He looked at the message again and was puzzled by who had sent it. He re-read the request carefully. But then another Facebook message came through, apologizing for the first. And he understood. This woman was in trouble.
Even though he wasn’t the intended recipient, he had received her message loud and clear. And he was going to do something about it.
Amy Rickel, Wisconsin resident and single mother of three, hit hard times in 2016 when she decided to move to the city of Green Bay to be closer to the father of her children.
But it wasn’t long before things took a turn for the worse for the family and they found themselves in a difficult situation.
After Amy and her children, aged four, six, and eight, had relocated to Green Bay, Amy lost her job. With four mouths to feed and no source of income, she was living a mother’s worst nightmare. But it only got worse from there.
With no money to cover her rent, Amy feared that the family would soon have nowhere to live. And then, that day came.
Stretched To The Limit
With a small amount of money left in her bank account, Amy and her children stayed in a hotel for a few weeks. Amy put on a brave face and stayed strong while she continued to search for a job – trying not to think about what would happen when the money ran out.
But she never anticipated the day that her luck would run out, too.
More Bad Luck
The morning that Amy’s car wouldn’t start, she knew that things were about to get a lot worse. She had no money to repair it, and now she had no means of taking the kids to school or getting to job interviews.
She felt desperate and had nowhere to turn. So, she reached out to a friend.
Amy sent a message to one of her friends on Facebook named Brian, asking him to keep her in his prayers. She wrote: “Hi Brain, wondering if you know a good bible verse for someone to pray when in deep fear, weak, scared, and personal despair/lost/breaking?”
Only, she didn’t realize that she had sent the message to the wrong person right away.
Sent In Error
When Amy eventually realized her mistake, she was mortified. She had sent the message to a man named Brian Van Boxtel instead of to another close friend, who was also named Brian.
Amy felt so embarrassed to have bared her soul to a man she barely knew that she quickly sent another message before he could reply.
He Wasn’t Done
Amy wrote: “wrong person, I am so sorry.”But Brian wasn’t going to let her leave it at that. He felt like a higher power had lead Amy to send that message and that it was meant for him.
He felt compelled to do something for the woman he hardly knew after considering the question: “What would Jesus do?” – he sent her a verse from Psalm 56.3.
For A Reason
He wrote back: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Amy told WPXI News: “He was like, ‘Nope! God puts us in people’s lives for a reason.’” And Brian had responded to the desperate mom just as she had reached her lowest point.
She said she was “bawling and praying and that’s when Brian messaged me.” But what could he do to help Amy?
After chatting with Amy for a bit, he understood what an enormous predicament she was in. So he told her that he’d pay for her hotel stay – but this wasn’t a long-term solution. Then, he suggested that she does something to try to raise some money for herself and her children.
But how could she do this?
Brian said that he’d help Amy set up a GoFundMe page to help raise the money that Amy and her family needed to get the car repaired and get them back on their feet again.
But neither Brian nor Amy could have anticipated the responses that followed when people read about her heartbreaking story.
A woman named Kathy Schumann saw Amy’s GoFundMe page and was so touched by her story that she felt compelled to help, too. So she lent the struggling mom her minivan and arranged for a place for Amy and her children to stay.
“She really tugged at our heartstrings,” Kathy explained to WPXI News.
Making A Plan
“And we just felt like this holiday season we couldn’t let the kids be out in the cold…” Kathy continued. “We cleared out a room and brought them home.” Then, another good Samaritan saw Amy’s story and decided to help, too.
Now that she had a place to stay, she needed a job.
Chad Morack was so determined to help the Rickel family that he arranged for Amy to meet with a medical recruitment agency in Appleton. You see, although Amy was having a tough time finding employment, she was actually a licensed nurse.
Chad tried to pull some strings to make it happen, but it wasn’t easy.
Behind The Scenes
“Amy will attest there was a lot of work and a lot of behind the scenes stuff going on to really make this happen and to make it happen quickly,” Chad told the news channel.
But soon after Chad’s intervention, Alexandria Witkowski, a senior recruiter at TotalMed, met with Amy to discuss the employment options.
A Strong Résumé
Alexandria could see that Amy had a strong résumé and was surprised that she hadn’t been hired sooner. And when she heard what the desperate mom had been through in the last few months, she knew she had to do everything in her power to try and help her out.
But was Amy’s luck finally turning around?
“I couldn’t help but continue working really hard to get her references and résumé over to our clients so we could get her a full-time position,” Alexandria Witkowski said. And soon, all her hard work began to pay off.
She managed to get Amy an interview for a nursing position at the local hospital. Amy held her breath as she waited for feedback.
The Call That Changed Everything
Then, not long afterward, she received a call. She was offered the position! Even better? She was asked to begin work the following month. Amy was elated!
It had been just nine days since she sent that fateful message – that hadn’t even reached its intended recipient – and her whole life had been turned around!
First, Brian had offered to pay for the family’s hotel stay, then another good Samaritan had given them a permanent place to live and the use of a car, and now she could finally start to pay her way again with the money she received from her new job.
It truly was a Christmas miracle! But what does Amy have to say?
She Couldn’t Believe It
Amy admitted that she was “pretty amazed” that three strangers had banded together to help her in her time of need. “I still kind of find it unbelievable,” she added. And she is eternally grateful to Brian, Kate, and Alexandria. In fact, they all spent Christmas together that year.
But what is Amy doing now?
Amy continues to work as a nurse at Oshkosh Correctional Institute, but she admits that she never would be there if it wasn’t for Brian. “It’s all because of you, Brian Van Boxtel,” she wrote on her Facebook page.
“Still having a hard time swallowing my pride but you, sir, have renewed my faith in so many things, but most importantly God’s amazing way of sending an angel when you most need it! You are amazing!”