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Minister's radio segments aim to foster hope

Hope in hard times: The Rev. Tony Marciano said recently he's run into too many people who have lost their sense of hope.

So the executive director of Charlotte Rescue Mission went back through his own life and remembered times where he said if God hadn't come through for him, “life would have been very difficult.” He's condensed the stories into two- and three-minute segments that are airing weekdays on WHVN-AM (1240) and 106.9 FM.

He hopes the series, called “Chicken Soup for the Charlotte Soul,” brings encouragement to people and reminds them God is still there, even when times are hard.

“I want people to think back and to pause and remember that God was good, that God was faithful and as he was faithful in the past so too will he be faithful today,” Marciano said.

A broken transmission: Marciano's stories begin in 1978 when he was a college student. He was short on money, and the transmission on his car blew up for the second time in about a year. He had spent $200 repairing it the first time, and he just didn't have the money. But he did have a box of parts, which he took with the transmission to a friend's shop.

“A week later, they handed me a rebuilt transmission for $45,” Marciano said.

He describes his first church, which was deeply in debt and on the verge of closing. One night a couple came in to talk about getting involved in the church, and Marciano told them he wasn't sure there would even be a church to join.

The husband elbowed his wife and said, “I told you we were supposed to come here.” The man put $550 in cash on Marciano's desk, told him they'd be praying for him and left.

Marciano never learned the couple's names or saw them again, but “that night began a turnaround for the church's finances.” Two years later, the church was out of debt, he said.

He tells stories of a mysterious stranger returning his lost wallet, opening a church in a funeral home and a Jewish car dealer allowing his church to use his showroom and front lot for a week to put together 330 food and gift baskets for needy families.

Have faith: Marciano said his stories are not intended to sugarcoat events and tell people “smile and everything is going to be fine.” He wants people to remember that even when life doesn't make sense, God is faithful.

“Those (bad) things happen, and we forget and we move on with life, and we get in a crisis like today and say it's all doom and gloom. When we're in uncertain economic times, (I want people to remember that) God has never abandoned us.”

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