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Women of Reverence welcomes Ash Winter as a guest blogger.

Ash is a wife, mother of four sons, church planter, musician, award-winning baby photographer, author of

the ‘Love in South Africa’ Christian fiction series.

This isn’t the testimony of faithful prayer being answered. It isn’t the testimony of instant provision

either (sorry to disappoint). It is the testimony of how God took a faithless woman at the depth of

her darkest valley and gave her courage to do what she never thought she could, to become what

she’d never dreamed she could be.

I’d never imagined how precious this scripture would become to me:

If we are faithless, He remains faithful for He cannot disown Himself. 2 Tim 2:13, NIV

Not once in my life had I questioned God’s faithfulness towards me, until then. My husband, Grant

and I had immigrated to Swansea, Wales and we were a couple years into our start-with-nothing

church plant. Despite all of our years of preparation, the prayer, the prophetic words, the dream, we were on the brink of giving it all up. We’d poured out everything and there was nothing left.

We were broken and broke.

Going out to work wasn’t an option for me as we had young children and no support with childcare. Grant had a fairly stable job, but no opportunities to earn what we needed to change our situation. My days consisted of three one hour walks through the valley that separated our house from our boys’ school. This was more of a hike all the way down, up the other side, then again, times three per day; twice per day, with my three-year old and often in the rain (no exaggeration, this is Wales). Now, you may be thinking this would’ve been the perfect opportunity to pray my way out of this situation, but faithless people can’t pray.

I felt so deeply abandoned by God that I didn’t have the words.

One thing I did though, I filled myself with Godly teaching like a starving person would food, hours of it, every day as I walked that valley, as I cleaned my home. Desperately feeding myself the Word of God, sustained me and I believe, kept me from sliding into a deep depression.

Things started to change for us financially when I treated myself to a second-hand pair of jeans on

EBay. (God works in mysterious ways!) They arrived and I was excited to try them on, only to

discover they were the wrong size! (I’d also lost a lot of weight). I was so upset that I’d wasted this

money (I think it was around £7), that I decided to list those jeans back on EBay and get my money back. This time when they sold, to my surprise, I made a profit. And then I thought to myself, I’m going to do that again. Soon I was buying up all the branded jeans from car boot sales and making a profit, not much, but enough to relight hope. Then I discovered a sweet niche-market selling vintage Sindy doll items. I educated myself on what was rare and was soon selling to international collectors. I became a Top-Rated Powerseller and was able to start buying what our family so needed (a pair of decent walking boots for me for starters - woohoo!).

Although making money on EBay lifted my head somewhat, it was intensive work and very lonely,

especially for someone teetering on the edge of depression. I was a keen photographer and so

decided to try my hand at newborn photography. I’d saved the large majority of my Ebay profits and

had more than enough to invest in the equipment I needed. Looking back, only God could’ve given me the courage at this point in my life to go up to people I hardly knew and offer my humble

services. But I trained myself online and worked hard and God blessed the faithful work of my hands and my business grew in leaps and bounds.

We moved to a better house so that I could have my own studio and within a few years I was so busy that Grant quit his job to do my admin and client viewings! We were fully self-employed and earning well enough that not only did we reach our goal of going off government benefits, we had to pay them back too – isn’t that awesome? And then the impossible was realised – we qualified for a mortgage and bought our own home in the area we loved.

Now, there are two parts to this miracle. Remember I said we were broke and broken? Well, God

didn’t just sort out the broke part, He fixed both. As we were Googling ‘Houses in South Africa’, a

New Frontiers’ church planting couple arrived in Swansea and after much struggle (from Grant, not

me – I was desperate for friendship) we decided to lay down our dream, and serve Swansea in the best way we could at the time – by joining and supporting what they were doing. (The church is growing and thriving by God’s grace, but this is a story for another day!)

So firstly, if you are reading this today thinking that it is not possible for you, I want you to know that it is. I felt this way too. And as much as it’s wonderful to receive instant emergency provision from God and there are those incredible stories of miraculous gifts, I believe that this is His preferred way - He blesses the faithful work of our hands. Using the gifts and talents He’s already given us glorifies God and satisfies our souls more than any instant handout could.

And secondly, if you are doubting God’s faithfulness to you, please take it from someone who’s been there too, our God is faithful to the end, even when we are faithless, He is able to do abundantly more than we can ever hope or imagine.

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