Struggles. Some are self imposed. Others are imposed upon us. And then there are the struggles that we face that are neither self imposed nor thrust upon us by others. These struggles are the ones that tend to either identify us as Christians, or leave us on the rubbish heap of society. The overcoming of these struggles is what gives us as Christians a testimony. It is also what gives others a renewed hope and an encouragement of faith. The story of Vance and Tia Hopkins is such a testimony.
To know Vance and Tia is to know a true, Godly couple. They are warm, outgoing and personable. Always willing to help others, and to be prayer warriors for those who ask, Vance and Tia are a model for those who seek God daily. Coming from humble backgrounds, Vance and Tia met up in Delaware, fell in love, and were married. Vance worked as a salesman for a company that took him throughout the Mid-Atlantic States. It was on one of these trips, that he found himself in Henderson, North Carolina. Always a man of the Lord, and heeding to His voice, Vance felt a strong urging in his soul to move to Henderson. Upon returning to Delaware, he told Tia of his feelings, and together they decided to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Without knowing a single person in Henderson, Vance and Tia packed up, or sold all their possessions, loaded up their car, and moved to North Carolina. Not having an office in Henderson, Vance and Tia also had to quit their jobs. A total move of faith!!
The Hopkins began looking for a church to attend, since both of them had been involved in the church they came from. Tia recalls, “Vance had a word from the Lord about which church we were supposed to attend. He was told what the church looked like, and what road it was on, but not the name.” The Spirit had led him to drive up and down Capitol Boulevard, which they did. When they passed Living Word they knew that was the place the Spirit was leading them. As soon as they pulled into the parking lot both of them knew this was going to be their new church home. That was in 2005, and they have been there ever since.
After a few tense months, both Vance and Tia found employment. Having moved in with a family from church to help save on expenses, Tia had found a job working with an international company based out of Oxford, NC. “My commute was 55 minutes to an hour, each way, from the house in Zebulon to Oxford,” Tia recalls. “It was mid-February of 2011 that I started getting these terrible migraines. I went to see a doctor, and he wrote me a prescription for pain medication. I took the medication daily, but it didn’t work. The migraines kept getting worse, moving from the left to the right to the front to the back of my head and started to affect my job, my marriage and my physical health. Vance had gotten Pastor Steve’s healing CD, and it became a part of our daily listening routine. We also bought the book, Prayers That Avail Much, and read it daily.”
Tia recollected this also, “Being a liaison for my company, I was expected to be at work every day. On February 28th of 2011, I drove to work almost blinded by the pain. When I got to Oxford, I was told that we were going to a meeting in Raleigh. I told my employer about my condition, but my symptoms were dismissed. So, I drove from Oxford to Raleigh with them to do the meeting. I was so sick in the conference, that I was literally doubled over in my chair. We then drove back to Oxford, then had to go to Henderson, back to Oxford, and finally home to Zebulon. I did all this while a migraine ravaged my mind, my spirit and my body.” When Tia finally got back home, Vance insisted that she try to eat something. She recounted, “I just wanted to go to bed, but I agreed to eat a little soup. It took everything I had to crawl into bed that night and fall into a deep sleep.”
“Vance’s daily routine was to wake up at 4 am to pray. He would get up and go downstairs so he wouldn’t disturb me, every day. Then he would come back upstairs around 6 am or so to wake me up so I could start getting ready for work”, Tia fondly recalls. But the morning of March 1st, Vance changed his routine. Waking at 4 am in the morning, his spirit told him not to go downstairs and pray, but to stay with Tia. Vance could have easily dismissed this prompting as the enemy trying to interrupt his schedule, but he knew that there was something more going on. He heard Tia moaning and her breathing begin to get shallow. He tried to wake her. He shook her and called her name, but Tia would not respond. He then ran to the intercom system and woke up Bryant and Pam, with whom they were living. Being a solid man of prayer, Vance hit his knees and began praying in the Spirit over Tia. When Bryant and Pam got upstairs, they found Vance deep into prayer. After 911 was called they all joined in fervent prayer together over Tia until the ambulance took her to the hospital.
Tia remembers, “I could hear Vance, Bryant and Pam praying over me and could also hear Pam asking me questions, but I couldn’t respond. It was as if something was keeping me in a deep state of unconsciousness physically, but I could hear what was going on around me.”
At the hospital the doctors conferred with Vance about what had happened to his wife. They told him that Tia had suffered a stroke, but they were unsure of the root cause, which is still the case today. Unaware of her diagnosis, Tia rested in the Holy Spirit as the church family rallied around her bedside. Tia reflected on their thought then, “It was truly a blessing to see all the support from our church family. Being so far away from our physical ‘home’ in Delaware, the outpouring of love and support for the week I was hospitalized was amazing.”
Tia not only came through this attack with a clean bill of health, but she also suffered no ill effects that victims of strokes suffer. She has full mental and physical capabilities, and a deeper love and respect both for her husband, and her God.
“The lessons I learned from this ordeal are many,” Tia confides. “The most important lesson, though, is to not be so rigid in our routine that we cannot be obedient to the will of God. If Vance had dismissed the urgings of the Holy Spirit that morning, I would not be here, I would be dead. If he would have followed his routine, and convinced himself that the Spirit’s instruction was just the enemy trying to break his routine, things could have ended differently.”
Tia’s story is a testament to how the will of God was done in her life. The obedience that God so desires was demonstrated by the willingness to move to North Carolina. It was found in Tia’s willingness to let her husband be the leader of the family. And it was found in Vance’s willingness to continue to obey God, even when the evidence in the world told them it was insane. They stood on God’s promises of fruitfulness and prosperity, on the unseen, and God is continuing to reward them. Today, the Hopkins live outside of Fayetteville, North Carolina, where Vance has developed a prosperous business and client base. They are still regular attendees of Living Word, and still continue to serve on the Welcome Team. Even though it would be easy for them to make excuses about the commute from Fayetteville to Wake Forest, the lessons learned from their experiences here and God’s perfect plan for their lives remove all excuses. The Hopkins encourage us to, “Obey God in the little things, and watch His wonders flow through you!” That’s a message we should all remember!