Elissa Salinger, Forest Hills, Tampa

October 7, 2015
This Week’s Storyteller is…
Elissa Salinger, Forest Hills, Tampa
God is the ultimate giver, and as His servant, I, too, must give as I am able.
I must share this story of how God once used me. Let me begin by saying I was having a terrible day. Nothing was going quite my way and I fell behind in my busy schedule between running my start-up business and packing for my move, which left me very flustered by the end of the day. I found myself rushing to Target in search of something to wear to the gym, as all my clothes were in boxes during my move.
As I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed a man who looked to be in his early forties with three children selling bottled water. He held a sign that read, "Homeless family. Anything will help. God Bless." I have always spared change or small bills whenever I saw anyone homeless in need, but this time was different. Without hesitation I found myself pulling out a $20 bill and handed it to the man in exchange for one bottle of water. He looked a bit perplexed at the bill as I said, "God bless you," and continued towards Target.
I quickly made my way to the athletic wear department, and I grabbed what I needed and made my way to my cart. But all I could picture were those three children sitting in the hot sun looking as though they had not had a meal in several days nor a shower. I cannot explain the rush of joy that came over me as I turned away from the registers and went to the grocery section. I grabbed numerous non-perishables, wipes, and towels. I then grabbed three Target re-usable cloth bags to pack it all so they would have something sturdy to carry it in.
After spending half of my earnings on food, I was all too joyful to get back to the man and his three children.
I pulled up beside them and got out of the car. He slowly approached me as I opened the passenger door and pulled out three bags of food, drinks and wipes to clean themselves as best they could. I was taken aback as the man looked in the bags and began to cry. I nearly lost it as tears fell from my eyes. The children ran up and were all smiles looking in the bags. My heart was so full of joy, but I could not take my eyes off the father. I held his hand as he sobbed and muffled that his wife passed away after months in the hospital, and he lost his job of 20 years. He expressed how he had no education and was struggling to find work as they lost their home. He was ashamed that he could not provide for his children as he wanted to. I felt broken, but I knew God put me in front of this man for a reason, so I did what my pastor mother taught me best. I prayed. I prayed with him that God watches over his family and shelters them as He leads them towards a whole life. I prayed He would give this man the strength he needs to persevere for his children and get the work he needs to provide for his family. I prayed God kept them safe on their journey and left him with my single favorite scripture. This scripture has gotten me through my lowest moments and I prayed it would fill this man with the hope he needed.
Jeremiah 29:11-14
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.[a] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
Needless to say, I left with an immense sense of joy throughout my body. I did not care that I was now 45 minutes late for my workout, and there was nothing that gym could have done to make me feel any better than God had that day. I love Him so much! Thank you, Father!
Up Next Week…
Octavious King, University Carillon UMC, Orlando
This disciple’s testimony: Do not let your sins stop you from accepting God’s love and His plans for you.

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