WRITE: Coincidence? Not so much.
So reads a small refrigerator magnet I gave my mom many years ago. It still has a place on her refrigerator.
And in my heart. Ever since I learned that truth, I’ve taken joy in the many times God puts people, events, and situations together in a way others might describe as coincidental but I call God-ordained.
I had one of those such moments as I began training for my recent trip to Peru with Never the Same Missions. I went as the writer for Sisterhood magazine. Since 2010, I’ve had the wonderful privilege of writing about the Never the Same trips to Guatemala (2010), Ecuador (2011), Panama (2012), and now Peru. (Here’s the 2012 article in case you want to check it out.)
I’m so grateful to have taken these trips that combine so many of the things I love: missions, teens, writing, and more. But I had a special reason for wanting to go to Peru.
When I’m not writing for Sisterhood, I spend much of my time writing and editing books. I’ve served more than one author as a ghost- or collaborative writer. They have the story or message. I have the words. But the first book I volunteered to write—and the one that pulled me into so much of what I do today—is the story of a passionate Christ-follower named Brent Higgins, Jr., or BJ, as his family called him.
BJ loved Jesus with all his heart. He loved to share about Jesus so much that, even at the young age of fifteen, he had traveled to Peru twice on 30-days missions trips to tell others about Him.
But BJ was not only a missionary in Peru. He used nearly every school assignment as an opportunity to share his love for his Savior. He journaled about Christ. He texted and talked with others about Him. And when BJ went to be with Jesus five days short of his sixteenth birthday, he left behind a loving family and a prolific body of writings that pointed others to Him.
God allowed me the privilege of using many of those writings to help his parents, Brent and Deanna Higgins, tell BJ’s story in the best-selling book I Would Die for You: One Student’s Story of Passion, Service, and Faith (Revell, 2008). But what connected me with his family was a blog they began back in 2005 while he was in the hospital battling the infection that would later take his life.
I prayed for BJ. I posted. And I bought (for myself and my children) pink T-shirts, created by BJ’s sisters and a friend, to help encourage others to “Pray for BJ.”
I still have my shirt. And my joy in coming to Peru (not once, but twice in the past year) was compounded by the fact that BJ had served there, too.
So imagine my surprise when, on the second night of training, I looked across the room to see a leader I hadn’t met yet clad in that same formerly-bright pink T-shirt with unmistakable black lettering. Chills didn’t run down my spine; they covered my body. I all but leapt to my feet and ran over to talk with a woman I knew must be a kindred spirit.
I don’t remember what I said. But I do remember what she told me: that she, too, had read the blog. That she, too, had prayed for BJ. And that she had not only read I Would Die for You but had bought more than one copy. “Everyone should read that book,” she said.
I couldn’t help but agree.
So, coincidences, God-incidences, and all, I had to smile when my new friend Shelly came over near the end of the trip wearing her “Pray for BJ” shirt once again. She told me the trip to Peru, her first international missions trip, was the fulfillment of a longtime dream.
Me, too, Shelly. Me, too.
And as for coincidence, BJ (as usual) said it best: “There are no coincidences. God orchestrates everything in our lives. So if one random event helps you get through a day, or if someone you prayed for gets better, that’s not a coincidence or just something cool that happened to match up with your prayers, that is God working and answering your prayers” (IM conversation, BJ Higgins, quoted in I Would Die for You, p. 165).
Do you have a (non-) coincidence story to share? Or are you someone who also prayed for BJ, as thousands did across the globe? Share your story in the comments below!
[FTC Disclaimer: I make no money from the sale of I Would Die for You, and the authors did not ask me to post about their book. ] But here are some links in case you want to check it out:
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