Testimony from: Pastor Scott Manly- Belgreen SDA Church

Here is the testimony of our acquiring the Belding High School Media Center for our Science and Faith: Real Answers seminar that started February 1st.
First off, as I prepared for this 10-night series, I certainly had my shares of frustrations from the enemy trying to prevent me from bringing this together.  My computer broke and was in the shop for 10 weeks when I needed it to write the sermons, but praise God, I got a brand new computer for FREE out of that, and God blessed me to complete the sermons in time (though it came down to the wire).
Then, the Sabbath before it started, I struggled under a very dark cloud as I considered how unworthy I am to be a child and of God.  I decided I would not give into the desire to just curl up on the bed and hide, but wrestled with God in prayer, seeking to lay hold of promises in His Word.  Later that morning, as we drove to one of my churches, I was deep in thought and prayer, seeking to "encourage myself in the Lord", when I thought about similar times in the past when God drew near and blessed me to see a rare sighting of an owl (God seems to have reserved owls for times when I need it most).  I decided I would trust God regardless, but thought how encouraging such a sighting would be.  Just then, I saw what looked like a hawk in an overhanging tree.  As we passed under, I saw it was rather, a Barred Owl!!  I convinced Amy to go back to look for it, and when we passed by again, no owl.  When we returned once again to head on to church, the owl was not above us, but now off to the side, just 20 feet off the road perched picturesquely on a dead limb.  Amy rolled down her window and I got 9 shots of it before we moved on.  I was now in tears.  The Lord spoke to me the next morning that He was able to encourage me with the owl because I had first agonized with Him in prayer, rather than giving up in self-pity.  I saw Jeremiah 29:13 in a new light, "And ye shall seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart."  When we are discouraged and desponding, DON'T give into self-pity, waiting for and wanting God to draw near to encourage without seeking Him with all your energies.
Then, just 4 days before the series, as I was driving around preparing for it, I casually asked the Lord (embedded amidst some much more serious requests) if He would grant me a life-list bird soon (a new species to my records that I had yet to see).  That afternoon, as I was preparing one of my lectures, I got a call from an author/friend in a town just 15 miles from us in Lowell asking me if I wanted to see a Long-eared Owl (an owl species I have tried in vain to find and see).  After he gave me directions, I took off looking for it and he eventually came out to help me find the bird.  I gave Only later did I make the connection between my prayer earlier that day and the owl.  When I thanked him for being an answer to prayer, he commented (and he is not a religious sort of man), "You know Scott, it is interesting because the moment I saw the bird, I had a strong impulse that I should call you, and that was the first thing I did when I got home."   That floored me!!  It has been over a year since we talked on the phone (only once) and we don't really interact that much save a birding listserve we are both on.
That was about as encouraging and fascinating as the sign Gary (my head elder) and I found on the wall of the Belding Highschool Media Center when we went to check it out as a possible venue for the meetings (see attachment).  We had looked at a number of venues and prayerfully checked out this last one for the day.  We went in and looked around, trying to figure out if it was going to be big enough, or too big, or configured in a good layout for this seminar.  As we looked around in silence for a few minutes, I noticed something on the wall I couldn't believe.  I told Gary, "Uh, Gary, this place is ours."  "What do you mean Pastor?"  "It has my name on it."  "Pastor, what are you talking about?"  "Look at the writing on the wall."  "Pastor, I don't understand."  "Look at the sign on the wall Gary."  He looked up and saw what I did -- my last name in 3-foot, paper-mache letters M-A-N-L-Y.  we stood there in utter disbelief and curiosity. I Found out later, as I was paying for the use of the facility (there again was a blessing as I was quoted $650 for the facility, and the final bill came to only $400) that the letters were from a project a few students did a couple years earlier in which they took the first letter of their last names and made the letters.  Then they put them on the wall together.  We took it as a sign that that was the place!!  And the place was perfect.  Who would imagine we could do a Creation Seminar in a public high school library?!!  It helped in the advertizing, and the media center calendar was flexible enough to accommodate us when we had to reschedule a couple nights due to the winter weather or my flu (which only lasted 3 days)  God is SO GOOD!!
And the next day, as another elder and I went out to visit some of the attendees (and just prior to me driving to Lansing to be with the family all night of a member who suffered a massive stroke that morning and who we buried the next week), I was deep in prayer when we passed by another Barred Owl just a foot and a half off the road eating a kill.  I got out of the car with my camera and got some sweet shots.
A link to a personal site of mine where some of the owl pictures are posted is just below: