I would like to hear some viewpoints about the gift of prophecy among modern day Christians. Is this a spiritual gift that we should expect to see in our churches? How can we tell if it is a true word from God? The reason that I ask is becuase I have had a "prophetic" encounter before. Here's the story (bear with me please). I'm 22 years old and I grew up in a hostile home. My mother has suffered from manic depression and other problems and although she was a stay at home mom, she wasn't always stable for us. Neither of my parents graduated from high school nor did they ever take the time to complete a GED. My father at one time had a decent paying job and has always worked hard for his family of 6 but we have always struggled with paying bills on time. It especially became hard when he lost his decent paying job when I was 7 years old. We grew up in the Lutheran church during my early years but slipped away some time during my middle school years. My mother at one point decided to take me to a charismatic church but I remember feeling uncomfortable there so I eventually quit going by the time I was in high school. I should also mention that during my adolescent years I started to rebel and experiment with drugs and alcohol. Experimentation led to abuse which led to failure in school. Somehow, I stuck through high school though and managed to graduate with a mediocre GPA. I'm not sure how I managed to even graduate, at one point I had to go before a judge for truancy. During this time, I was etremely disrespectful to my parents, blaming them inside for all my problems. We would fight, they would fight, and inevitably the sheriifs department would end up at my house. My family knew nothing about my substance abuse, however, my older brother was also having substance abuse problems at the time. One Sunday during my middle school years I was at the charismatic church while they had a guest speaker. I remember that she was this powerful Black woman and I could sense at the time that she was annointed. During the end of her message she had an alter call then began "prophesying" over people in the church. I remember being terrified that she would come over to me...I couldn't have been older then 15 at the time. Well she did come to me and she told me something to the effect that I was like Ruth from the Bible or that I was going to be a Ruth...or something like that. Then she told me that I would walk on foreign land someday. I didn't understand the first word and never thought the second word could possibly come true as I grew up in a small town in the rural south and had never been past the Alabama state line. For the next 5 or so years I ignored that this prophecy had ever taken place but it still remained in the back of my mind. When I graduated from high school I wanted nothing more then to move out of my parents' house and that's exactly what I did. I had met this woman through working at a child care that her kids attended. She had recently gone through a divprce and was in rough shape. She hired me as her live in nanny and would watch her precious children while she locked herself away in her bedroom. At this time I also started to work at a bank while the kids were in school. When Lisa's kids were with their father, she and I would drink heavily, go out, or sometimes we would drink heavily and Lisa would get out the pot that had been prescribe to her father who had died of cancer. There were many times when I was living with Lisa that I probably could have gotten killed or killed someone. I would get trashed and then drive over to another friends house. While all of this was occuring I knew it was wrong. However, I think that I blamed my parents for everything that went wrong in my life. I longed for someone to turn to. THings eventually started to go sour with Lisa and we got into fights. Things were also going terrible with my job at the bank. I was making mistakes all over the place and one day one of the other tellers humiliated me in front of everyone calling me an idiot, telling me I was worthless, and also saying that I would never amount to anyone or go anywhere and that I would always be Lisa's nanny. I didn't say a word but the outspoken loan processor stood up for me and an altercation between the two arose. When all was said and done I was blamed for the whole thing. That was my last day at the bank. Once I got to Lisa's I sunk down to my knees. At that moment my whole life seemed hopeless. All the dreams that I had had of going off to college and becoming a teacher had diminished. I had never felt so hopeless in my life. I really and truly wanted to end it all there. I felt that I had failed with the life that God had given me I had put all my hope in temporal and even harmful things. I had made these things my gods and looked to them to sustain my life. I spent the next 10 minutes praying and repenting. I had been Baptized as an infant so I truly believe that the Holy Spirit yanked me back into the boat with Christ. I had been saved from drowning. I spent the next week of free time trying to decide how I could fix my life. Little did I know, but the Holy Spirit had hold of me and was leading me to all the right people. I went and spoke with the Lutheran pastor at my former church. I barely knew him because he had come after we left the church but I wanted to seek the advice of a figure that I had trusted when I was a little girl, a