• Rana Jones

I Will Give a Life That is Better Than You Can Ever Dream of or Imagine


This is truly the story of God’s incredible goodness and His loving kindness in our lives. Since I was a child, I was so aware of the hand and favor of God in my life. Even at the age of 44 now, I still see myself as His little girl that He delights in and loves so deeply. The Father’s tender heart for us always blows me away as He speaks to me, smiles at me, loves me, inspires me, corrects me always in love and leads me by the hand.


The story of East meets West, Lebanese girl marrying a Welsh boy, began in 1998 on a trip I

made to Dubai as a young PR account executive working for a multinational agency. My

company sent me to the UAE for two-week training at our Dubai head office, that ultimately

changed my life! I was 21 years old and was eager to grow in my career and giftings. Matt

was a Group Account Director and I got to know him over the first few days, he was

charming and kind.


I come from a very conservative family who loves God dearly but were not so big on church

going. My parents love Jesus and have such strong faith. God continues to speak to both of

them through dreams and visions. His hand over our lives as a family has been so evident

especially with us living in various Arab nations as we grew up. I have seen so many

miracle’s in my family’s life and so much of His provision and favor in all we did.


During those two weeks in Dubai I got to know Matt as a colleague and a friend and we

talked about everything under the sun, especially God. I remember Him telling me that He

had not spoken about God in a long time to people socially.


Two weeks later, I head back to Beirut and at the airport with my super protective Dad, I tell

him, Dad, I met a guy and I think he is the one. To my Dad’s surprise and with His bass tone

voice, he said, we’ll talk about this later!


Matt also heard an inner audible voice after we met that this was the woman he was going

to marry. Then he thought it was his late father’s voice. But now we know it was God. Matt

came for a visit a few months later to Beirut and met my family and basically that is where

our long-distance relationship started.


In our early courtship days, we’d see each other for a few days every three to four months.

We used to use the internal agency mail to send our love letters and cards. It was a really

special time and all our colleagues would speak about our relationship as a beautiful love

story.


I remember us having conversations about the possibility of getting married one day. If we

get married, we used to say, how many kids would we have and what would their names

be? We always wanted to honor our Dads and so the name James Edward was our choice of

a boy name. As for a girl name, I loved Jasmine and the smell of Jasmine flowers and so that

was our name for a girl. We later added Joy to it, Jasmine Joy after we lost Matt’s mom to

cancer a while back.


We got married in 2001 in Wales and then headed to Dubai as a married couple to start our

lives togethers. We worked hard and loved life in our city. We had great careers, a good

group of friends and an awareness of Jesus and His love for us but not a deep relationship,

although we did pray and ask Him, Is there more to life than this. Our church life was a visit

to the Catholic church to light a candle and pray for us and our loved ones every few

months.


In 2002, a wonderful friend of ours, Werner Viljoen who was a brand manager for the same

company I worked for invited me to his church, Well of Life. We had a deep discussion about

God and the Christian faith. As a Christian Arab, I had realised I diluted my understanding of

the triune God to live along my friends from other faiths who I dearly loved. Despite being

raised up in an American influenced Baptist School in Jordan, where the gospel and the love

of Jesus was central to all we did, as a Christian Arabs, I still would find bridges to connect

with my friends in the area of faith.


I believe we were so hungry in our spirit that when we got to Well of Life in the summer of

2002, we encountered God. He touched us and we never looked back. We slotted in straight

away! We never missed a meeting and just served wherever and whenever we could using

our skill sets and passions.


As a newly married couple we agreed that the first four to five years of our married life, we

would just travel and grow in our careers and just enjoy each other. I remember we were so

worried about falling pregnant when we first got married that we made sure we had

protection because we both thought we would get pregnant straight away and that was not

what we wanted.


In 2004, my period did not come on one of the months and I am regular and have never had

issues. I think I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. So, I went for a check-up and the

doctor said, the hormone indicates that you are in super early pregnancy but I cannot see

anything. She gave me hormones and asked me to wait for a few weeks. During that time, I

remember going to Mike and Charmaine Eltringham during one of the prayer meetings, who

used to lead Well of Life, and I asked them to lay hands and pray for me. We did not tell

anyone as the doctor could not see anything yet. But this was the first time we both were

aware of the possibility of being parents. I remember Matt kneeling and speaking to my

tummy on our bed. It was so precious. Two weeks later, my period came and the doctor

said, it could have been ectopic pregnancy or was just not meant to be as she could not see

anything in the womb.


