As my pastor was sharing his heart on how to BLESS others in our community today, I listened and felt an overwhelming desire to share another part of my story with you. Bless stands for: Begin with prayer, Listen, Eat together, Serve someone, and Share your story. Last week he shared about his Miss B, a woman who reached out and shared kindness and love to him and his family. She shared love with him and his parents and she was the catalyst of his faith. He then shared love with thousands.

18 years ago I had been living on my own for almost two years. I was a homeless runaway youth at 15 due to a chaotic home life. When I was 16 I was granted legal emancipation by a judge. After my emancipation was final I was able to purchase a small two bedroom trailer, a $500 car, and I was working three jobs. I was enrolled and attending Alvarado High School. Looking back, I am proud of my hard work and grateful for the help from others, and the fact that I wasn’t homeless anymore was a huge accomplishment (I am still so grateful for my friends family who let me couch surf at 15 until my emancipation was final at 16). I was also desperately working my way through loneliness, fear, anxiety, hopelessness and emotional trauma.

I met a girl at one of my jobs, who is now my sister, and is stuck with me for life, LOL. This girl told me about her youth group and I met her youth pastor, Brian. One Tuesday night this youth pastor and the whole youth group invited me out to dinner. I had no idea that this was an AMBUSH! That is the name that they gave this evening. They paid for my meal at a local Jack In The Box and truly made me feel as if I was part of their group. When I got there after a shift at work, they were all already there. They had a seat for me already prepared. I wasn’t having to figure out where I would sit or if anyone would want to sit with me, like I worried that I would while on my way there. They put me right in the middle of the whole group and surrounded me with love, food and fellowship. They asked me questions and listened as I told them some of my story.

After that evening I had started attending youth group as my schedule would allow me to and the youth pastor asked if they could have their life group meeting in my trailer one evening. I said yes but I had to work that night so I just gave them the key and they returned to my work at Ihop and gave it back after the life group meeting. I have no idea what happened that night but I felt joy seeing their faces at my job. I felt joy and peace when I went home that night. They told me that they spent the evening praying for me, for my future and for my life. I cried. I remember the feeling of hopelessness turning to hope because of these prayers and thoughtful interactions.

One day my old Buick Lesabre (affectionately called the boat) had taken her final voyage and had broken down. I had no one to call at the time but these people who had welcomed me with open arms. I had no extra money so the youth pastor and a student in the youth group who had some car knowledge came over and gave her a look. I never knew to change the oil, something about a gasket (I only remember because it sounds like casket which is where I felt I was headed if I didnt figure something out) blowing up and something else caused my “boat” to say goodbye. Fearful, I wondered how I would be able to get back and forth to work because I worked in the next town over. I would be glad to walk but there were no busses and I knew I couldn’t make it in time after work. Someone in the church had a car for me. (WHAT?) Anyway, this church went above and beyond to take care of me. They looked for ways to BLESS me and truly poured into my life.

As I look back I am so very grateful that they prayed for me, listened to my story, did not make me sit on the outside as they fed me, they served me. Now I am able to tell you my story. I truly desire to share my story as a message of hope. What it can look life if you walk through life with others. You never know what you can do with just a meal and a listening ear. You never know what it means to people that you would care enough to go to their home and pray over them, even if they are not there. You never know what it could mean to AMBUSH someone with the Love of Christ.

Let us ambush and bless others together. I understand first hand how incredibly beautiful it is to benefit from the care, compassion, connection and love.

Stephanie Ellison

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