“Do not despise these small beginnings….” Zechariah 4:10
A young pastor’s wife in a little college town in Mississippi fasted and prayed that God would send leaders to their church. On the fifth day of fasting, Rice Broocks walked in the door. Steve Murrell also joined that tiny church as a student at Mississippi Student University and became room mates with my future husband, Jerome, a college track star.
The pastor was Walter Walker who in a few years would travel around the world with a teaching ministry. Walter would speak to a small group of college students at the University of Hawaii about discovering God’s will for your life. A sophomore student in Political Science hears that message and God calls her to write. The next day she enrolls in the school of journalism.
The journalism student would spend weekends holed up in her tiny bedroom in a Honolulu apartment listening to Rice Broock’s messages about faith. She would laugh until her sides hurt at Rice’s stories when he spoke at a campus outreach meeting about a guy named Jerome who fried chicken necks for their dinner. “He piled them on a platter in the middle of the table,” Rice said. “And then he said, ‘eat up.’”
Approximately 10 years later, the journalism graduate would walk down the aisle to marry chicken neck chef Jerome. Sixteen years later, the journalism student who became a writer and editor with her husband would have lunch with the pastor who inspired her to write, the evangelist who preached faith through his cassette tapes and the pastor who founded hundreds of churches in the Philippines. They met for lunch at Hattie B’s Hot Chicken in Nashville, TN.
Since those days of eating chicken necks, Rice has written the God’s Not Dead books and founded Every Nation Ministries, a network of hundreds of churches around the world on university campuses. Steve and his wife, Deborah, came through Hawaii briefly on their way to a month long missions trip in the University Belt of Manila. That month long trip would turn into decades of planting hundreds of churches.
The woman who prayed for those future leaders, Linda, was also at the lunch. Jerome and our family stayed with Walter and Linda in Franklin, TN. I would have never thought in a million years that we would meet Jerome’s college roommates who have influenced millions of people around the world or his first pastor, Walter, who pastored Rice and Steve.
Linda’s fasting and praying has changed nations through Rice and Steve. She is one of the funniest, most outgoing women that I know who loves God. Her story spurred me to pray for the next generation of leaders. You could have a “Rice” or “Steve” right under your nose without realizing it. Right now they look like a sassy know-it-all millennial with a man-bun but they could be an apostle or pastor in the making. They just need someone to believe in them and invest in them.
Rice laughingly recalled how he was rebuked daily by Pastor Walter. But Rice was also an encouragement to Walter. Rice, Steve, Walter and Jerome’s friendships brought a flood of memories and lots of laughs as we recalled the ministry we were all involved in. I encourage you to invest in someone by being their friend and praying for them. You have no idea who that person is destined to become. And you have no idea where God can take people from small beginnings.