We all experience times of testing, which is normal for every human being. But God will be faithful to you. He will screen and filter the severity, nature, and timing of every test or trial you face so that you can bear it. And each test is an opportunity to trust him more, for along with every trial God has provided for you a way of escape that will bring you out of it victoriously.
1 Corinthians 10:13 TPT
No matter what obstacles we encounter in our lives, God is always working behind the scenes to turn these times of testing into victorious opportunities—especially to know, trust, and experience God’s power. One of the ways he does this is by surrounding us with the warmth and support of spiritual friendships.
This is what Aaron Meneses experienced recently. As a single parent, he was studying computer science at the University of San Francisco (USF) during the height of the pandemic. He had worked for over a decade after graduating high school, but had always wanted to go back to school to finish his degree in order to provide a greater life and future for his kids. He worked hard to get admitted to USF’s computer science program, but found himself struggling to balance his a full-time job and demanding course load while caring for his family.
In the midst of these testing times, Aaron was invited to a “Let’s Talk Night” at USF. He saw it as a brief evening study break on campus, not realizing that it would become an opportunity for God to change his life.
Aaron was impacted by the relationships he began building with other students at that Let’s Talk night. Inspired by these friendships, he began opening his life and heart, and decided to study the Bible to get to know God better. He then decided to start coming to church services in San Francisco and built additional friendships with single parents and professionals in the SF ministry.
The SF single parents’ house church adopted Aaron into their spiritual family, and he found hope and help for building his life and home spiritually through these new relationships.
However, as his USF classes became more challenging and other unexpected family and financial obstacles arose, Aaron started pulling his heart back from pursuing God. He didn’t want to just walk away from these life-changing friendships and truth he was learning from the Bible, but the responsibilities of his life were difficult to manage alone.
God leads us with cords of human kindness
I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.
– Hosea 11:4 NIV
It was at that time that Anthony Beckley and Emily Lin (who together lead the SF single parents’ house church) prayed for Aaron and decided to help him build not only his faith, but also key areas of his life. Anthony introduced Aaron to a close friend, Patrick Saldou, who is part of the Silicon Valley ministry and is also a single parent. Anthony knew that with Patrick’s field expertise and background, he could help tutor Aaron to pass his most challenging class at USF.
Patrick invited Aaron over to his house weekly to help him with his Applied Math class. Dreyton Brereton, another single parent in the SF professionals’ ministry, also helped Aaron with his programming class, while Chris Galdamez and Johnny Bonilla, who are part of the singles ministry, would take time to pray with Aaron each week. Patrick Cross from the families’ ministry in San Francisco also helped guide Aaron in learning how to manage his finances and budget more effectively with his different obligations.
While Aaron was getting help with his academic and financial obstacles, he also was faced with obstacles in learning how to parent his kids. That’s when the team of relationships around Aaron introduced him to Ed Martinez, who’s also part of the SF families’ ministry. Ed eagerly began helping Aaron learn to parent his young kids, spending time with Aaron and his family to show him how to communicate with and understand his sons. Meanwhile, the college student disciples and single professionals would invite Aaron over to their households for dinner and homework sessions.
As these friends from the SF campus, professionals, and families took time out to pray with Aaron and go through life together, Aaron began seeing how God was leading him through cords of human kindness to change and rebuild his life. Each of these individuals also joined Aaron’s Bible studies, helping him overcome the obstacles that had undermined his relationships with his parents, family, and God.
Through the Scriptures and friendships, it became clear to Aaron how God was answering his prayers. The obstacles in his life turned into opportunities to learn how to love God, his kids, and his extended family. Aaron learned to take responsibility for his past hurtful choices and sins and decided to reconcile the relationships he had damaged.
When Aaron learned about the cross and the lengths to which God went by sacrificing to give him a new purpose and forgiven life, Aaron was compelled to change his heart and life for God. He decided to get baptized just two weeks ago, ready to live his life for God!
With deep humility and gratitude, Aaron shared at his baptism, “I’m eternally thankful for the camaraderie, my new spiritual friendships, and the fellowship God has given me here. I’m thankful especially to these men who’ve been living out God’s purpose to help change my life! And I’m here today to say that I’m ready to love and build my relationship with God and take the first step in the journey of 1000 miles to live out God’s purpose for my life.”
Amy and I have been personally inspired by how God moved through each of these relationships in San Francisco to change Aaron’s life and show us how, through spiritual relationships, God can transform any obstacle into a victorious opportunity!
Until next time,
Ray & Amy Kim
Lead Ministers, San Francisco