Fast forward another few years, we start trying on and off, not wanting to put stress on our

relationship, we agreed as a couple that we will enjoy each other and have fun and not

cause each other unnecessary stress. Back in our early married life, I remember us having

this clear conversation where we talked about the possibility of not having kids because

maybe one of us might have a problem and that we were both okay with it, as our marriage

meant a lot to us and we had each other.


In 2006, I had my period and I continue to spot blood for a whole month. I went back to my

doctor and did some tests and she found out that I have had a super early miscarriage. So

that was disappointing but at the same time, I was glad, or at least I thought, my system is

working then!


Although our careers were quite hectic, we travelled a lot and were fully involved in the

local church, we both truly started desiring kids but asked God for a bubble of grace!

I remember a few ladies at church who were trying and could not conceive, would be so

upset when other women got pregnant. I even had a few experiences where one lady told

me in passing that they are pregnant while I was not!


I remember in one baby shower one lady gave me such a hard time when I shared my words

of encouragement for and expecting mom, that how could I know, I was not a mom. So,

because of these incidents I was resilient and determined to live in peace, joy and have lots

and lots of grace! I did not want to be bitter, I did not want to have all these emotions

running wild every time I attended or organized a baby shower! So, there was one thing we

asked God for, more grace. I personally asked him for a bubble of grace. I wanted full

protection of my mind and emotions. I wanted to just enjoy the journey and trust that He is

totally in control.


This bubble of grace was so tangible for us as a couple. We celebrated those who were

pregnant, we prayed for those who were not and trusted for breakthrough for them. We

saw many conceive over the years. It was a remarkable experience! Dare to ask Him and He

will blow your mind away!


In 2007 we started sensing the call to leave Well of Life as an eldership couple and to move

cities and lead a house church our dear friends Wayne and Angela Jones had started which

was known as Well of life Abu Dhabi back then. And to establish an eldership ordained local

church called Cornerstone. I quit my career which I loved but felt after a church planters

training in Australia that I could be changing lives, instead of selling a product, ultimately.

The training we had by an incredible couple called Leon and Pat Van Daal, was life

transforming! After being trained all over the world in a premium and highly professional

environments, I felt that one-month training in Adelaide was life giving, enriching and

opened my eyes to the next part of our adventure with God.


So, in January 2008, Mike Eltringham and Fred Dalais ordained us as the first

eldership/pastoral couple of this house church that became a local church and Matt had the

privilege of giving it the name Cornerstone. God gave Matt a clear vision of what we would

become, a love letter sent from God’s heart to the city, the nation and the world with His

love.


We dreamt big for the local church, we raised up leaders in partnership with Ephesians 4:11

gifted people’s input and just kept dreaming and dreaming for the local church and for

people.


We kept trying on and off but we had many false alarms. We were also dealing with a lot of

things in a growing local church and so we poured our lives into this local church. We still

experienced God’s incredible grace bubble but desired kids even more and the years were

going by.


Many people prayed and prophesied over us over the years to conceive and that was so

encouraging to receive all these words and stand on the promises of God.

I remember my language started to change from “when we are going to have kids” to “if”. If

we have kids, I’d tell people and I remember Matt would always correct me and say, when

we have kids! That was such an important comment. To keep speaking life and keep

believing.


A significant event that changed my life completely was an encounter with God during a

Heide Baker event in Dubai either at the end of 2008 or in 2009. I remember going for her

first ever visit to Dubai to our friend’s church, Gatekeepers. It was a two-day conference and

I remember the first night she was so drunk in the Spirit that we only worshiped. I came

back saying to Matt, my notebook is empty! I have no notes, I was a bit annoyed! And

unbeknown to me, the next evening, God was going to rock my world and speak to me from

my childhood into my future!


On the second day, Heidi preached on the love of God. I remember her saying, even if they

want to kill me, I will still love them because Jesus loves them! That really touched my heart.

Her awareness and understanding of the Father’s heart was profound. As she prayed for the

love of God to touch all who were at the conference, I fell on the floor and felt a thousand

bolts of Holy Spirit electricity go throughout me from head to toe! And as clear as I could see

with my own eyes, I saw in my mind’s eye a picture of a daisy that I used to doodle all the

time in my childhood. This simple white daisy was on a white paper with a bit of yellow

inside.


I then saw this daisy on a small piece of paper appear in front of me with a black

background so it was the only image I saw. It was cut in half, then in quarter and then it

disappeared. I was shaken by that. I said to God, this was my daisy, my life, my dreams.

What is all that about God.


Then as clear as it can be, in my inner ear, as if it was inside of me and not outside. Jesus

told me, if tomorrow Matt dies, will you still love me? He said it again, if tomorrow Matt

dies, will you still love me?


