In the summer of 2017, Pete Foster lost his wedding ring. In searching for it, he found the answer to a question he had been asking God for months. Here he tells us his story:
We had been living here in Pardubice, Czech Republic for three years and we had gathered around us a group of Christians to pray together, to worship together, and to explore if God was leading us towards a church plant. This had been a big sticking point from the beginning. My wife had always had a really clear call about returning to the Czech Republic (where she grew up) and planting churches, but I wasn’t so sure. As far as we had heard from God at that point last summer, we were just certain that we were meant to be there, but had heard nothing specific about starting or leading a church.
Jon Beardon arranged for Mike Betts to call us and help us think it through. He rang the day before we went to Croatia for our summer holiday, and he basically said, ‘You should be asking God if you shouldn’t be starting a church, because it sounds like you’re already doing it. Go to Croatia and spend some time sitting on a Croatian beach asking God for clarity.’
So, on the first morning of the holiday I was sitting on a Croatian beach – and I lost my wedding ring in the mud. I had spent 30 minutes playing in this vast stretch of special healing mud with my son, then had gone into the sea to wash the mud off. I was kneeling in the water, got all cleaned off, and suddenly realised there was no wedding ring on my finger. There was an immediate sense of nausea, it was horrible. My first thought was that it was in the water, so I shouted for my wife to come and help me look for it, but the water was all murky from the mud I’d just washed off. We spent the rest of the day snorkelling and trying to find the ring in the sea.
We went back the next day and spent the day like alligators in a lagoon, with the mud up to our eyes, feeling around, trying to find the ring that way. Basically it just felt like the holiday was a disaster. It wasn’t an expensive ring, but there was the sentimental value, and I’d worn it for almost 17 years. And in the back of my mind was Mike’s instruction: ‘Sit on some beach praying about whether or not you should transition your group to be a church plant.’
It was kind of a depressing time really, trying to really enjoy the holiday at the same time as something really painful was going on, and trying to work out ‘what is God saying in all this?’
So I spent some time praying, and I prayed a dangerous prayer along the lines of, ‘God, if you give me my ring back I’ll do anything.’ Then we started trying to work out logically how we were going to get this ring back. I had the idea of metal detectors. The owners of the accommodation we were staying in, found some Croatian National Metal Detectors Association and we managed to make contact with someone in the locality, but unfortunately they were away on an island and wouldn’t be able to get to where we were until after we had left. They agreed to come and have a look after we’d gone, though, and I went and made a little sketch map for them of the places where we thought it could be lost.
On the last evening of the holiday we were sitting watching the sun set and Michelle, who is a better prayer than me, prayed, ‘God, you know exactly where that ring is. If you want, you can give it back to us.’ Just then she noticed that she had five missed calls on her phone. It was the metal detecting crew. They had sent a message saying, ‘We’re at the beach, where are you?’
We were at a different beach, about 20 minutes away, so we quickly packed up all our stuff and raced off to the beach where I lost the ring. By the time we found the crew, the sun had already set, but there was still a bit of light there. So I said, ‘OK, well let’s look in this area, I think it could be here.’
That was still a pretty big area, and they were beeping around, finding nothing. I turned my back, with all that hope built up that we were actually going to find it, starting to die again. Then, after about two minutes of normal beeps, there was a fast beeping. They got this special probe tool which they stuck in the mud and they found a big clod of mud. They pulled it up, broke it in half, and there was my ring inside. So I just put it straight on my finger, with an almighty cry of unbelief and ‘Wow!’
Afterwards we got talking with them, and my wife asked what made them come a day early. They said they just had some feeling they were meant to be here. And my wife said ‘Well, I was just praying, “God, you know where that ring is, and if it’s your will you can give it to us”’. Croatia is a Catholic country and their response was ‘Oh, you prayed to St Anthony?’ and Michelle said ‘No, I prayed to Jesus,’ and they said ‘Oh, you went straight to the boss!’ It was a lovely moment of just connecting with them.
From that moment on, it was a bit of a Jonah moment for me, I think. From that despair, God got my attention and I decided we’re going to have to be more intentional about our group being a church plant. So now we are transitioning from being a community group to being an embryonic church with hopes and dreams to become a church.
As I have shared that story around RM, we have had prophetic words around Haggai 2:23 (“I will… make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you, declares the Lord of hosts.”), confirming that God has chosen us for this, and about the parable of the lost coin, saying that in the same way God gave us our ring back, he will add lost people to us. We have seen the firstfruits of this already, as one lady became a Christian earlier this year!
Please pray for us:
- We are now gathering 10-15 people each week. Praise God for this core, and ask him to give us his protection and be amongst us by his Holy Spirit.
- Last Sunday we began a new season of intentional investment in the church plant. Each week we will meet for either worship, prayer and teaching, prayer walks or socials.
- Pray for the lady who became a Christian before the summer, that we’d be able to knit her in and help her to grow.
- Pray for the other folk we know who are close to responding to following Jesus that they’d make a response in the right time.
 A ‘gospel plant’ in official RM terminology.