In 17 months, five of my close family members passed away. In addition, my husband and I both went through challenging job changes. As we prepared for employment transition I was fighting a respiratory infection and found a bump on my neck. I sensed God instructing me to get an ultrasound, so I made an appointment.
The night before the ultrasound I attended a women’s event at our church. I prayed silently at the altar, “God, you know what’s going on and what I’m concerned about. Please speak to me tonight.” Right there, a woman placed her hand on my neck and prayed for me.
After the ultrasound I heard from my physician: “It looks like an enlarged thyroid. We need to get you in to see an Endocrinologist. Let me make a call to schedule an appointment for you.” Within minutes the assistant called back and marveled, “I’ve never been able to get someone in so quickly. There’s an appointment for 2 o’clock this afternoon. I highly recommend you take it.”
Recently my husband and I headed out for some dinner and conversation. On a “whim” we chose to go somewhere we’d never been before. It was a cool place – part bar, part restaurant.
A few minutes after we arrived and were seated, an older gentleman came in and sat a few seats away from my husband at the bar. We continued our conversation while the gentleman sat by himself.
Then, clear as day, I heard: “talk to him.” My husband heard it too, “talk to him.”
I fought it, but the message on my heart was insistent. “Talk to him.” Finally, my husband reached over and introduced himself to the man. He was receptive and mentioned that he was a former helicopter pilot for the Marines. We had a nice chat, but it didn’t seem important, yet. Then, the elder man’s son and daughter-in-law arrived. The son had waist-length, jet-black hair and wore shades indoors. The woman was dressed in a suit, but also had wild hair, piercings and tattoos. They sat next to us and we exchanged introductions.
Like many young married couples, David and Bria Bickerstaff were going through life distracted by the daily needs of their blended family. With two young children and one teenager, life was full of activity but meandering in meaning. Up until two years ago something was clearly missing.Then they both attended I am Second’s 2nd birthday celebration, at which they encountered uplifting stories of how God had and was continuing to work in the lives of people through I am Second’s outreach. From the music of Matthew West to the appearances of 32 “seconds” from the website, the Bickerstaff’s hearts were drawn towards the movement. What’s more, at that event, Bria began a relationship with Jesus with night by accepting Him as her Lord and Savior.
From that point on Bria’s life reflected a major change. She radiated joy, filled with a passion for God and the desire to share him with others whenever she had the opportunity. The couple attended more I am Second events and began to bring its principles into their family.
Never was this more evident than throughout 2011. One tragedy after another came about- loss of family members, accidents, other near-death experiences. Yet their faith held. And became even stronger as Bria battled breast cancer. In February, 2012 Bria lost the physical battle, but entered heaven for her eternal reward.
At her memorial service her pastor said, “The most comforting thing we know for sure is where she is right now. When Bria took her last breath, she didn’t leave home, she went home because of her personal relationship with Christ.”
In her final years Bria encouraged everyone to know Him and become Second. Today, she continues to serve as an example. What a blessing she decided to follow Jesus in time.
Don’t delay. Learn what it means to become Second.
Newlyweds Sarah and Hugo attended Bible college together in Argentina. There, they learned of God’s love and character, growing closer to Him and to each other. With passion for the Lord and reaching others for Christ, the Liborio family became missionaries abroad in the Dominican Republic.
Hugo found the I am Second movement to be a powerful tool for sharing his faith and wore the wristband everyday. Though a young and healthy man, while home on leave he suffered an aneurysm during a pickup basketball game.
Unconscious and in critical condition, his wife fished out a simple black bracelet beneath the many hospital bands on Hugo’s wrist. In white writing was his lasting statement: “I am Second.” Wrought with grief Sarah thought,“maybe it was God speaking to me in a voice that I could be comforted by.” As her husband’s earthly body slipped away, she felt him reassure her, “If God needs my life… it’s O.K. because I am Second.”
The inside of Hugo’s wedding band is engraved with “I am Second.” Today Sarah shares what she calls “the I am Second night I had with Hugo.” Her loss becomes a legacy of gain as Jesus Christ is glorified and others are inspired to share, to connect – to become Second.
As she says, “No matter what the cost, I will serve God.”
In life, the One who is First gives purpose. In death, the One who is First gives comfort.
Sarah and Hugo’s story and his legacy of Second is celebrated in her book and website.
The message of I Am Second is to put Christ first in everything. When we do that, He often gives us amazing ways to demonstrate His love for others. Laura Klock, whose story is shared in her I Am Second film, is getting to do just that.
She and the company she and her husband Brian own, Klock Werks Kustom Cycles, are participating in a program called “Helping with Horsepower.” She teaches teenage girls how to restore a motorcycle. But these young women are not your average teens. They’ve dealt with difficult family circumstances and are learning to overcome life obstacles. How can fixing a beat up bike help? Watch the whole story here- Helping With Horsepower.
Philadelphia, PA recently launched a mini-I Am Second campaign in their city. Here is an amazing story of God’s transformational love in that community:
A member of our church began a Bible study at the factory where he worked as a chaplain. 29-year-old chef Steve from the café began attending regularly. Blake invited Steve to church for an I Am Second sermon series after they had walked together through the Bible for seven months.
