A young girl walked along a beach where thousands of starfish had washed up during a storm. Reaching down, she picked up a starfish and threw it back into the ocean. She did this for some time when someone approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference.” The girl seemed crushed and deflated.
But after a few moments she brightened and bent down, picked up another starfish, hurled it into the ocean, and replied, “Well, I made a difference for that one!”
You may remember reading about the Kenyan woman named Brianna* in a past newsletter. Brianna called three years ago in desperation. “I went online and typed in the Google search bar ‘God, I hate you,’ ” she said. “The Billboard Evangelism website popped up first. Seeing the billboard number, I dialed it.”
I answered the call. She shared her story of immigrating to the states from Kenya and finding a job. She sent some of her money back to her parents in Kenya.
In her circle of friends Brianna met an older American businessman. They became too friendly and a son, Luca, was born. The businessman never came around again and Brianna’s life began to spiral out of control. She needed to provide for her baby but lost her job, her apartment, and her car. She moved to a homeless shelter.
“Why would God allow me to go through all these hard situations?” she asked. “My faith is dead.”
“Do you believe in God?” I asked.
“I don’t know if I do or not,” Brianna sighed.
“God loves you,” I encouraged her.
“I am not sure that He does,” replied Brianna. “Why would life be so hard? Why would everything be going wrong for me?”
I explained that when we live in sin, God cannot answer our prayers or prosper us. Sometimes we reap what we sow. “Have you confessed your sin, are your sins under the blood, and are you baptized?”
Brianna affirmed that she was baptized and did go to church some. But the pastor would hardly ever ask her how she was doing. “I am so lonely,” she said. “Why, if there is a God, is He doing this to me?”
I explained further that God is not necessarily doing this to her but she was facing the result of a sinful world. I also gently encouraged her to examine her heart.
Brianna responded that she had repented and she was not living in sin as far as she knew. I offered to send her some Gospel literature and a Bible storybook for her two-year-old son. A few days later I contacted her to give her the phone number of a local Anabaptist couple. Eventually she was able to contact the Anabaptist family and spent some time with them.
We sent a prayer alert to our supporters in behalf of Brianna, then sent a praise report later since she was doing so well. She regained her faith in God and met with several women from a local church for Bible studies.
One day in 2019, Brianna called. I hadn’t heard from her for about two months.
I could hear her crying. She wasn’t talking. “Brianna, are you okay?” I asked. No response.
I waited as she tried to get her breath. And then I heard her say, “I am just so tired. I am so-o-o-o tired. I am tired of living.”
“Can you tell me what happened?” I asked. All I could hear was her quiet crying.
Then I heard her say again, “I am so tired. If I had a gun I would end my life now.”
I encouraged her to not give up. “You don’t want to harm yourself,” I told her. “We love you and God loves you.”
“But I can’t go on any more.” By now her crying had lessened and she could talk. “If I knew that my son will be okay, I would end it all. I’m so tired of existing. I’m tired.”
I prayed for her again and promised to help in whatever way I could from a distance.
After the call, my wife Larissa and I prayed and cried together, committing Brianna and her struggles to the Lord.
As of this year, Brianna has been doing much better. She dreams of starting a business or helping in some enterprise. Her vision is to help rejected and underprivileged children of our nation. She now works part-time with a non-profit organization that connects people who have the means and heart to help, with orphans coming out of orphanages or foster homes. Brianna said she has been helping a teenaged boy, Joe.
“I told Joe how you [Harold] helped me, and told him that now I am going to help him,” she said. “I want to also show a helping hand to someone in need.”
On a recent trip, our family took time to visit Brianna and her son. Brianna is renting a room from a widow in her church. We spent about five hours with her, eating and fellowshipping.
Brianna deeply appreciated our time together. “Thank you so much for deciding to pass by,” she said. “I remember how our paths crossed three years ago and how it resulted in finally meeting in person. Only God’s divine orchestration made it possible. I was a bit nervous about how it would all go. It’s one thing meeting in person compared to talking on the phone but it felt like meeting old friends. Luca had such a wonderful time playing with your children. He is still talking about them. We immensely appreciate your thinking about us. Thank you for making the last day of 2021 special for us. We definitely will make plans to visit you in Pennsylvania in the summer. Your children were so welcoming to Luca, and you wouldn’t even know he just met them. I hope that their friendship, like ours, will continue. We are just so thankful for you and your family’s friendship and generosity. You have all been such a blessing to us and I pray that God will bless, provide for, guide, and protect you all as you enter 2022. Thank you so much again.”
This is just one of many stories. Brianna has grown spiritually and is enjoying life and her walk with God. However, many more see our billboards and need help. Pray for our team as we daily interact with many people with a story and a need. Many more callers need us to simply make a difference for this one.
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