The evidence is everywhere

Fingerprints signify presence and purpose. They are a unique, distinctive pattern that represents unambiguous evidence of a specific person’s presence – a mark of identity. So, what about God’s ‘fingerprints’? Is there evidence of his 'touch' in the midst of our commonplace lives? If he is living up to his name of Emmanuel, which means 'God with us', should we not expect him to touch our lives? In the clamour of everyday life we so easily lose the ability to 'see' that which is happening all around us – we need to 'come to our senses'! This site invites readers to share their own evidence of God's fingerprints discovered on the journey of life.

The basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is.
Romans 1:20, The Message

The book

In his book ‘God’s Fingerprints: The Evidence is Everywhere’ John Samways shares a collection of short stories from his own spiritual journey. Immediate and engaging, each story is an example of how he has discovered the ‘fingerprints’ of God in the living of life, invariably in totally unexpected ways.

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Logo default@2x f4d05f01bd7877ce9b924cb7baed5327a753152309e2ccaf4d734942bd684d84 God’s Fingerprints

The only way we know anything is by ‘touching’ it through our senses. Aimed at those exploring their spiritual journeys and disillusioned sceptics alike – God’s fingerprints is about putting us ‘in touch’ with our senses so we become more aware of the evidence of God around us. Through conversations, through stories, through art.

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Your Stories

Stories don’t simply tell, they show – they are relational rather than simply informational, the reader can become involved. They can help us make sense of things, challenge us and inspire us. Take a moment to hear other people’s true stories – to discover more evidence of God’s fingerprints brought to light.

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Latest Stories

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Lost and found

“In many ways my life has been rather like a record of the lost and found. Perhaps all lives are like that.” Lucy Foley

Living alone for a much greater part of my life this past 18 months, I have spent a longer time each day in prayer, usually beginning at 5.30am until I have breakfast about 7.00-7.30am. To be able to read, pray and worship, in perfect freedom, has made life in Frome a great blessing. I enjoy a growing awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit as a person, a constant support and guide – an awareness on a different level than ever before. He really is the Holy Spirit of the Trinity! So, when I lost a little gold earring about three weeks ago, I immediately called for help to find it, not at all for its value but because my husband gave them to me years ago.

Once I lost a gold bracelet on one of my many dog walks in a local forest but, with the help of God, quickly found it again. This time it was different. More conscious of the Holy Spirit’s presence, I knew He would know where I had lost the earring and that he could show/reveal it to me. However, as I had taken a long walk, I knew there was no hope of retracing my steps ……

A week later, I went on a short stroll across just the top of the field I had wondered along before, following the hedge, and even then I still felt this consciousness of His knowing where the earring was hiding. As I approached the gate to leave the field, I looked down at the rough ground ……. and there I saw it!! It was lying not shiny side up but backside up amidst the grass and the mud. Oh, what a joy!! Not simply the joy of recovering the earring but the confirming of the presence and provision of the Holy Spirit. Praise Him indeed!

The words of Luke 15:8-10 sum up my feelings: Jesus said, “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me, I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

The joy that filled my heart that day as I picked up the earring reminded me of the joy the angels must have shared when I gave my life to Christ!

‘I once was lost but now am found; was blind but now I see.’ Words from the hymn ‘Amazing grace’.

Tile snv82850 Quote marks small 92b0d354f3c8d216ab0b7c1575c82b59dfb00dde9cc0391c8b5b3b6b5f6c5c9a A Fingerprint in Russia
A Fingerprint in Russia

Several years ago, I was visiting church planters in north western Russia.

About this time of the year - Pentecost - I often think about a strange incident that happened to me several years ago. I was travelling in the north of Russia, visiting churches there. It was spring, but it was still cold, and there was a lot of snow on the ground. We went to visit a church in the countryside. The church was having a prayer and praise meeting, and I remember being seized by my usual self doubt - what am I doing here? What’s this all about?

And then the strange happened. During the meeting I noticed that the pastor was praising God in English. And I was thinking, wow, that’s so kind. He knows there is someone from England in the meeting, so he is praying in English. I must have been the only English person for many miles around.

