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.
Chaplain Albert started an I am Second group in one of the pods (dorm rooms) at the Dawson State Jail in downtown Dallas, Texas. We were privileged and inspired to join them as he presented certificates to more than 25 brothers in Christ who had participated in 10 group sessions. In his humble orange jumper, one young inmate revealed, “Finally, I have something that my kids can be proud of their Dad for.” Tears welled in his eyes and his voice cracked with emotion. Hard time. Hard life. Hardened hearts penetrated by the grace of God.
Prison missionaries? Yes! Each is challenged to start their own I am Second groups as they are moved to other pods, and some to other prisons around Texas. The Spirit of the Lord will not be kept outside walls made by men. Pray for God to “grow them in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52)
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.
Bethany Hamilton, the young surfer who suffered a shark attack that left her with only one arm, is having a very busy 2011. She travelled to Dallas at the beginning of the year and filmed her I Am Second film about her faith journey as she was injured and then recovered and returned to the world of competitive surfing. Her story is both shocking and inspiring, as her relationship with God gave her the resolve to not only recover, but to return to the sport she loves.
My big sister just got a haircut. Big news, I know. “Stop the presses,” right? Really though, it is kind of big news. She cut off all of her hair (think Duran Duran circa 1981) and bleached it so that she could dye it. She dyed it pink because she wanted to do something dramatic before it all falls out. It’s all going to start falling out any day now since she just had her first round of chemotherapy this past Friday.
See, for the past few months my oldest sister has been walking down the path of a breast cancer patient. Since her diagnosis she has been to doctors, getting scans, having surgeries, and now she’s in the treatment phase. She’s relatively young, in good health, and we have absolutely no family history of cancer, much less breast cancer. This was completely out of the blue. She has three young daughters whom she home schools, a husband who has faithfully been by her side every step of the process (even when he has to take off work to make it to a doctor’s appointment with her), and, well, a life. She’s a busy woman, but her cancer doesn’t seem to care. Cancer has a distinct way of messing with your plans and flipping your life on its head.
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?