By Mark Ellis
Many Christian parents have prayed for their children to meet and marry another Christian – preferably a faith-filled, sold-out follower of Jesus.
But when noted author and preacher Francis Chan was impressed by a young man involved with his ministry, he lifted up a bold, audacious matchmaking prayer and God answered in a way that confounded Francis himself.
“Earlier this year in February I prayed and I asked God for something that was just ridiculous,” Francis Chan told a group at the Finishing the Task conference held at Saddleback Church on December 8th.
Francis had begun to notice a young man involved with his ministries named Justin Clark and became impressed by the insights gained in the younger man’s devotional life. “I would come home and say, ‘Honey, this guy, the way he talks about the Word and the way he talks about his prayer life, I’ve never met anyone like him.’”
“You have a little crush going here,” his wife Lisa said, lightheartedly.
“I do, I love this guy,” he replied.
A short time later during his quiet time with the Lord, Francis took his interest in Justin to another level. “Lord,” he prayed, “you answer everything and you’re so good to me and I’m just going to ask, can you make him my son-in-law?
“He doesn’t even know my daughter, but make him fall in love with my daughter and make my daughter fall in love with him.”
After he lifted up the prayer in February, weeks and months went by, nothing happened, and Francis began to forget about the prayer.
Five months later, Francis woke up and said to the Lord, “God, I’m so used to you answering things and I feel distant from you. I’ve never prayed this before but I’m sorry, I feel insecure this morning.
“I feel like a neglected housewife,” he continued. “I know you love me and I know it’s not about feelings but I’m just going to ask, can you show me some love this morning?”
An hour later Justin approached him and said, “Can I ask your daughter out?”
“What??? Yes, yes…do you have enough money? Please, please, please…”
Justin and Rachel began dating in July and several months later, he proposed to her on a bluff overlooking the ocean in San Francisco. “He took me on a small hike and told me that he loved me for the very first time,” Rachel noted on the couple’s wedding blog.
As they continued walking, she noticed rose petals on the forest floor, but she wasn’t sure if they were for someone else. “We kept following the petals and Justin led me to believe they were someone else’s, but eventually I heard music and realized it was one of my favorite songs.”
The trail opened up to a clearing on the bluff, with a spectacular view of the ocean as a backdrop. Justin got down on one knee and asked Rachel to marry him.
She said, “Duh…yes!”
Then Francis and the rest of their family emerged from hiding places to surprise her.
Nearby, Justin had placed a few of Rachel’s favorite things, including Chinese food, and a live dwarf rabbit he rented. “Needless to say, he put a ring on it!” Rachel exclaimed.
Rachel and Justin’s wedding took place December 3rd in Redwood City, California.
“When I walked my daughter up the aisle I was bawling,” Francis recounted. “I haven’t cried that much in years.”
“When we got to the altar I was ready to hand her off and we hugged up there, just holding each other for probably a minute. It was so uncomfortable and everybody was thinking, Is he going to let go or is she going to let go?”
As they held each other, Francis thought, God you’re so great. I remember how she rebelled against you and now you brought her back. I remember her as a kid jumping in my lap.
I remember all of this and now I get to pick who she marries and you answer like that?
The last few months have been a sweet season with God, Francis said. “Sometimes I don’t get it. I feel overwhelmed. I feel like an only child and think there’s no way you (God) listen to everyone like this…”
“I love you I love you I love you. I adore you I adore you,” Francis gushed, his heart overflowing with gratitude for the remarkable way God answered his ‘ridiculous’ prayer.