Steve was going through a very ugly divorce due to his affair and other indiscretions. As he began attending church with Blake, the movie theater where the church meets became a good place for Steve and his wife to exchange their young daughter. They were distant and cold toward each other at that time. As the series continued, Jess began sitting through the service with Steve and their daughter. She brought divorce papers one Sunday and Steve signed them.
The next week the church showed the Scruggs video about a restored marriage after divorce and an affair. Steve and Jess both sensed their hearts changing. The divorce papers were already turned in, but they had failed to get them notarized so a new set of papers were given to Steve. After the sermon he told Jess that he would sign them after the 13 week sermon series ended. Each week they were moved by the videos and the sermons.
Finally, after meeting personally with the pastor for several weeks, Steve responded to the gospel and was saved. He was dramatically changed over the next few months and Jess noticed the changes. She also heard the gospel but has not yet responded.
Over the last eight months their marriage has been put back on a path to restoration. They now live together again and are in counseling. This couple was as good as divorced when God intervened and used the IA2 series to introduce them to Jesus Christ. Next week Steve is proposing again to his wife that they might renew their vows.
I just wanted to tell you how much I have enjoyed the messages that I am Second and the 22-Day Challenge sends to the lost and saved world.
Approximately one year ago, someone shared the website with me and I have passed it on to others. The videos are so powerful and heartfelt.
While all of the speakers in the videos are diverse, I can see a glimpse of myself in them all. We all have a story and the main character is God.
Thank goodness for His Mercy and Grace.
Your ministry is a blessing and I pray God continues to bless others through your service.
As I was watching Nicole’s video, one thing really hit me. When she was thirteen, something that she had known all of her life changed. She was no longer the child of a man who had simply passed away, she was the child of a man who had committed suicide. Shock, depression and even anger accompanies a revelation like that. Worse than that was the new found added fear that because of his suicide, she now would only find rejection from God and from the community. Too often, we find this stigma attached to people that have been through tough times. Perfection holds the highest esteem in the public’s eye, but that is quite the opposite with God. God can do nothing with someone who thinks himself perfect. It is usually only when we experience anguish, rejection, fear do we turn to God, and His open arms. We should be thankful that God does not ask us to be perfect before we approach Him, rather that He will perfect us.
When I was younger, my parents went through some very rough times financially. It was even to the point that we had no house, and lived in the back of a shop my dad owned. How do you think I felt going to school, not being able to invite friends over to my house to play, and couldn’t ride the bus like I had up until then, because the bus doesn’t stop at shopping centers. It was devastating. However, as I grew older, I came to realize that even if people that I went to school with looked down on me because of it, God never did. God didn’t care that we had to live in those conditions. God’s love isn’t held back from someone because they are socially unacceptable. Jesus proved that when he talked with the woman at the well. Paul wrote in Romans 8, “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” This is something that we can always focus on when going through a rough transition in life, and be reassured that God’s love will never be held back.
How many people have been rejected by the social community because of circumstances that shouted “imperfection” on them? How many times has this happened to you? What can you do to make sure others always feel God’s love?
I feel the most energized Monday mornings. Without a doubt, after spending my weekend with friends and family that I love, I’m ready to get the week going! I’m one of those weirdos who LOVES going to work. There’s a reason though: I get to help others do all of the things that made my weekend awesome. Spending time with neighbors and friends, sharing the love of the Lord through our I am Second group, and watching new believers grow through community and truth. Sounds pretty ideal, doesn’t it? I have to admit: I love my life! I love getting the opportunity on a regular basis to share what the Lord has done in my life (http://iamsecond.com/#/seconds/Shannon_Culpepper/).
I’m not here to brag or boast or tell you how awesome my life is. I understand there are a few things I’m blessed with from working for a ministry. I’m here to tell you that my joy comes not from my vocation, but from the love of Lord and getting to watch the way that He can use someone as broken as me to bring glory to Himself and love to others. Specifically, I get the most joy from the work I see outside of my 40/hr a week job. It’s humbling. I am in no way deserving of getting to be a part of His plan, but because I am obedient when He burdens my heart for people, He is able to use me. All that to say this: YOU CAN DO IT TOO! What are you doing on a regular basis to reach out to those around you? Let me give you a few ideas:
Start an I am Second Group. I know I say this a lot (because I think it’s a great idea!), but if you haven’t looked into yet, I would encourage you to! Last night, I had four separate times that I was left speechless when I realized the work that the Lord was doing in people’s hearts/lives right before my eyes. I’m not a seminary student. I don’t know my Bible backwards and forwards. I haven’t even been a believer for that long. But I get the opportunity to grow towards Christ with my friends every week and help point those that are looking for Him find their answers. http://iamsecond.com/getinvolved/GroupTools.html
Invite your neighbors over for a game night. In a busy world like ours, it’s easy to never meet your neighbors. I would encourage you to get to know your next door neighbors, your neighbors across the street or hall, and have a fun night for all of them. Maybe make it a potluck! Then, you can invite them to your I am Second group!