Benevolence Story: Ashley Stuart of Edinboro

When I heard about the 9:13 project, I began thinking about someone that I could help with my $40. I went a few days without any names coming to mind, I realized that I needed to take some time and really pray about it. I am a runner and after several days of praying I felt that I was suppose to take my money and Christmas Eve invitation with me during my run. I kept wondering how God could use me while I went for a run, but I placed my invitation and money into a plastic ziplock bag and stuffed it up the sleeve of my shirt. As I was running I kept praying and looking for opportunities where God would use me. The day I went running was our first really bad snow. I came across a car accident that had just happened. Two guys were outside of cars talking while their cars sat in the intersection. My heart beat faster as I realized this could be an opportunity. I kept running, telling myself I'd turn around shortly and go back if that was what I felt led to do. I kept running and praying about the situation. When I turned around the cars weren't in the intersection anymore and from where I was, I thought they were gone. I prayed and told God that if this was my opportunity, the cars would be there. "Come on God," I thought, "I need to know if this is it." When I rounded the corner I saw the two cars. I was getting anxious because I realized I'd have to go knock on the car window and explain myself-I'd be out of my comfort zone. However, when I looked in the car no one was in it. I smiled to myself, as I knew God had a plan and this was n't my opportunity.

Days went by and nothing came up. I felt a little defeated, as it was the day of the Christmas Eve-Eve service, and I still hadn't given away my money or invitations. I felt that my opportunity would come while running, and that I would be out of my comfort zone. I laced up and took my plastic bag with me. Outside my house, a young man had run his pickup truck into a tree. Talk about a bad day for him. I watched for a little bit as a tow truck came, someone else arrived in a car, and I saw the guy who was in the accident was about to leave in the car. I ran down the driveway and down my road. He had gotten into the car and the girl that was picking him up was about to get in as well. I was out of my comfort zone as I ran down the road yelling at her to wait.

I ended up ducking my head into the drivers' side and asking him if he was the one who had just crashed. He said yes as he stared up at me puzzled by why I was there. I told him my church had given its members each $40 to help someone in the community, and that I wanted to give my money to him. His jaw dropped and he still looked confused. I told him I didn't know what he had planned for Christmas Eve, but invited him to one of McLane's services. I handed him the plastic bag with the money and invitation in it and told him regardless the money was his to do whatever he needed to. I don't even remember what he said or if he said anything because I was enjoying the little smile of disbelief on his shocked, still jaw dropped face. I said bye to him and the girl whose face might have been more shocked than his. She whispered thank you, and I smiled back.

I took off on my run thinking how lucky I was to be a part of a church that would help their members reach into the community, so they could personally see the look on the faces of the people they were helping. I thought about how through my prayers, it was revealed that I'd be out of my comfort zone and find my opportunity while running, and how right this proved to be. I thought that even if the people I invited didn't come to a service, I know God has used me to be a part of their story, even if it is just planting a seed.