Whenever I need God to show up in my situation, this is one of those stories I always go back to. He’ll show up. He always will.
(July 17, 2019)
I was running late to my morning meeting, after barely getting any sleep the night before.
The day before, my friend and former colleague Fiona invited me to have breakfast with the women who ran the communications of Every Nation Campus in different parts of the world. Wow, I thought. Definitely not missing that.
I finally arrived and, after apologizing profusely for my tardiness, made my way to the end of the table.
On cue, Maya, my colleague and flat mate, and Fiona introduced me to the group. I noticed that most of the group had already begun eating, so I excused myself to quickly get my breakfast at the buffet.
By the time I got back to my seat, there was a funny discussion going on about the diverse personalities we had in the Philippine office where some of us knew about local television, while others weren’t updated with the latest artists of today (I fell under the latter).
“But Sam’s a great writer and editor,” Fiona added.
I wanted to sink in my seat at that very moment. I haven’t really written-written for months, and was rusty at best. But Natalie, the girl who sat across me, started asking me more about writing.
Natalie was half American and half Filipino. In other words, she was very beautiful.
But more than her beauty, there was just something so pure and honest about her that made me feel like I could talk to her about anything, even if we’ve just met. When she’d ask questions, you knew that she genuinely cared to know your thoughts. And perhaps this was the reason why I was drawn to her and we ended up having our own conversation at the end of the table.
She shared bits and pieces of her story. The most recent one was about how she met a guy named Pedro* from our church in Spain through pastors they both knew. She shared that, after months of talking online, it was only the day before when they finally met in person and he asked her to be his girlfriend.
I shared parts of my story as well. I told her how I became serious about my faith in college. How my career started off in advertising until I did some editing work that eventually led me to working for the ministry.
Just hearing her story and sharing mine in those few minutes did something to my soul. There were times when I wanted to tear up from hearing how God moved in her life, and I believe she shared those same sentiments, too, as I shared my life to her.
Our breakfast meeting eventually came to an end, and we all moved on to our next meetings.
Later that day, at around 1:30 pm, I was scheduled to meet Maya at the Marriott lobby; the only place at the Marriott with Wi-Fi for those who weren’t hotel guests. After waiting for more than ten minutes, I figured that she must have been caught up in a place that didn’t have Wi-Fi.
Just then, Natalie showed up. She, too, was scheduled to meet someone by the Starbucks at the lobby. We figured we’d wait together, and I used the opportunity to tell her the rest of my story.
“It’s amazing how God already knows what will happen to us even before we do,” she said.
But what she told me next really took me by surprise. It was one of those rare moments when I couldn’t deny that God was behind all of this.
“Can I share something crazy? Before the conference, I was praying and asking for a God moment (when something happens and you will know for certain that it’s from God),” she began narrating. “And about two weeks ago, He told me how I would meet a woman at the World Conference and I saw exactly this scene. Me, standing at the hotel lobby, with a woman with short brown hair wearing a black shirt.”
My breath caught in my lungs.
“I wondered if it was you when I saw you at breakfast. Then I thought, ‘That can’t be her! Anyone else could have short brown hair and be wearing a black shirt at this conference with thousands of people!’” she shared. “But now, standing here in this spot with you, Sam, I am pretty sure that it was you! You were the girl God told me that I’d meet at this conference!”
Her whole face lit up, as did mine—both ecstatic, teary-eyed reflections of one another.
“This just makes me so encouraged by the fact that God knew,” she said. “He just knows.”
I was just beginning to tell her how important her story meant to me, when her friend arrived and we said our goodbyes.
Meeting Natalie was a miracle in itself.
I wish I had more time with her at the lobby that day to tell her about my journey to the World Conference—
How the whole trip started out as a crazy prayer I asked God for in September of 2018,
How I had spent nights crying and asking God to take my desire to travel away, when the figures weren’t matching the amount I needed to raise for the trip,
How bits and pieces only started falling into place in April, just three months before the conference, and that I only got money for my food expenses two days before my flight…
….but I never got the chance to.
When I found Natalie later that day, she was working at the merchandise booth. Her hands were full, so I just asked for a quick photo with her for my memory.
And while I never got to tell her the full story, I knew it was just one of those things God wanted me to keep to myself for a while just to tell me that, way before I did, He knew that I would make it to the World Conference.
God knew. He just knows.
*Note: Congratulations to Natalie and Pedro who got married last September 9!