Lutheran Pastor. We talked and I can't really recall what he said that day because I was an emotional mess but this sixty-year old man who had dedicated his life as a Lutheran teacher then pastor encouraged me. After I left his office I found a computer and started to research where I would go to college. I looked at Christian colleges on the internet and found the Concordia College (at the time) of Ann Arbor, Michigan and I knew that this was where God was leading me. However, I had no idea how I would get there. I quickly applied online but was worried about my high school grades. Things happend quickly after this. It was the end of the summer of 2000 and I knew that it was probably too late to get in for Fall but I was determined to at least get to Michigan. I found out that a friend that I had in high school had moved to Michigan so I called them up and the family agreed to let me come stay with them for a few months. I went to my parents house and eagerly told them what I was going to do. I think that they thought I was crazy and was about to embark on yet another failure. I could also see the worry in their eyes. Two days later I packed up my little Dodge Neon and headed north and 3 a.m.. Like I said before, I had never seen anything beyond the Alabama state line so I was in for a thrill. The drive was both frightening and exciting. I had never had any experience driving through large cities and had no idea how to read a map or follow road signs. Somehow I managed to get to Indianapolis before I got lost. By the time I got past Indianapolis into the vast open fields of corn I was getting tired and growing more anxious by the second. Then I saw the most beautiful rainbow I had ever seen and remembered God’s promise to Noah. I felt like God was saying to me too that I would never have to return to my sinful past again. I arrived in a rainy Michigan late that same night. The next few months went by fast. I got a job as a waitress and after I received my acceptance letter from Concordia I was ready to make my first visit. After sitting through freeway traffic and getting lost I managed to show up late for my appointment but thankfully not too late. When I walked into the beautiful mansion there I knew this was where I would spend the next four years. They even had a markee at the entrance with my name on it to welcome me there. I sat down with the admissions counselor and everything sounded great until she told me how much tuition was. Tuition for one year was more money then my father made per year at his job. I left in disbelief and doubt but then it hit me, how could God bring me all this way for nothing? In the midst of my disbelief was a growing glimmer of hope that God would somehow provide. Indeed he did. I had to take some cans back just to get gas money to get back to the other side of the state. Two months later I arrived on a snowy morning to move into my dorm room at Concordia. I had a severe sinus infection that had only been made worse from my first ever flight on an airplane and I also didn’t have a voice. That same day I also met the man who proposed to me at the Eiffel Tower last August. I settled into my classes that week and had decided on studying to become a teacher with a Lutheran Teaching Diploma. A couple weeks after I arrived I was sitting in my quiet dorm room. All the friends that I had made had gone home to see their families for the weekend. I was feeling lonely and depressed and missed the family that I had taken for granted all those years. Then I remembered that beautiful Black woman who told me that I would be like Ruth. I had never understood the story, or how I would be like a woman whose husband had died and lived with her mother-in-law. So I opened my Bible and read the whole book. When I got to this verse I was astonished. “You left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. May the LORD repay you for what you have done, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” Ruth 2 11-12. I spent the next few months in an emotional state of astonishment and thanksgiving. I am in my senior year now and after my freshman year I spent the summer as a camp counselor at camp Lutherhaven in Indiana. After my sophomore year I took my first trip to “foreign soil.” I went to Moscow and St. Petersburg in Russian and then spent a month in Siberia doing mission work. This passed summer I went with a church group to England and we did homeless ministry and other mission type work there. My fiancé and I recently took a youth group to a retreat. There was a speaker there who spoke about how the world speaks lies to young people. She talked about how young people have to make the decision as to which path to take. She said that one of the best examples is of a woman from the old testament who made that decision and also of her sister in law who made the wrong one. Ruth decided to go where her God would be, but Orpah turned away and went back to her homeland filled with idols. In the lineage of Ruth we find David her descendent….in the lineage of Orpah we find Goliath. I have sense then struggled with how to understand something that many Lutherans and other Christians don’t usually speak much about-prophesy. With everything that has happened in my life how can I dismiss what that woman said to me? Thank you for taking the time to read this….I failed to proofread it b/c of the time and emotions it took to write it.