After the meeting we went back to the pastor’s home. And as we were eating, I thanked the pastor for his consideration of me by worshipping in English. He was surprised, and said, “I don’t know English. I was just praying.” And then we began to realise what had happened. He was speaking a speaking a language that was unknown to him, but of course I knew it, because I am from England. He was speaking in tongues! His accent was Russian, of course, but the words were clearly English, and I understood them. This happened on several occasions subsequently, not just once.

He became known in that area as the ‘English pastor,’ because when he spoke in tongues, he spoke in English! I know of at least one person, and there were probably others, who became Christians as a result of this. A mini Pentecost. It was truly remarkable.

Those manifestations ceased when he began to study English. But I will never forget those times, as long as I live. Our Father really does know where we are, and He knows what His children need to hear, when they need to hear it.

Tile img 0405 Quote marks small 92b0d354f3c8d216ab0b7c1575c82b59dfb00dde9cc0391c8b5b3b6b5f6c5c9a Fingerprints in the 10/40 Window
Fingerprints in the 10/40 Window

I work in the 10/40 window, which is a region with a clutch of countries that are said to be most resistant to faith. Communicating news and other requests over the Internet can be a challenge, especially if you want to avoid the attentions of unintended third parties. I therefore use a set of substitute words, such as ‘Father’, and ‘family,’ or ‘families’ if I need to use the plural form. Other terms, such as ‘chats with the Father,’ are also used.

One day it hit me like a bolt from the blue that these terms are exactly the kind of language that our Father wants us to use, as they describe the relationships He wants us to have with Him and with each other. These terms, among many others, are descriptions of intimacy that are at the very heart of the story that we belong to. They speak of identity, community and belonging, in a cold, alienated and broken world. They represent deep theology, in this case revealed in the most surprising of ways! Thank Him for the unintended third parties!

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A fingerprint at Lee Abbey

I live and work in Outer Mongolia, and for several years on my return visits to the UK, I have made Lee Abbey a place where I can retreat to and recharge my spiritual batteries. Lee Abbey is a great place to reconnect with the One whose initiative causes our work to happen, and for whose glory that work is done. If you’ve never been there, Lee Abbey is quite a ‘hidden away’ place, on the coast of North Devon, England. But it’s not so ‘hidden away’ as you might expect, as the following story illustrates.

A couple of years ago, I was driving down to Lee Abbey, when I had an impression that there would be someone on community whose country of origin was - Mongolia! I dismissed it as impossible, but it wouldn’t go away. The hours - and the miles - went by, and eventually, I arrived at Lee Abbey. And when I met the pastoral host, she asked the usual questions: “How was the journey?” “Where have you come from?” etc. Of course I mentioned that I live in Mongolia. And she said, “Really? We have someone on community from Mongolia! Her name is Erka [not her real name]. I must make sure you meet her. She doesn’t find it easy to connect with people, because she’s not confident with her English…” No-one from Mongolia had ever been on community at Lee Abbey before.

Back in Mongolia, I still meet with Erka from time to time. And I’m often reminded of that curious impression on the motorway, the connection, the conversations - in Mongolian - in the dining hall, at Lee Abbey! Of course, if God can make the connection between someone living in one of the most remote places on earth, and someone from that country serving in one of the remotest places in England, then we have justifiable cause for deep amazement in His providence and care!

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Watford v Newcastle Utd

Saturday 23 January 2016. Destination: Watford v Newcastle Utd 3.00pm

The car was full of conversation. I was driving Philip Hawthorn, a vicar in Bath, and his son Ted, both passionate Watford supporters, to see the Newcastle match at Vicarage Road. It was both Philip and Ted’s first visit to a Premiership game and we were celebrating Ted’s birthday – our hearts were filled with pre-match nerves and expectation. It was an important game for both sides (they all are for supporters!) and memories of past victories, favourite players and memorable goals filled the car as we drove up the M4.

I had known Philip for some years, but we had only met each other very briefly and the journey gave us both an opportunity to ‘share our stories’, for we knew very little about each other. We were approaching Reading when the conversation moved to our family histories and life before ordination and I asked Philip a simple, straightforward question. His reply and what followed almost caused us both to fall out of the car in astonishment!

