To mark the 25th anniversary of Faith & Friends, we asked past editors, current writers and our readers to tell us what articles have impacted them or changed how they think about life and faith.

For this, the last instalment in the series, our article was suggested by current Faith & Friends editor Ken Ramstead:

I have always been a fan of longtime contributor Diane Stark’s writing. Over the years, I have watched and read as her family grew in years and in faith.

While I have enjoyed all of her articles, “Lost and Found” (January 2010) still ranks as my favourite. To see how Diane’s writings, misplaced on a memory stick, changed a young woman’s life for the better and saved her from a life of addiction and maybe even death, made me not a little envious.

You see, I think every editor hopes that his or her words will make a difference to someone, a Christian editor all the more so. We toil for the most part in seclusion and very rarely is there any outward recognition that our efforts have made a difference. Diane‘s article was a vindication, an encouragement and, yes, a goad to me to work all the harder at what I do on the magazine, to work as if someone‘s very life was at stake because maybe, somewhere, someday, it will be. 

“Eric, we have a problem,” I told my sleeping husband as I not-so-gently poked him in the back.

He sat up quickly and looked around. “What’s wrong?” he said with a panicked is-the-house-on-fire look.

“I can’t find my thumb drive.”

He rubbed his eyes. “Your what?”

“My thumb drive. That little electronic memory stick I use to hold my stories after I write them.”

“Oh, that thing.” He rolled over and pulled the blanket up over his head. “That was just your backup. You still have them on your computer hard drive. We’ll look for it in the morning.”

I yanked the blanket back down. “No, Honey,” I said through gritted teeth, “I deleted them from the computer when I got the stick. If I don’t find it, I’ve lost every story and article I’ve ever written!”

Eric, to his credit, jumped out of bed and hugged me. “We’ll find it. When was the last time you saw it?”

“This afternoon. I took it to the print shop to make copies of a story. I had it when I left there.”

“Where else did you go?”

“The post office, the pharmacy….”

“Did you have it when you got home?”

I shrugged helplessly.

Lost Hope

For the next two hours, Eric and I ransacked our house. I dumped out the contents of my purse and the diaper bag, hoping I’d tossed it in without realizing it. As I sorted through spare change and crayons, I muttered a prayer that I’d find the missing drive. I searched through the clothes I’d worn that day and felt the pockets, then I located my infant son’s clothes and searched his pockets as well.

Eric went outside to look in the car. When he returned, my hopes rose but he shook his head.

“I dug around under the seats,” he reported. “I found a pair of dirty socks, a gum wrapper and a couple of fries, but no stick. I’m sorry.”

I sighed. “I guess it wouldn’t be very good parenting to wake the kids up and ask them if they’ve seen it.”

“No,” he replied, straight-faced, “but first thing tomorrow, we’re going to call the places you went and see if someone turned it in.”

We went to bed, but I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t stop thinking about my lost thumb drive—and all of those missing stories. Again, I prayed that God would help me find it.

In the morning, I called the print shop, the post office and the pharmacy, but no one had seen a little pink memory stick. I was heartbroken.

For the next month, I prayed that somehow it would turn up. My children prayed often for “Mommy’s really important pink thing.” But as the weeks went by, I lost hope. My stories appeared to be gone.

No Accident

Then one day, a manila envelope came in the mail. It was addressed to me but had no return address. I opened it and instantly felt tears in my eyes.

Inside was my thumb drive and a single piece of lined paper. It was a note from a 20-year-old named Lisa.

“You don’t know me,” she explained, “but I found this thumb drive in the parking lot at the pharmacy about a month ago.” She’d planned to sell it to get money for drugs—“my motives weren’t good then”—but her curiosity got the best of her. She popped the memory stick into a computer and began to read my stories.

She read about how much God loves her and how it’s never, ever too late to turn back to Him. The story that really touched her was one I’d written about a rough patch in my own life. “It made me realize I needed to change,” she went on.

After reading it, she called her parents and asked them if she could come home. She attended church that Sunday for the first time in many years and even sought help for her addiction.

“I know now that God loves me, despite the mistakes I’ve made,” she concluded. “Thank you for helping me see that. I know this whole thing was an accident, but I truly can’t thank you enough.”

But I knew it was no accident. The Lord had engineered the whole thing. This girl would probably never have read the magazines my stories appear in, so God had to take a different approach.

I bowed my head and thanked Him for answering my prayers and, even more importantly, for using my stories to help someone else. And I was reminded yet again that, with God, all things are possible.

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