“Don’t come,” I wrote. “Stay home. Don’t get on the plane.”
It was about 36 hours before the students for the School of Event Management course were to arrive. They were coming from Ghana, Italy and China to the Pacific Islands. Their airline tickets were purchased. Their bags were packed. And they were nearly en route. And now they receive this cryptic email.
I went on.
“Don’t get on the plane unless you are sure that you have heard from the Lord that this is where he wants you and the course he has you in. There will be things you don’t expect. It won’t be easy. So I”m telling you now not to get on that plane. We’ll figure everything out. But don’t get on the plane…unless you know.”
I wasn’t sure who I would or wouldn’t meet when their appointed flight times approached.
But let me give a little back story.
Unexpected Health Attacks
I had agreed to co-lead the school for Julie. She would do all the events and everything and I would do the academic part. It was a nice arrangement. If it had only worked out that way.
I was in the Pacific islands preparing for the course knowing that she would be arriving a few weeks before the course actually began. But two weeks before it began, I got an email from her.
“My husband has had some unexpected health issues and some disconcerting seizures. I won’t be making it for this school. You are the leader now.”
Honestly, I didn’t know what to feel. Incredulous was definitely among the selection of feelings. I did not like planning events. I’d never planned large events. I had never been a student in the school. And now I was leading it?
Thus the email. The students were all eager to meet Julie and learn under her expertise. Instead they were getting me.
So 24 hours before they came the email was sent. And like I said I wasn’t sure who would actually be arriving on the plane.
Every one of them came.
The School Begins with the Walls
So we began diving into our studies and learning from our guest speakers. We prayed and felt the Lord tell us to put on a massive Christmas event for our practicum, inviting the whole community to our campus. Our work began.
Except that I ran into road block after road block after road block. I had been away from the campus for some time and nobody knew me. I couldn’t get leaders to make decisions or the huge bands of people I needed to volunteer. No matter how hard I tried, nobody moved forward. This couldn’t be accomplished by a few students. It needed the whole campus involved. But it wasn’t happening.
It then became my turn to pray.
Every night I would get on my knees and beg the Lord, “God, you have got to send her. I can’t do this alone.”
I would then send email to Julie pleading with her to come.
“No,” she said. “You can do it.”
And with more resistance on campus just from lack of familiarity, I still couldn’t get anywhere.
Back on my knees. “God, you have to send Julie! Please send Julie! Make her come!”
I sent her emails.
She said no. And that I needed to stop looking to her for help but look to God.
I went back to being stuck. The students tried their best to move forward. I now was not just on my knees each night but literally crying to God, “Help, Lord! You must send Julie!”
And then in the silence of my soul I felt the date of November 8. Hm. Was she to come that day? I wasn’t 100% certain I had heard the Word of the Lord so I continued to pray.
And then one day I got an email from Julie.
She said, “I finally asked my husband what I should do, because you kept emailing. My husband told me, ‘Julie, you have to go.'”
So she booked her flight and sent me an email. She would arrive. November 8.
The Whirlwind Begins
As soon as Julie came around the momentum began to shift in a huge way. She was more known and an international dean. People jumped to help.
One day when we were at our maximum stress, she stopped us all and said, “Look at our list. Everything we have on her is something we can accomplish. This is not pleasing to God. This is not faith!”
Then she directed us to write down a dream list of what we would love to see happen at our event. Each of us compiled a list, spoke about, put the list aside and thought nothing of it.
We had about everything go wrong that could go wrong. We had a graphic that we didn’t realize had the wrong hula clothing. So we tore down all the posters and put up new ones. Then two weeks before the event we realized we had scheduled it with one of the community’s biggest Christmas events. We found it necessary to change the date. We needed a lot of legal papers from the city. We had to navigate the red tape.
Finally the event came. Thousand showed up and it was a huge success, despite the electricity going over every couple of hours. The whole town was invited to eat on campus if they chose for free. There was dancing, music and more. The health school set up a blood pressure booth and found 27 people that had unusually high blood pressure and were directed to the hospital. The “FREE PRAYER” both had people lining up to get prayer. The homeless were enjoying the food and festivities. Artists had creations for the public. The neighbors had been invited and one who had been burnt by a student with unpaid rent, reconnect after 25 years, mournful that she had let one person cut off the relationship.
Many great things happened. And after the event we collapsed in utter exhaustion.
And then as we were debriefing everything, someone stumbled upon our dream least. Surprisingly with no effort on our own, God had managed to fulfill every one of our desires.
The Goodness Continued
All this time in the back of Julie’s mind had been what would happen if her husband had another seizure issue while she was gone? He was already a post-polio survivor with some crippled leg issues.
But during the whole course nothing happened. And at midnight on the day of the event she hopped in a plane and headed back to Australia. Shortly before she arrived her husband had another seizure.
She was able to be there for him in his hour of need.