My question was how did Philip meet Lizzie, his wife. He explained he was working for the BBC at the time and was in the process of producing a programme for children’s television. He needed some music to accompany the programme and his PA suggested a music group she had links with (one of her closest friends was the group’s lead singer). I asked him what the name of the group was and Philip replied, ‘New Beginnings’. With mounting incredulity, I responded, ‘Do you mean the group which has as its emblem a butterfly painted on each of the instruments? The group which has a ministry in prisons?’ ‘Yes, that’s the one’, said Philip, ‘and Lizzie’s close friend was the lead singer in the group.’

I could hardly believe what I was hearing. No-one had ever mentioned to me before the name of that group which I had encountered in Horfield Prison in 1982 when I was training for ordination. My practical placement for a year of my course was in the local prison and a remarkable story unfolded in the course of my visits. The story is recounted in ‘God’s Fingerprints:The Evidence is Everywhere’ under story P:Prison. In brief, a prisoner I had been meeting for some weeks asked if he could go to a chapel service one Sunday and, on the appointed day, we met up and I accompanied him to the chapel service. We walked into the chapel and discovered a group was visiting that Sunday – New Beginnings! Without going into detail (you’ll have to read the book!!), in the course of that service the ministry offered by the group, especially the stunning lead singer, was profoundly powerful and at the end of the service the prisoner went forward and offered his life to Christ. When he subsequently was released, he walked out of prison, across the road to where I stood, and simply said, ‘John, I think God for bringing me in here because it was in here I met Him.’ Every Christmas Day since 1983 I have received a telephone call at 1.00 pm from Philip for a brief chat.

The very lead singer who helped to bring the prisoner to come to know the love of God was the one who had introduced Philip to his wife! I had heard nothing of that group or its members since 1982 until shortly before 12noon on the M4 driving up to see Watford play. The man sitting beside me had been introduced to his wife through a close friend of his PA, that very lead singer!! We both just burst out laughing and reflected on the way in which we discover God’s fingerprints upon our lives in the most astonishing and unexpected ways.

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A Cornish coastal walk

I was staying with my wife for a few days in Gorran Haven in Cornwall and one morning we decided to walk the cliff path to near Mevagissey and return along the lanes. The weather and scenery were stunning and, having negotiated the cliff walk and reached Portmellon, we stopped for a leisurely packed lunch and then off on the return loop along the lanes.

After a stiff climb along the road up from the cove, the map indicated a footpath across a field which would cut off a corner. To our (especially my!) irritation we discovered the farmer had simply ploughed up the field and planted it with maize which by then was fully grown. We searched in vain for a path and returned to the lane. A short time later we bumped into another couple, poring over their map, looking for the same footpath but from the other end. We smiled and said we had been doing the same but that the farmer had ploughed over the path. I admitted (confessed?) that in my irritation, I had ‘liberated’ a few sweetcorn cobs for our supper that evening!

The other couple smiled and said, ‘Well, we live in the countryside and fully understand!’ ‘Where do you live?’ I enquired, and they replied, ‘Oh, in a very small village in the East Midlands.’ ‘Where exactly?’ I said and they responded, ‘It’s in Buckinghamshire, just a few hundred people – it’s called Bledlow.’

‘Bledlow?!!’, I exclaimed. ‘My family have been linked with that village since 1935. My grandparents and parents lived there, my earliest years were spent there in 1944-5, I was baptised in Holy Trinity Church and I lived in the village for a year in 1968-9. How amazing is that!’

It turned out that Ann played the organ weekly in the church, Colin edited the church magazine and both were deeply embedded in the life of the village. We exchanged news about residents (some families had been rooted in the village for generations), memories about the village cricket club (I had been a member in the 1970’s) and subsequently I was invited back to preach at Holy Trinity and to present the ‘Samways Cup’ (given by my father) to one of the winners in the annual Bledlow Flower Show.

Chris and I left Colin and Ann following an embrace and a prayer, each of us filled with a sense of wonder. If our timings had been just a few minutes different we would have missed each other. We have subsequently kept in touch, and prayed for one another through various family challenges and crises. Through a ‘chance’ encounter and a brief conversation, new friendships were formed, precious memories recalled and our lives immeasurably enriched. The ‘aroma of Christ’ filled those moments – surely, ‘in him all things hold together.’(Col 1:17).

