All my life I have wanted to know God and belong to His people. I’ve spent a long time in Christianity trying to know God and “make church work.” But it never felt right to how I felt things should be. By the time I was about 25 or 26 (2001-2002-ish) I had spent many years trying to make it work; doing everything I could to conform to what I was being told, in the hope that things with God would be better. It wasn’t that I wasn’t trying to make it work, I did try very hard. Yet, it just did not work and when I would talk to others about it I was encouraged to accept things as they are.
Despite this, there were many times where I would still ponder about the division in church, and how things did not marry up to what was in my heart. I would wonder about what a church that had things right would be like. I began to think, “surely there is someone, - a people somewhere in the world who’ve got it right”. I prayed, “Lord, if there IS a people in the world who’ve got it right I want to know about it, please tell me”. Soon, I began to think, “I wonder where in the world they would be?” So, I began to think of all the countries in the world. For some reason I picked the USA – because that is the world’s greatest superpower of our time, I suppose (I don’t quite understand my reasoning at this). Then I began to think of all the states in the USA. I didn’t know them all, but I knew many of them. For some reason I picked the state of North Carolina.. I recall thinking “Well, are you sure it’s North, and not South Carolina?” I knew there is a North Carolina and a South Carolina, but I was sure North Carolina was right. I just felt sure about that.
Then I realised, “Wow, I’ve got a country and a state, surely I can’t get a locality?” I recall deciding not to be discouraged and see where this line of thinking would literally take me. At this point I didn’t really think I would get a locality, but I still prayed about it; for an actual locality. The next thing that came in my mind was, “Graham”. When I heard that I was thinking well that’s a person’s name, and the only Graham I knew was my uncle in Australia, so I dismissed this, yet still wrote it down. (At this point I was writing things down.) The next thing that came in my mind was a word of some description with the word parts “swep” and “ville” in it. I thought “Oh, that doesn’t really sound like a location” yet tried to put the word together, and what I put together I had the feeling was right but in my flesh I doubted it and I kind of began to think instead, of “Sweep” (because that’s a word I knew) and “ville”, like “Sweepsville” or something. But that didn’t seem right. So, I kind of went back to the word with “swep” and “ville” in it, which I’d kind of had as “Swep/s – on –ville!” I was in doubt though, because it just didn’t seem like a place name to me. Still, I wrote these down also.
Well, next, I still felt a little in doubt and discouraged and I prayed, “Lord, please be patient, please give me another place name.” The next place name the Lord gave me was “Burlington”. At this point I thought, “Oh, I know they have “Burlington” place names in America, like in Alabama, or Georgia, so I felt satisfied with that. Still, I didn’t know if there was one in a North Carolina but I would have been willing to bet there was! So, I thought okay, “Burlington, North Carolina, I wonder if there is a people there who have got things right about God.” So, I decided to mark that place name in my heart and mind.
Then I prayed, “Lord, if I still don’t have things going good with you in 5 years time, please remind of this place and I will go there” (and see what I can find). Then 4 or 5 years later, the Lord showed me His people in Graham, (the FIRST place name) North Carolina who have it right about God! There’s a very good chance that if it wasn’t for the internet, I may very well have taken leave of work, gotten on a plane and just visited “Burlington, North Carolina”. Then I might have discovered there was a place name called “Graham” and “Swepsonville” and then found God’s people!