Just a bit over 2300 miles from the Virgin Islands stands a small coffee shop called Love-A-Latte. The quaint coffee shop sits in a small rural community in North Central Iowa called Eldora and over the last few years has become a gathering place for Bible study groups, prayer groups, veterans discussing politics and neighbors meeting up to plan events, share and just hang out.
As you can imagine, in a small town, there are no secrets, especially if you are sharing them in a tiny coffee shop. Such was the case two weeks ago as a member of our tactical team was sharing about the need for people to adopt the EMT’s on St. Croix. As the story and the needs were revealed amongst a small group of four, they were joined by a local woman who was preparing for her weekly prayer and study group that was to be meeting at the next table.
Within 30 minutes, our team member was addressing the whole group of women that had gathered and the vision was cast; they would begin to pray about adopting the EMT’s and attempt to start meeting the needs of these brave men and women that have suffered great personal loss yet have continued to serve faithfully on the tattered island.
As the group of women adjourned with the new challenge, our team member was approached by a young pastor that had been sitting yet more table away.
“I couldn’t help but overhear your talk,” he began. “Our church is small, but I am wondering if there is something we can do…”
Remembering the #1 rule of deployment which is “take care of your feet”, our team explained to the young preacher that perhaps they could assist us in at least acquiring new boots for the EMT’s. Unlike regular shoes or boots, the boots required by a responder can quickly become expensive and can also be difficult to find in the correct sizes. Excited that someone was wanting to assist, our team went to work getting the names of each EMT with their sizes.
Within three days, we heard from the young pastor. Their small church, located in a neighboring town with a population of less than 400, had raised a monstrous $600. It was hard to contain our excitement as we had just secured a price of $49 for $180 boots. Our information was that there were 15 EMT’s on the island so we anxiously awaited for the sizes and made the appointment to meet with the minister.
Our team member in Florida sent the list she had received from the EMS Director… 19 EMT’s and 8 of the pairs of boots would be custom sizes.
There was no way we would be able to purchase the boots and ship them to the island for $600. I was overwhelmed with disappointment for almost half a day but suddenly felt a surge something I do not feel often in this line of work…faith.
Sitting once again in that small coffee shop, I called my wife.
“I am not going to make this happen,” I told my wife. “I know that God knows how important this is, not just to the EMT’s but to this small congregation that stepped up in such a big way. Our meeting with the pastor is in 6 hours. God has that long.”
I called our team member in Florida to tell her the bad news. As she was entering a meeting in Florida, she was surrounded by people who could overhear her conversation.
As I shared our predicament, a lady next to her interrupted our conversation offering $100. She said she would send the check within hours.
Calling my wife from the coffee shop yet again, I told her God had just found another $100. As I hung up, another local minister entered the coffee shop and sat beside me and another of my team. As he ordered his coffee, he asked what we were discussing. We shared about the $600 and then the $100. He added another $100.
Now, excited more than ever before, I looked at my watch and saw that we had 5 hours left. We began to get online with the boot company to put the purchase into a Cart, but unfortunately began to find out that the specialty sizes were going to cost up to three times more than we had anticipated. Now we had more EMT’s and the boots were going to cost too much. It seemed like we were going backwards again.
Another call to my wife and another update. I hoped God was watching the clock; there was no way I could tell this small church that they were going to have to settle for only SOME of the boots.
As we finalized the list and looked at the shipping costs, my assistant excused herself from the coffee shop to run an errand across town with a local veteran.
Nervously I attempted to get some work done at the office for the next two hours. We had two hours left.
My assistant arrived and stood in front of me with a strange look on her face. “How much are we short?”
The answer, now that the order was ready to place, was still almost $450.
She explained that when she had been meeting with the local veteran and business owner, he had asked about her morning. She shared about our predicament to which he replied, “As soldiers, we were told to take care of our feet first or we would be useless!”
At the end of her story, she handed me a $300 check made out to the church that he had generously written to help solve our problem.
My wife arrived up at the coffee shop an hour later. The young minister was not far behind. We were still short. The shipping was going to kill us.
As I shared the story of God raising money all morning with the minister, his eyes welled up as did ours. Suddenly, my wife announced she was done placing the order. As we had shared the story of the morning’s miracles and talked about how God was honoring the church’s willingness to help, my wife had received a notification from both of the company’s we were ordering from giving her almost exactly $150 in discounts.
Long story, right?
It is about to get a lot longer. You see, the boots are on their way. All of them. What that means is that those EMT’s on the island will be able to go farther, do more and save more. They will know more than ever before that God is taking an interest in them. They will pass that along and that story will grow and continue for years to come.
2300 miles away, the same will happen in a tiny town of less than 400 as the members of a very special congregation will know that God is investing in them and what they are doing, that He is honoring their hearts and their sacrifices. That will change that church forever. It is probably no coincidence that the small church that answered the call is located in “Union”, Iowa. They will forever be joined to St. Croix.
As for our team members, it has already changed us because we are now convinced that God is having coffee every morning right here in our town and he is eavesdropping on every conversation.
We cannot wait to see what he pulls off next.