Tile snv83599 Quote marks small 92b0d354f3c8d216ab0b7c1575c82b59dfb00dde9cc0391c8b5b3b6b5f6c5c9a A Fingerprint in the Gobi
A Fingerprint in the Gobi

Ten years ago, my local colleagues and I were traveling across the vast Gobi desert in Mongolia, supporting church planting work in this most inhospitable of worlds. It was summer, and typically for Mongolia, the sky was blue, and the desert stretched in every direction as far as the eye could see. Magical, in its austere way. We were bounding along in the jeep, and all was going well, when all of a sudden, we heard a crunch underneath the vehicle. We stopped. On closer inspection, we discovered the sump had fractured, and already there was oil dripping out onto the ground. In an instant, our jeep was transformed from a vehicle moving at speed - probably too fast, actually - into one that was undriveable. We were in trouble, and we knew it.

The sun rose in the sky, and the heat beat down on the car. We were miles from anywhere, and there was not another soul in sight. We prayed. My prayer was something like: ‘Father, we’re here. And you know we’re here. We need your help.’ The hours passed by. It seemed no-one else was travelling that way.

Then, as evening came, we saw a speck in the distance. The speck drew closer, and we saw it was a Russian van. Our hearts leapt, and we were able to flag the driver down. The driver agreed to tow us, and the vehicles were hitched up. He agreed to take us to the nearest settlement, where we could get help. As we came to the top of the hill overlooking the settlement, the vehicles were unhitched. A tow was never going to work on a steep downhill run. So we freewheeled our vehicle down the hill.

And so we arrived in the settlement. With the clouds of dust in our wake, we must have made quite an entrance! As it happened, our vehicle came to a stop right outside - a car repair workshop! As for the driver who towed us, we never saw him again. It hardly needed to be said, but as, exhausted, we fell into our beds that evening, we all knew the Lord had been at work. Our situation could have been so much worse, and we praised Him before sleep took over!

Tile corkboard Quote marks small 92b0d354f3c8d216ab0b7c1575c82b59dfb00dde9cc0391c8b5b3b6b5f6c5c9a I need a corkboard!
I need a corkboard!

When I was at Theological College in Oxford, I had a particularly busy period in my second year when time was very limited. As part of my responsibilities on a college committee, I needed to buy a corkboard to display some information. I knew where they sold them in central Oxford (or thought I did), and so hurried there with a very limited amount of spare time to buy one. I went into the shop that I thought stocked them, but found that they didn't sell them. I came out of the shop and stood in the middle of the pedestrian precinct and silently prayed a very heart-felt prayer that went something like this: "Lord, you know I don't have time to go trawling around looking for a corkboard. Please, show me where to find one."

That afternoon, however, I also wanted to buy a houseplant as a birthday present for a friend, so I then put the issue of the corkboard to one side and went to find a plant first. Littlewoods was just nearby in the precinct, and as I thought they sold them I went there first. I looked around the ground floor but couldn't see any plants so I asked an assistant. However, as soon as she started speaking, I was fairly certain she didn't know the answer to my question, but she did say that if they were anywhere, they would be upstairs in the household section. As I went towards the escalator, I saw another assistant and thought about asking her but decided not to. Instead, with a certain amount of weary resignation, I thought I’d just go up anyway. As I went up the escalator and neared the top, I saw a big sign suspended from the ceiling ahead of me saying "Household" - I looked down, and there at the front of a big floor-display underneath the "Household" sign was a large corkboard!

There were two postscripts to the story: the shop didn't sell houseplants, and so had I asked the second assistant and been told they didn't sell them, I would have walked out of the shop without finding the corkboard. The other postscript was sensing God speak to me at that moment, telling me that He could get me where He wanted me, without me even realising it. It has remained over the years not just an example of an answer to prayer but also a lesson in God's ability to guide me—even when I’m not aware of Him doing so!

What's your story?

Inspire, enlighten, challenge Fingerprint small 1e57bc1eebca227716b120b6311f129ba7af309a70996c33c6a53bca01976be9 By sharing your experiences

And what about your own faith journey? Do you have a story of exploration and discovery, an epiphany moment? Here’s your opportunity to share this with others and ‘encourage one another’ (Heb 10:25). Perhaps your story will help someone to discover the fingerprints of God upon their own journey of life.

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