For one family, a fortuitous series of events unfolded right around Christmastime last year. one that was kicked off unusually when a desperate mother accidentally messaged a complete stranger.
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“Hi Brian, wondering if you know a good Bible verse for someone to pray when in deep fear, weak, scared, and personal despair/lost/breaking?”Amy Rickel wrote via Facebook, imploring her friend for some theological words of wisdom. When she realized she’d sent the message to the wrong person, she added, “Wrong person, I am so sorry.â€
But that “oops”moment turned out to be a blessing in disguise; it was the link that connected her with Brian Van Boxtel — the aforementioned stranger — and dozens of others who reached out to help the struggling mother of three children, ages 4, 6 and 8.
Rickel had recently moved to Green Bay, Wisconsin, so her children could live closer to their father. But another, less fortunate series of events left her jobless, homeless, and with a broken-down car.
Rather than dismiss her message, Van Boxtel instead replied with several of the requested verses:
“When I am afraid I put my trust in you”Psalm 56:3
“Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset, do not be afraid.”John 14:27
But he didn’t leave it at that. After hearing her story, he encouraged Rickel to set up a GoFundMe page that ended up raising nearly $1,500 in just 11 days — also from complete strangers.
“I’m pretty amazed. I still kind of find it unbelievable,”she said, sitting in front of a festively decorated Christmas tree. “It has totally restored my faith in more than just humanity, my faith in God.”
Rickel was surrounded by many of the strangers — none of whom had ever met previously — that pooled their resources together to get the family back on its feet. Among them was Chad Morack, who became the link between Rickel’s qualifications as a licensed practical nurse and the new job she started just weeks later.
Kathy Schumann also stepped up with a generous offer, offering Rickel not only the use of her minivan, but clearing out a room in her home for the family of four.
“She really tugged at our heart strings and we just felt like this holiday season we couldn’t let the kids be out in the cold,”she said.
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