Have you ever found yourself in a place that you really didn't want to be surrounded by people you didn't know counting down the time for your departure? That was my experience Saturday, June 17, 2017. My sons and I went to visit family in Riverside, CA and found ourselves in the home of a stranger celebrating the graduation of a stranger. We were counting down the time until we could leave, that is, until we had a divine meeting with Ms. Cora and Uncle Cliff. These persons are not blood relatives, but most certainly felt like family by the time we left. My sons' 13 year old cousin made the mistake of telling Ms. Cora the he didn't like school. Ms. Cora, in her 80 year old plus wisdom said, "Oh no, you are a black boy who will one day be a black man, you have to love school." She spoke to him from her experience and soon began to carry on conversation with the rest of us. But it became obvious that Malcolm's comment simply did not sit well with Ms. Cora. She stopped mid-sentence, pulled out a piece of paper and an ink pen from her purse and said, "Young man, come here and write your name down. I'm going to pray for you." Ms. Cora mentioned that she prayed from 4:00 AM until 12:00 PM every Sunday; she had a prayer book, and she wanted to pray for Malcolm. As Malcolm began to write his name, I asked Ms. Cora not to forget my sons. I told her they needed prayer too. As they began to write their names, I told Ms. Cora I needed prayer too. Before we knew it, all of us had our names written down for Ms. Cora. You could just tell that she is someone you want praying for you. If you have seen the movie War Room, you should be very familiar with the character by the name of Ms. Clara. Well, I met my very own 'Ms. Clara' in the form of Ms. Cora. The resemblance in names and features is quite striking. Coincidence? Nah!
A little while later, we were blessed to engage in a conversation with Uncle Cliff. Come to find out, Uncle Cliff was a recovering drug addict, who had been to jail in six different states, had been to prison, had been a pimp, and had previously been married with a wife and children living on one side of town and women out in the streets on the other side of town. Uncle Cliff shared that he had not grown up in a dysfunctional home, but had simply made a decision, a wrong and costly decision. My sons and I, along with the others we had come with sat on the edge of our seats hanging on to his every word. Uncle Cliff began to share the unbelievable story of how he met his current wife, Aunt Freddie. Uncle Cliff shared that when he went to prison he made a decision that when he got out, he was going to church. He stated that it wasn't so much that he had given his life to God, but that he had made the realization that people who went to church typically did not land themselves in prison, so he made the decision to go to church. When the day came around for him to put his words to action, he decided not to go, but said he clearly heard the voice of God tell him this was his last chance and that the next time He would kill him. Uncle Cliff found himself dressed for church in 2.2 seconds. He quickly made his way to church and hasn't stopped since. It was at church that he found his current wife. He saw her, but was only able to see her face, and to his surprise he was attracted to her. He said he could see joy and happiness all over her; she was pure beauty. He was shocked that he was attracted to her because it was customary for him to check women out from the bottom up. He immediately fell for her and felt like God told him she was the one. On their first date he handed her a single rose and she said at that moment it was impressed upon her that he was the one. The very next day he called her over to the house because he knew he had to tell her about his life before the church folks did. They sat on the couch and he told her all about his life. When he finished, Ms. Freddie simply said, "That's it?" She said although he didn't know it, the Holy spirit had already impressed upon her that he was the one, so there was nothing else for him to say. Ms. Freddie shared that she had, a year prior, decided not to date anyone and just spend time with God getting to know Him and herself. And then what do you know, God sent her Uncle Cliff. That day, the day after their first date, Uncle Cliff asked Aunt Freddie to marry him, and she said yes. Not only did he ask her to marry him, but he also made a vow not to have sex with her before getting married. He wanted this time to be different than his first time around. It's 32 years later and they have seemingly shared an amazing life together. They started a business and share in the ministry of working with recovering addicts. This of course hit home for me, and I realized that his ministry may not be something he would be able to do had it not been for the road he traveled. Uncle Cliff spoke candidly to the boys about the choices you make in life, the impact they have on your future, and how to treat a woman. He spoke to me about my future. He, somewhat singled me out of the crowd, encouraged me to pursue my dreams and let nothing stand in my way. He encouraged me to do the unthinkable...to reach for the stars. This man that I had never met before, and told nothing about my dreams, told me he saw something in me, and he knew that whatever I wanted to do, would get done. This was so affirming and emotional for me. He went outside and came back with a book titled, DeathDance, and handed it to me. Little did I know this was a book that he had written about his life. I can hardly wait to read it!
Ms. Cora and Uncle Cliff, I believe, were definitely sent to us by God. They were an unexpected welcomed surprise. God knew exactly what each of us needed, when we needed it, and how we needed it. He had a message for each of us! Had we been in a rush to leave, we most certainly would have missed these blessings.
Be open, live in the moment, take the good with the bad and trust God through it ALL, pay attention, and allow God to do the rest!
My life, my testimony!
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