WHAT FAITH CAN DO                                                                                                                   Andy Hollifield 4-5-19

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

I haven’t asked permission from my friend to use any of these stories you are about to read. But I know him well enough to know that if it can encourage someone, he would want it told. I will call my friend Joey just for the purposes of privacy. If you met Joey, you would not immediately think of him as a great warrior of the faith or a preacher. He is like me; he doesn’t look the part. He comes across as someone who has never met a stranger and someone you think you could spend the day fishing with and shooting the bull. The first day I met him, my family and I had lunch with him and spent about two and a half hours I guess, swapping missionary “God Stories” as I like to call them. I want to share some of them with you because I have no doubt whatsoever about their validity because Joey is one of the most humble, unassuming people you could ever hope to meet. He doesn’t put on airs for anyone but impresses everyone that takes time to get to know him. If you asked him how he would like to be known by others, I am sure he wouldn’t say as a great pastor, but from speaking with some of his church members, I can tell that they consider him as just that. He would be the very last to consider himself as a great missionary, but I am sure there are hundreds of kids and families in his area as well as school teachers and administrators, that would beg to differ with his opinion of himself. My guess would be, based on the considerable amount of time I have spent talking with him, he would like to be considered as a man of faith but also a man of prayer. But, like I alluded to his character earlier, you would likely never hear him say it out loud. He is far too humble to have that high of an opinion of himself. His focus in all that he does is to lead the lost to Jesus and to please the Lord with his life.

One of the stories Joey shared with me the very first day I met him was about a time when he ran out of toothpaste. I know you are probably thinking that toothpaste couldn’t possibly have anything to do with faith but that’s where you would be wrong. If God can use toothpaste to strengthen one’s faith and bring glory to his holy name, he can use anything. Joey came upon a time when he was in bible college when he only had five dollars to his name. He was in his late twenties and was a full-time student with no job. This particular week found him squeezing the last particles of toothpaste out of the tube and like he does with everything in his life, he told the Lord that he really needed a tube of toothpaste. If I remember the story correctly, he prayed that morning and explained to the Lord that he really needed to use his last five dollars for gas so he wouldn’t be walking across campus in the rain all week but he really did need toothpaste. He put the gas in his tank and drove on to class. I am not sure but I believe this same scenario took place every morning for a full week. On this particular day when he was walking toward class, one of his classmates called his name from a few parking spaces down. He asked him to walk over to his car for a minute. When he got there, the boy gave him some suits or some kind of clothes he had gotten somewhere. Joey really needed them and was thrilled to have been given them. As he thanked the young man after putting the stuff in his car, the young man hollered and asked him to come back and said he had forgotten something. As Joey got closer the boy told him apologetically that he hoped he wouldn’t be offended with what else he was about to give him. He reached in the back of his car and brought out a bag and explained that his parents had to take this out of stock at their store because it was about to go out of date. As he handed Joey the bag, Joey saw that God had answered his prayer abundantly. The boy hadn’t given Joey a tube of toothpaste but an entire case. That was enough to last for at least a year. As Joey took his seat in class moments later he was still wiping tears. His professor asked him what had him so worked up and if he would like to share it with the class. With tears streaming from a heart overwhelmed with joy, he told his classmates how he had been praying for toothpaste and had run out that very morning and God had given him a whole case. That is only one of the stories that he shared as we sat in that burger joint with our hearts bubbling over at the thoughts of how sufficient God’s grace really is.

Another story he told was how he got into bible college to begin with. After much prayer, he had received his answer from God that he was supposed to attend bible college. He went to the admissions office and sat down for a meeting with an admissions counsellor. After pleasantries were exchanged, the man began asking the pertinent financial questions and breaking down the costs. He told Joey how much he needed to start classes and asked him how he would like to pay. Joey then explained that he didn’t have any money but felt led of the Lord to be a full-time student. The man typed in his computer after every answer Joey gave him. When asked how he was going to pay Joey simply responded that he didn’t know and was just following the Lord’s will. The man continued typing and asked if the church Joey pastored was going to pay for his schooling to which Joey replied that they weren’t. He then asked Joey if his parents were going to pay for his college to which Joey responded that he wasn’t even going to ask them because God would make a way. After several questions of this type the man continued typing and would stop and with a confused look mutter mostly to himself, “This can’t be right.” He would type and then mutter again that something wasn’t right. This happened a few times altogether and the man finally quit typing and looked at Joey and explained that he couldn’t understand how the numbers were possibly right. He then asked Joey if he could come up with fifty dollars for the first semester. That was for tuition, books, and all if I am not mistaken.

One more story is about the van that Joey now drives. His mom told him about a van that someone was selling and they were taking sealed bids up until a certain date. She suggested that he send in a bid to which he replied that there was no way he would possibly get it for what he would be able to bid. Finally the last day of bidding came and he told his mom that it wouldn’t do any good but to send in a bid for the number the Lord laid on his heart when he prayed about it. To make a long and wonderful story a little shorter, he had placed the winning bid. All of the bids were far below the Blue Book value and his was fifty dollars more than the second place bid.

From toothpaste to college enrollment, to a used mini van, if you seek God’s will for your life he will make a way. Joey taught me a valuable lesson about faith that makes a lot of sense. He said he tries to never pray for God to provide a way for him to come up with money to meet a need. He just asks God for what he needs. He prayed for toothpaste and God answered in abundance. He prayed about bible college and God provided an unheard of discount. He prayed and sent in a bid at the behest of his mother and bought a van. Evidently, a lot of times mother still know best. I know mine does.  That van is now an incredible asset to Joey’s mission work. Don’t ask God to make a way for you to be able to do something, just ask him to do it. After all, Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 6:32 “….for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” Philippians 4:19 also says, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”  Heaven is not bankrupt and never will be.  These three stories are just real life examples, from a friend of mine, of what faith can do. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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