A Divine Appointment on a Hawaiian Cliff
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When Pastor Bryan Ashpole, his wife Shirley, and their daughter, Brooke, took a “stay-cation” to the Hawaiian island of Kauai — a puddle jump away from their home in Honolulu — they were going to relax and simply enjoy the beauty of the tropical island.
Little did they know that God had prepared a divine appointment for them and a young couple.
On Dec. 1, the Ashpoles were returning from a walk along a rugged, coastal trail on Kauai that showcased the islands stunning views. It was coming toward the end of the day, darkness was starting to close in, and the trio wanted to make it back before nightfall.
“We were heading back to the car and noticed a young man standing at the edge of a cliff, talking on his phone, and he seemed quite agitated,” Shirley recalls.
Bryan agrees. “The way he was talking and his animation, I thought he was on some kind of business call that had gone wrong.”
The Ashpoles decided to give the young man as much privacy as the trail would allow, when suddenly the young man called out to them, hurried over, and directed an odd question to Bryan and Shirley.
“How long have you been married?”
Bryan, pastor of Honolulu Assembly of God, and Shirley, the district’s Women’s Ministries director, have been married nearly 39 years — and it was immediately evident that this was God opening a door.
“We told him we were getting ready to celebrate our 39th anniversary,” Shirley says. “And then the young man said, ‘You know communication is important in a relationship, right?’ and holds out his cell phone.”
The Ashpoles realized that the young man wanted to make sure the person on the other end of the call heard their response.
Bryan answered by agreeing that communication is very important, and then added: “But the bottom line to having a marriage that lasts is having Jesus Christ as the foundation of your marriage.”
The Ashpoles shared with the young man about the importance of placing Jesus first and relying upon Christ’s guidance for making life choices.
“As we talked, he started bringing up Scriptures that had nothing to do with his need for Christ,” Shirley says. “Suddenly my mind flashed to Jesus at the well with the Samaritan woman who tried to bring up religious arguments, but He cut through to the real issue. I felt like the Holy Spirit was wanting me to challenge this young man.”
As the conversation continued, a young woman approached the group — it was the young man’s girlfriend who he had been talking to on the phone. After quick introductions, the conversation continued — Bryan and Brooke with the young woman and Shirley with the young man.
Shirley says that whatever challenge the young man brought up, the Holy Spirit gave her the exact verse to counter his argument and direct the conversation back to the young man’s need of placing Christ first in his life.
Finally the young man shared the darkness that haunted his soul. He told how he was the only one left alive in his family — all his family members were dead and not one was in heaven.
“I told him that it was not too late for him, as long as he had breath,” Shirley says. “And right now, he had the opportunity to not let the enemy get his whole family by giving his life to Christ.”
At that point, the Ashpoles led in a prayer of surrender and commitment to Christ, with everyone joining hands in a circle. When they finished praying, the young man was wiping tears from his eyes, and expressed, “Thank you so much. I needed this.”
The Holy Spirit then inspired Shirley to pray specifically with the young woman about her commitment to Christ, how special she was, how God treasured and loved her, and how He had a future for her. She, too, was shedding tears as that prayer concluded.
“After the prayer, I asked the young woman if Jesus is her Savior,” Shirley says. “She said, ‘Yes.’”
What began as a family hurrying to make it back to their car, concluded with an unexpected 20-minute divine appointment with a couple who the Holy Spirit wanted to clearly communicate God’s love to.
Bryan says only a few weeks prior to this encounter he had preached on divine appointments and how those appointments — which are not always convenient — just require people to be available and listening to the Holy Spirit.
“Divine appointments can happen to believers, no matter their age, anytime, anywhere,” Shirley says. “What’s significant about divine appointments is not just what God is doing for others through these appointments, but what He’s doing in and through you.”