I recently had the opportunity to meet and interview Alice Painter and Julie Dykstra, who have a remarkable meeting story and friendship spanning over 25 years.
Julie Dykstra moved to West Sayville, New York in the late 80s with her husband who was the pastor of West Sayville Christian Reformed Church. Julie really enjoyed her new city and the friendships she was making at the church. There was a Christian school next to the church and a real sense of family existed in the congregation. Julie felt like she needed to connect more to the community and that’s where Coffee Break was a big help. Julie liked how their groups had a variety of ages of women attending. As much as half of the groups were also made up of people from the community.
Despite this, Julie wished she could have more opportunities to connect with people in the community. Therefore, when it came time for her to deliver her fourth child, she had an idea. Julie said, “When I was pregnant with my fourth child, my husband suggested that I ask for a private room. But I had a desire to try having a roommate.”
That roommate was Alice Painter, who delivered her baby the day after Julie had given birth. This was Julie’s chance to connect one-on-one with someone who was an unbeliever. Unfortunately the curtain was pulled most of the time, and Alice was quite busy with phone calls and visitors.
Julie overheard Alice talking on the phone with two people named Ingrid. Julie knew two Ingrids, a mother and daughter, who attended Coffee Break. She found out from Alice that these women were her mom and sister! Even Alice’s mother, who stopped by the hospital for a visit, could not believe that she was sharing a room with Julie from her Coffee Break.
Eventually Julie left the hospital but had not found the right opportunity to invite Alice to church or Coffee Break. About a month later, Alice visited the church with her husband and newborn baby. Immediately Julie knew she had another opportunity that she could not miss to invite Alice to Coffee Break.
Alice began attending the church and Coffee Break and eventually came to accept Jesus Christ. Alice remembers how the church also loved and cared for her husband, who would later come to faith. Alice became very involved in the Coffee Break groups, eventually also becoming a leader.
Julie and Alice both commented that Coffee Break made a difference in their lives as it helped them deepen their faith and appreciate how God uses divine appointments! Even though Julie moved away when her husband took another call, they have remained close friends for over 25 years (this November it will be 30 years).
Julie and Alice look back and see how God’s hand was at work to get them together. One simple decision to choose to have a roommate eventually led to Alice coming to church and to faith in the Lord and established a lasting friendship.