Living Life in West Long Beach
by Carol Sato
(This article was written on March 7, 2020, a few days before our daily lives changed as a result of COVID-19. Carol, known as “Mom” at Fountain of Life, still goes for walks, but maintains an appropriate social distance.)
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another. John 15:13-18 (ESV)
Silverado Park is my track. It’s my outdoor gym. It’s my space to exercise and to be enriched by the sunshine, beautiful flowers, interesting plants, the clouds, and the fresh air of the morning. In God’s sovereignty, it’s also my training ground and mission field.
Since 2002, this training ground has provided opportunities to experience God’s continued faithfulness and steadfast love. As I have walked, prayed, enjoyed the squirrels and my surroundings, God has helped me to connect with people as I have said, “hello,” interacted with folks, and prayed for some who shared specific needs or ailments. I refer to these steps of faith as my God-given “walking ministry.”
Recognizing the fruitfulness of experiencing God in the context of my local park, I began to see my daily walks as a mission field where God’s continued faithfulness and steadfast love are expressed to others through me.
Last year in mid-December, while walking by the tennis courts, I saw Pastor John drive by. As we finished greeting one another with smiles and waves, I realized that a young woman, whom I’ll call Maria, was walking at my pace. I have seen her walking around the park many times. I had never spoken to her but, on that day, it seemed like God wanted Maria to experience his love and care.
“Hi, I’m Carol. I’ve seen you many times. What is your name?” We began to talk and she felt comfortable sharing her story. Maria was 7 years old when she experienced a stroke. This resulted in a need to relearn everything that she had learned up to that point in her life.
She expressed her desire to learn how to read. It was a priority for her because she wanted to read with her own young child. I promised that I would ask my friends to see if there was a way that we can help her achieve her goal.
God, the giver of good gifts, loves Maria and heard her heart’s cry. Even before her need became a prayer request, he prepared, called, and provided a retired teacher with expertise in helping adults to read. Carolyn, Keva Green’s mother, is God’s good gift of grace to Maria and her family.
With Maria’s parent’s approval, Carolyn began working with Maria in February. For Carolyn who gives as well as receives and for Maria who receives, it has been an awesome, joyful experience. [They hope to resume their meetings when they are able.] God’s love is being poured out through Carolyn to Maria and her family. We are praying that they will come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
Under the Lord’s authority and jurisdiction, my training ground and mission field take on greater meaning as I see the Lord of the harvest working to make himself known at Silverado Park.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)