Living on a Prayer and a Coin
As featured in the Nspire Magazine Summer/Fall 2014 Coeur d’Alene Edition
By: Toby Reynolds/Photography by: Benjamin Powell
We live in a fast paced world. We are surrounded by conflict, frustration, tragedy, war, wickedness and doubt. Indeed these things are more prevalent than ever before in the history of the earth. It is a world where, for one who is searching, relief may be difficult to find. This is the story of two men who have found peace through faith and prayer. Ron Nilson wasn’t always, what he’d call a man of faith. He recalls being taught as a child about God, but admits he’d never really felt God’s influence on his life. That began to change when Ron was 55 years old.
Ron’s friend, Tom—a man Ron truly looked up to–asked him one day, “Ron, what are you doing with your power and influence?” Ron didn’t understand what he meant, and so simply replied, “I don’t know.” Tom explained that he’d been meeting with a group of men who were studying self-improvement books in an effort to become better husbands, fathers, and leaders, and invited Ron to join them. This was not a Bible study, but after about a year of attending these meeting, Ron started a personal quest to build a relationship with God.
About this time, Tom’s young son died in a tragic accident. Ron recalls, “I remember standing on the lawn outside [Tom’s] house, crying. I wanted to help lighten his load, but realized at that moment, there was really nothing I could do.”
Tom stepped over to Ron, hugged him, and said, “Ron, because of what you and I know, I didn’t have to say goodbye to my son today. Instead, I just got to say, ‘I’ll see you later, buddy.’”
Tom has since gone to be with his son, but Ron will never forget the influence Tom had on him. Ron has a portrait of his friend as a reminder of
Tom’s faith. He also carries a coin in his pocket, a prayer coin, to remind him not only to pray, but to live his faith. And he expects his employees to hold him accountable. “If I’m not living what I preach,” Ron says. “I expect my guys to let me know.” Ron Nilson is CEO of Ground Force. He received the Businessman of the Year award in 2013. Says Ron, “I’m an ordinary guy who’s in way over his head.”
For Sean Henry of Rock & Water in Hayden, Idaho, prayer and faith in God have been a major source of direction and peace. When Ron Nilson handed Sean a prayer coin, Sean says, “I took it as a friendship from another brother that’s like having him call and encourage me that day.” It was a meaningful gift that said to Sean, “Put this in your pocket. We’re all really busy, and we’re running crazy, and sometimes we need a reminder to stop; ‘Be still and know that I am God.’”
Among the many experiences Sean has had that strengthened his faith, and brought him peace, perhaps none strengthened him more than a plane crash in a Montana airport. Surprisingly, even to Sean, his surviving the crash was not the thing that mattered to him. It was the overwhelming abundance of actual peace he experienced as the plane went down that meant the most.
Sean had been flying a lot for work. He was preparing for another trip to Montana the next day when, to his surprise, he felt that he should prepare a survival kit. When he told his wife about these feelings, she asked why. “I don’t know,” he said. “I guess I just feel there’s a chance our plane could go down sometime. And I need to be prepared.” Little did he know his plane would go down the very next day.
Sean was seated with his back to the front of the aircraft. It was extremely cold that day as they passed over the mountains and began their approach. Sean noticed through the windows, a layer of thick ice on the wings, and wondered if that was normal. Almost immediately after, Sean says, “The tail just dropped, and the engines were sputtering.” He knew then that they were going to crash, but he says, “I wasn’t afraid. I wasn’t thinking about my life, or my family.
The only thing I was thinking was, ‘Here I come, Jesus.’” He admits how weird it might sound, but the truth is he was excited. “I was about to meet God.” He explained it as feeling like he was jumping off a cliff into the water and into the open arms of his loving father.
Yes, Sean had the prayer coin in his pocket, and, yes, he survived with no serious injuries. But Sean makes it quite clear that there was no more power in that prayer coin to save his life, than there is power in a stone retrieved from a street side gutter and placed under a pillow for a prayer rock. God answers prayers. Coins and rocks do not. But they can serve as a powerful reminder to not set aside the truly important things in life. The things that bring true peace.