Treasure Hunt #4

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Contributed by Julie Atwood.

When Fran received church, and Sarah NHV, as two of their clues for this morning’s Treasure Hunt, the group of twelve Treasure Hunters all burst out laughing. “Maybe that means our team is meant to just hang out at the church and pray for the rest of y’all,” Sarah joked. But like all the other clues, church and NHV led the team called to the Bass Pro Store on a more active adventure.

Among Cheryl’s team of seven people, which included Pastor Cliff, Brandy, Carolyn, and Fran’s husband Derry as well as Fran and Sarah and Cheryl herself, five folks did stop off first at New Horizon Vineyard. As all but Cheryl and Carolyn pulled into the church’s parking lot—these two had taken a second car and headed for a gas station (another clue) instead—neighbor Billy burst from his house behind the church.

“Look, God’s sent us a treasure here at the church after all,” Sarah exclaimed when she noticed the chubby man, who sported a snowy beard and a cherry-colored shirt. “He fits one of Cliff’s clues—he’s the very image of Santa Claus!”

And as Billy’s wife Sue followed him out of the house, the group found she fit Carolyn’s clue of heart-related prayer need. “Would you pray for my mother?” she asked the team. “She’s just undergone heart surgery.” Tears glistened in Sue’s eyes as the Treasure Hunters offered her their prayers, assuring her she was their first treasure.

Meanwhile at the gas station which adjoined a restaurant (still another clue), Cheryl and Carolyn chatted with the clerks. “I have a prayer need,” Linda responded when asked. “My son Braden is suffering from an upper respiratory illness.” She broke into a smile and grateful thanks after the team members prayed for her family.

“If you have any praise reports, please leave us a message,” Cheryl told her while handing her an NHV business card. “We have seen some healings and have every reason to believe your son can be healed.”

As the two carloads of Treasure Hunters called to Bass Pro reconvened at the colorful sporting-goods store, they found inside a total of nine clues. “Look, there are two of my clues already,” Fran called out with excitement as she indicated a nearby couple. “The lady’s wearing a rosary—that has to count as a special necklace—and there’s a cross dangling from it.”

“My name is Lupe, and this is my husband Jose,” the woman told the team members during mutual introductions.

“Your names provide two more of my clues!” Fran showed them her paper of jotted information, pointing out the names Lupe and Joseph, which is Jose in Spanish. “You two must be our next treasures. Are there any ways we can pray for you?”

“Yes, you can pray for several of our addictions, including smoking,” Lupe replied. The group agreed, laying hands on both her and her husband, whom she mentioned was a faithful attender of AA.

Soon Brandy and Sarah found two more of Pastor Cliff’s clues, in the persons of Margaret and her daughter Maggie (another form of Margaret). Maggie [age 12] beamed at the group from beneath a Santa Hat (the pastor’s second clue). “Would you just offer us a prayer of blessing?” her mom asked. “We’ve recently had several prayers answered.”

As Brandy and Fran rounded the bottom of the stairs, they met a lady wearing the clue of a purple shirt. A ring turned into a pendant swung from her neck, again qualifying as Fran’s clue of a special necklace. “Will you pray for my career success?” the lady asked them. As Fran and Brandy spoke blessings over her, she glowed from their encouragement and repeatedly exclaimed, “You made my day!”

“Look, there’s Julie’s clue of a puppy.” Sarah pointed out a service dog. As the group approached the trainer of this adorable yellow lab, they soon learned the woman’s name was Kathy—still another name on their list. “I so appreciate your offer to pray for me,” Kathy told them. “But the folks I know who really need prayer are a family I’ve met here in the store. Their house has just burned down. Here, I’ll take you over to meet them.”

Soon Sarah and Pastor Cliff found themselves praying for the grandparents of the children who’d recently lost their home in a fire (I don’t think this was another clue). They also offered two Target gift cards to the grateful couple, who were keeping their grandchildren while the kids’ parents dealt with the recovery details of their home.

Cheryl found her next clue in Desiree, whose golden hair and moon-pale skin seemed to fit the words angelic looks. Since Desiree had her small child on her hip, she also matched Cheryl’s second clue of mother and child. “Please pray for my ability to parent my children well,” Desiree requested the group.

At last Cheryl met Danielle—the Bass Pro group’s final treasure for the morning. The mother of two children, this black woman (Carolyn’s clue) began their conversation by requesting prayer for her marriage. “I’m babysitting three children besides my own.” Danielle shook her head with weary eyes. “Need some money to do something for my kids for Christmas.”

“I’d like the opportunity to offer you a little something to help.” Cheryl asked her, “If you can wait a few minutes, I’ll be right back.” She hurried over to ask Pastor Cliff for one of the cards, then returned to Danielle. “We want to bless people this season with a little help,” she told the work-worn mom as she handed her the card with a smile.

Danielle flung grateful arms around the Treasure Hunter, then poured out to Cheryl the struggles she was facing concerning the poor health of her husband Andre. “He recently lost both his feet, and now he’s suffering from congestive heart failure.”

The group would later note this fit Carolyn’s clue of heart-related prayer need.

After Pastor Cliff and Sarah headed over to join the group, they all prayed for Andre as well as for Danielle herself. “Here’s the card for our church, along one for our Renovate conference that’s coming up,” Pastor Cliff told her. “Feel free to call us and leave a message if you need any support.”

“God has certainly not forgotten you,” Cheryl added warmly as they all offered Danielle more hugs.

The team might have laid hands on two more human treasures, but the bearded man with work boots and the one with a knee issue both said, “No, thanks. We’re doing fine.” Yet without their knowledge, they’d receive blessings anyway as the seven Treasure Hunters waved to them and moved on in silent intercession.

