“I don’t know exactly what I want to do,” Tricia said to her friend and prayer partner, Susan. “I’ve been just a mom and housewife, but now that the kids are out of the house, I feel I’m supposed to run a business that will honor the Lord and reach out into our community.”
“Let’s pray about it,” Susan said. “God will show you what to do.” Tricia had been reading books on following your dreams. “Be specific in setting your goals,” one book advised. Believing the Lord had planted this burning desire in her heart, she fervently prayed that night for clarity. “Lord, would You please clearly direct me to the business You want me to be involved in?”
Answer to prayer
The next morning Susan called her, excitement in her voice. “Tricia, you won’t believe this, but this morning a friend from church called me needing help. Her parents are in a health crisis, and she must leave the state immediately to care for them. She’s been running a Christian thrift store and needs someone to sell everything and close it down . . . or else take over the business. I think this may be the answer to our prayer!”
After praying for wisdom, they toured the shop. A quaint, older building close to downtown Bend, Oregon, the thrift store had been remodeled to house donated clothing and household goods. Susan offered to help Tricia, and together they committed to take over the business.
First, they prayed for a focus for their ministry. They felt led to dedicate the store to the support of the local Pregnancy Resource Center. All baby clothes and toys would be donated directly to the center, along with a portion of their profits. A room was set aside specifically for reasonably priced maternity clothing, and a donation jar on the counter encouraged patrons to give additional contributions.
And, continuing a tradition of the store, all donated Bibles were placed in a basket by the front door to be given away, free. As Susan and Tricia developed a working relationship with other thrift stores in the area, they began swapping larger items for baby clothes, toys, maternity wear, and Bibles.
“It’s a shame to have rooms sitting empty,” Tricia prayed. “How else can we use the building for You, Lord?”
More answers came. A pastor’s wife offered to teach an early morning Bible study, and a prayer group started meeting in the evening.
A display was created to feature craft items produced by women who had been rescued from the slave trade in a third world country. All revenue went directly to the ministry providing their support.
When a local prison ministry shared a need for recently released women to have appropriate clothing for job interviews, Tricia created gift certificates for them. The women could shop for two blouses, two pairs of slacks, a dress, shoes, and a purse, all at no charge. Then they were encouraged to give back by volunteering at the thrift shop for work experience and to help develop a job résumé.
A variety of people frequented the thrift shop. Some were homeless or had limited income. Tricia developed a list of local community resources and provided it as a handout on the counter. A sign invited customers to write out prayer requests, and a Scripture card was prayerfully tucked in every bag going out the door.
Every morning Tricia began her day with a simple prayer: “Lord, bring those You intend to the store and guide all conversation to express Your love and grace. Please bless each one. Thank You for letting me see the amazing ways You work in so many lives!”
Spreading the Word
After three months, family needs forced Susan to leave the business, but Tricia continued on with her dream. Each new day brought unique experiences.
One quiet afternoon, the door cracked open. A woman’s wavering voice said, “I’ve lost my Bible.”
“Please come in!” Tricia called out. “You are welcome to take a Bible from the basket. There’s no charge.”
The woman wouldn’t come in, but a gnarled hand reached out to snatch up a Bible, and then quickly closed the door. Tricia was pleased to see word had gotten out that Bibles were free here.
One day something inexplicable happened, confirming that God heard Tricia’s prayers and had His hand on this business in a special way.
A young couple strolled into the shop. As he passed the basket of Bibles, the young man stopped and scooped one off the top.
“Hey, look at this. A Bible just like the one Grandpa had,” he said. Crossing the room, he laid it on the counter. “I’ll buy this, and we’ll shop some more,” he said.
“Oh, no,” Tricia said. “You don’t need to pay for it. All the Bibles are free.”
“Nope. Give you five dollars for it,” the man said over his shoulder as they wandered into the next room.
Tricia picked up the old Bible and opened it. It had a lot of underlining and notes scribbled in the margins. In the front was a personal note addressed to “Jim,” with a scripture, and signed by the previous owner. Hmm . . . perhaps the young man wouldn’t want one so well used, Tricia said to herself.
Soon the couple returned and piled some household items and clothing on the counter. Still holding the open Bible, Tricia said, “I don’t know if you really want this Bible because it has a lot of writing in it. But it certainly has a lovely inscription.” And she began to read it aloud to them.
As she finished and looked up, she was astonished to see tears rolling down the young man’s face. “Where did you get this Bible?” he asked. “This is my grandfather’s Bible. Jim was my father.”
He gently reached out to take the Bible from her hand and stared at his grandfather’s writing. “But . . . they didn’t live anywhere near here.”
Tricia could only shrug. “Things are just donated. We rarely know where they come from.” With her eyes glistening, she whispered, “Only God could have put your grandfather’s Bible into your hands.”
He nodded. Clutching the Bible to his chest, the young man shared that they lived in a community over a hundred miles away in eastern Oregon. They were just passing through the area when they spotted the thrift store and, on impulse, decided to stop.
After saying goodbye, the young couple left the store and put their purchases in the trunk of their car. As the young man started to open the door for his wife, he suddenly touched her arm and pointed at the signboard standing beside the front door of the shop.
What drew his attention? The name of Tricia’s business: Once Lost Now Found Resale Shop.
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