The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.” [30] Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” [31] The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.

Acts 8:29-31 NLT

Oftentimes, God brings us alongside people who are searching for him, but don’t know how to find him. Like Philip, we each have a choice to either pass them by, or take an interest in helping them get to know God for themselves. 

USA Today says that “only a quarter of Americans attend weekly religious services now.” At the same time, Gallup says that 81% of people in the U.S. believe in God. It’s clear to us from these numbers that while fewer people are looking for organized religion, many people are still searching for God.

With this in mind, we want to share a story about how God moves us to personally connect with those around us, showing them God’s love for them through our friendship. 

Nancy Jacobsen and Maura Valencia met as coworkers 47 years ago when Nancy was just 19 years old. Nancy would often want to invite Maura to church with her, but she was too afraid because Maura had expressed not being interested in church in the past.

More than 30 years later, God provided the opportunity for Nancy and Maura to reconnect. Nancy and her husband moved to Napa about four years ago to take care of Nancy’s mom, and Maura moved to the same area just a few years later. It became clear to Nancy that God had kept this friendship going for over 40 years so that Maura could find a relationship with him, so Nancy invited Maura to church.

Maura loved church. She loved learning about God and enjoyed the close friendships she formed with other women who embraced her like family. 

The women in Fairfield asked Maura to study the Bible to build a relationship with God. Much like the man in Acts 8, Maura’s response was, “Yes, I want to study the Bible because I haven’t had anyone explain it to me.” Despite Maura’s challenges and limitations with dementia, learning about God and the Bible was a desire that she had since she was a young girl. 

The women in Fairfield built great friendships with Maura over several months, taught her the Bible, and God changed Maura’s life! Maura Valencia was baptized on Wednesday August 10 in the Fairfield sector.

Like Maura and Nancy, God had placed friendships in each of our lives to connect with and impact. What relationships has God put on your heart to help? 

We are so grateful to be part of a church that values building real and lasting relationships that seek to meet the needs of those around them. 

Until next time!

Sam and Tenea Manuel

East Bay Lead Ministers

Sam Manuel

Sam Manuel

Sam is a former outside linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers. Since retiring from the NFL, Sam has worked in the ministry serving communities in the Bay Area.

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