, and my artery tore in my heart and blocked my blood from flowing,” she said. “I made it into the house, called 911 and somehow made it to the hospital.”
Arlene later discovered she had survived a spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD) heart attack. While she lay in a hospital bed feeling like she was at her life’s end, she wasn’t afraid.
“I knew where I was going and I rejoiced in that,” she said. “It’s always been heavy on my heart that people are dying every day without Christ. You never know when your time will come. I almost died, but I’m still here, and I know God isn’t done with me yet.”
With an eagerness to learn why God spared her life, Arlene joined more than 1,000 people in attending this year’s Sharing Hope in Jesus’ Name Conference hosted by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse. The March 11-13 event in Orlando, Florida, had one goal—to inspire and equip individuals to bring Gospel-focused emotional, spiritual and practical care to those in need.
Surrender to God’s Call
Crises are never scheduled. Like Arlene’s heart attack, they can happen at any moment of any day. But unlike Arlene, many people don’t have an undeniable confidence in where they’re going when death comes, and they likely don’t know of the comfort and peace Christ can bring them in the middle of a storm.
Being prepared to face a crisis can completely change a person’s outlook.
And when people suffer, churches must be prepared to compassionately and appropriately respond by sharing God’s hope. All it requires of believers is their willingness to be used by Him.
“Ask the Lord what He wants you to do,” Ken Bevel, a pastor who is best known for appearing in “Fireproof” and “Courageous,” instructed those at the conference.
“The Lord will give you the strength to do exactly what He’s called you to do,” Bevel said. “And the result is changed lives.”
Your calling may not be to the other side of the world in the remote villages of Zambia, but God could be calling you to minister to a neighbor, the person stocking shelves at your local grocery store, or a hurting person in your church.
“What if it’s that one person in your community that still needs to hear the Gospel message?” Bevel asked. “How would you react? I don’t know where your heart is, but it’s all about surrender. Ask the question: ‘God, what is it?’ And then surrender all to Jesus.”
Respond to God’s Call
In a world full of crises, where natural and man-made disasters happen regularly, surrendering our plan to God is essential, and surrender met with quick obedience to His call is critical.
“Too many times, we drag our feet to the obedience of Jesus,” Will Graham said. “We need to hear and see what the King has for us, and we need to go immediately. What the King has for you, you need to do it. …
“Are you willing to lose everything because the King asked you? … He didn’t promise you riches, He didn’t promise you anything, He just asked, ‘Are you going to do this?’ … Are we willing to lose everything because King Jesus asked it of us?”
Sharing the story of when Jesus asked Simon to cast his net deep into the water, Franklin Graham encouraged attendees to step outside their comfort zones and trust God to not only provide, but exceed their expectations.
“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’ Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’ When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink” (Luke 5:4-7).
Watch God Work
“Everywhere you turn, there’s an opportunity to have a ministry of presence,” said Kevin Williams, manager of emergency response and logistics for the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. “It’s not you. It’s not me. It’s the Holy Spirit who works through you and me. He does the work. He takes individuals who are broken and messed up—like you and me—and uses us in a supernatural way.
“So, if you want to experience God, give up the controls. Step out of your comfort zone. Serve the Lord. And watch out because He’ll do great and mighty things.”
The Scripture quotation is taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version.
Above: Will Graham speaks at the conference in Orlando, Florida.
Photo: Thomas J. Petrino/©2022 BGEA