I turned on the car radio just in time to hear something really weird.

“I found Jesus in a bowl of soup,” a man was saying. The guy sounded normal enough despite his bizarre claim.

The radio was tuned to a talk show on a Christian station, and I had missed the beginning of the conversation. But from what I understood, the man had fallen on hard times, and a Christian organization gave him a helping hand. I have to assume that the help included meals, at least one of which had been a bowl of soup.

I’ve got to believe the man meant that he came to know God through the organization’s loving care, not by seeing the name of Jesus spelled out in alphabet noodles that were floating around in his soup.

I wish I knew for sure that the help came from The Salvation Army. Based on what I know of the Army’s many programs to help people get back on their feet, it could well have been. But the radio host had already moved on to the next part of the show, and the man’s voice—along with the rest of his story—disappeared from the airwaves.

Peace and Quiet
What I heard got me thinking about other unusual salvation stories I’ve heard. My own, for instance. My story doesn’t contain a single spoonful of soup anywhere in it, but I think it’s pretty unusual.

I was 29 years old at the time. While I was attending a town board meeting, a pastor stood up and began to comment in favour of an agenda item I was especially interested in. Several other people also spoke, but the one I remembered was that pastor.

A few months later, I saw a newspaper advertisement inviting area children to a vacation Bible school. I wasn’t interested at first, but then I noticed the name of the pastor—the same one I’d met at the meeting.

When I called for more information, I learned that a church bus would pick up my kids a little before 9 a.m. and bring them home at noon for two weeks, Monday through Friday.

Wow, I thought. Free babysitting!

I had not been raised in church and had zero interest in it for myself. But I loved the idea of peace and quiet every morning for a couple of weeks.

Forgiveness, Love and Purpose
What I didn’t expect was that my kids would absolutely love it! They came back home every day full of smiles, toting handmade crafts, reciting Bible verses and singing cute little songs about Bible characters I’d never even heard of.

Joyce and her bowl of soupWhat's in a Name?: Joyce Starr Macias is startled by a soupy mystery
I also didn’t expect that they’d want to start going to Sunday school every week after that. But they did. And guess what? They took it for granted that I’d drive them there! I did, of course, and before long found myself sitting in an adult class, becoming acquainted with the bestseller that I’d never read—the Bible.

Between Sunday school lessons, reading the Bible and talking to the pastor, it wasn’t long before Jesus became real to me. It’s still exciting to think back to that day. Years later, I’m still in awe of God’s unlimited power to reach out to all kinds of people, everywhere, whatever situation they’re in and however they’re living.

I’m glad He doesn’t tell us to fix ourselves up before we come to Him. I had tried that, and I knew it didn’t work. But God clearly tells us in John 3:16 and many other places in the Bible that Jesus can truly change our lives.

The invitation given by Jesus in Matthew 11:28 says, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

That appealed to me and applied to me. I was weary of trying to improve on my own and burdened with a weight of problems that seemed to have no answer. But God in His mercy touched my life. I’ve never been the same—and I don’t want to be!

Like the man on the radio, I needed the Lord in my life. And people who would lovingly share their lives and their faith with me. My material needs were different than his, but my spiritual needs were exactly the same—forgiveness, love and purpose.

I found all of that and more through a pastor and a church full of people who wrapped their arms of love around me and served me their version of a bowl of Jesus soup.

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