In the meantime, five more Treasure Hunters—Abby, Bonnye, Henry, Dustin, and Julie—had piled into Abby’s “church bus” to sail off for their called location . . . the harbor. As they passed a yoga center whose turquoise awning gleamed through the mid-morning lakeside mist—“No, that’s not a shirt or pants, so let’s not count it as a clue,” Henry dryly advised the zealous group—several team members spotted a young boy wearing a green shirt.

“Wow,” Julie marveled. “This time the clues I received are actually turning out to be real!” For as the group climbed out of the van and strolled over to the boy, they noticed he stood among a knot of family members round a pool that fed into a human-made river (two more clues).

And not only that, but scattered through his family group were several cuddly furballs of—

Puppies!” Julie exclaimed with wonder. For she’d jotted down that clue only as an afterthought. And here her wide eyes spotted three fuzzy canine babies. Not only Pomeranian Snickers, squirming in the green-shirted arms of young Manuel, but also tiny Hershey, the two-month-old Chihuahua snoozing in his mother’s palm . . . and Butterfinger, another Pomeranian, scampering round Manuel’s skate shoes (one of Abby’s clues).

“Isn’t that wild?” Bonnye would comment soon afterwards. “Their names all fit my clue of candy.”

After Manuel’s mom Elena introduced the rest of her family—two other guys were also named Manuel, and one of these wore Dustin’s clue of a dark blue shirt—she welcomed the Treasure Hunters’ prayers. “Not for myself, but for a good friend of mine,” she told them. “Her eight-year-old son has a tumor on his brain stem, and he’s not expected to live long.”

“And another friend of ours has a six-year-old dying of leukemia,” her daughter Maria added. “Plus, we also know of a three-year-old with cancer.”

“Are there any ways we can pray for you folks?” Abby asked after the team had spoken words of healing over the lives of all these little ones.

“Yes, you can pray for our three-year-old son,” Elena replied with a beaming smile. “Today is his birthday, and we just want you to bless him.”

As the team waved good-bye to their first radiant group of human treasures, several members realized that all the family’s prayer requests fit the clue of praying for children.

Crossing over to a lineup of rustic shops, the Treasure Hunters noticed several fans whirring on wooden posts. “Hey, they could count as your clue, Bonnye,” Abby said with a grin. “They’re sort of like windmills.”

“She’s just kidding,” Bonnye assured Julie, who asked if the group should count them as clues. But soon the team decided to count them after all, since Abby reminded them that since they generate power, fans do work in a way similar to windmills.

Then they spotted the windows of the restaurant. Swathed in a long lineup of merry Christmas paintings.

Snow! Another clue of mine,” Bonnye exclaimed as she pointed to the fat white flakes sprinkled across the glass.

Julie felt still more thrilled as she next spied the prancing white horse . . . not only one of her clues, but one of Pastor Cliff’s as well.

As the group rounded the restaurant’s corner to spy the glass front door, they saw a glimmering white star.

“C’mon, you guys, this is too much!” Abby beckoned to the group with a sparkling smile. “We have to go inside.”

“We’ll wait and pray for you out here,” Dustin and Henry assured the team’s three female members.

As Abby, Bonnye, and Julie slipped inside the restaurant, four blue-shirted employees at once strode over to the trio. They lined up to regard the Treasure Hunters with curious eyes, while their manager glanced up from his desk only briefly.

“Is there anyone here with stomach problems?” Abby decided to check out this clue as soon as she and Bonnye had exchanged introductions and explained their purpose for coming.

“Well, I’m pregnant,” Tanya announced.

“That’s as close as it gets,” Bonnye replied with a laugh, and the team extended hands of blessing to her preborn baby.

As they surveyed the group of employees for other prayer needs, Lori spoke up in a troubled tone. “I’m a new believer, and my family doesn’t understand about that. They were really abusive while I was growing up, and they told me I can’t come home this Christmas.” Her voice shook as tears welled in her eyes. “My mom’s bipolar and diabetic, and now she’s showing signs of Alzheimer’s. . . .”

The tears streamed down Lori’s face as the team enveloped her in prayers and hugs. “I need to forgive my family,” she confessed, and she offered her own prayers of forgiveness and for reconciliation.

Wiping tears from their own eyes as they headed back outside, several team members noted still more clues. “She forgave her family, and that fit my words about forgiveness,” Abby told the team.

“And did you see the necklace she was wearing?” Bonnye asked. “It was a cross—another one of my clues—made from shell casings. That could also count as Fran’s clue of a special necklace.”

“We really need to go back in and offer her one of those Target gift cards,” Abby said.

“Yeah, but what about those other three guys in there?” Bonnye looked concerned. “We only have one card left. How can we offer it right in front of them all to just one person?”

The team agreed to pray . . . then, moved by the Spirit’s prompting, about-faced and headed back into the restaurant.

And there stood Lori.

This time alone.

After showering the team with profuse thanks for the gift, she told them she attended a local megachurch but was looking for something more small and personal.

“Why don’t you check out our church, New Horizon Vineyard?” Abby asked as she also handed Lori one of the church cards, along with an invitation to the upcoming Renovate conference. “We’re small and personal, and we could really use another musician and someone to help with sound tech.”

“Hey, that sounds great.” Lori’s tear-puffed eyes now danced with excitement. “I’m a musician, and I also do sound tech!”

The Sunday morning following the Treasure Hunt, when Pastor Cliff called up both teams of Treasure Hunters to share with fellow church members their morning of miracle clues and multiple human treasures, Pastor Cliff observed with interest, “This time there were twelve of us . . . just like Jesus’ twelve disciples.”

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