That was such a hard question for God to ask me. I thought I have always surrendered Matt

but I realised I haven’t really. With lots of crying and what felt like forever, I finally said yes to Jesus. If it was only you and me Lord, I will still love you. He then said to me, lay him down at my feet. Surrender him at my feet. And I did.


Jesus did not stop there! He then said to me. If you never have children. Never. Just you and

me, no one else. Will you still love me? Wow! The emotions and tears that gushed out at

that questions were immense. Again, after lots of tears, I said yes Lord, I will. If I never have

children, I will still love you. He said to me, lay that desire at my feet. And I did.

And so, it continued, if your Dad dies, will you still love me? My parents and family are so

precious to me. My Dad is an older Dad. He had me at 42 and so I wanted him to always live

until he was 100! So, by asking me this question, God knew how important it was for me to

have my Dad around. Again, I cried and said yes Lord. I will still love you. He said to me,

surrender him at my feet.


His last point was big too! If your home, your life, your ministry, everything that is you is

gone. There is only you and me, nothing else and nobody else, will you still love me?

Goodness, I felt there was nothing left. I had given Him everything but I needed to say yes

and I did. He said again, put it under my feet, surrender it.

Then the most incredible Daisy appeared! It was multi-dimensional. It was hues of orange,

yellow, purple and vivid fuchsia! The paper was no longer a paper but like a sculpture! I

heard Jesus say to me so clearly, as you surrender ALL, I will give you a life that is greater

than you can ever dream off or imagine! WOW WOW WOW was and still is my response

every time I think of His open vision, His heart for me, the way He communicates, if we only

let Him.


When I was a child, every time I closed my eyes, I’d see eyes of people. Just their eyes. Old,

young, all backgrounds, culture groups. It used to frighten me a bit and I would not

understand why I was seeing all these people’s eyes.

After that Daisy vision, God showed me the eyes again. Hundreds of eyes flashed infront of

me. He said to me, these are the people you will meet and will speak of my love for them!

WOW WOW WOW!


How incredible is this God, who knows us by name, know loves us, who speaks destiny over

our lives. Who brought something from my childhood to speak into my future. He is a

brilliant, remarkable, exceptional, profound and beautiful Abba Father. No adjectives I have

can truly speak of His might, power, kindness and love. There aren’t enough words to

describe Him!


And so, the bubble of grace we asked for got even stronger and our surrender of all to God

was so tangible.


We had many mini honeymoons trying to conceive and we had such a wonderful time but

nothing happened.


We had an incredible holiday around 6 years ago where we drove through the South of

France from the boarder of Italy to the boarder of Spain staying in the most beautiful places.

We started to dream again for us as a couple and as individuals. We dedicated one morning

a week to simply sit with God individually and allow Him to speak into our dreams. I had a

dream notebook and I asked God to remind me of the many things He had put in me and is

birthing in me. It was such a refreshing season. Matt would encourage me to produce! Not

only to dream big with God, but to do something about it. Even with our health, we became

more aware of what we ate and we just lead a healthier lifestyle. We lost weight and got off

sugar, which I truly believe was part of God’s plan to restore not only our heart’s desires but

our bodies and give us a new lease of life.


A friend of mine in ministry mentioned IVF to me in my late 30’s. She asked me, what if you

regret not trying IVF? That stayed with me and when I turned 40 I thought to myself, I need

to try IVF as we are not conceiving naturally and I don’t want to regret never trying this

avenue. And so, I told God, Lord, if you are in it, I need joy, I need to laugh about it and it

just has to feel right.


Matt and I were like children, the meeting with the doctor, the clinic itself, we just took it so

lightly. Some aspects of the whole process were so surreal, we’d laugh about the process.

The clinic was right next to our house then, so I could go every day to the clinic for my

injections. I laughed with the nurses, I prayed for some, I joked around. Everyone thought I

was from another planet. I was actually from another Kingdom!


It was easy, I felt God’s grace and the whole experience was special. I worshipped more,

prayed more and our time as a couple was so special. The good thing about the IVF clinic is

that they did full tests on us both and found that there was absolutely nothing wrong with

us both. That actually gave us so much courage and so much hope. The nurses and doctors

would say that we were an easy case and it would be easy to conceive. But I remember the

main doctor told me, ultimately, we do everything we can that we know through science

but it is ultimately up to God for things to work out.


We prayed for the right number of eggs to be fertilised as whatever was alive will remain in

me. We refused any procedures that would go against our faith in God, like determining the

gender etc. And so, the whole process was quick, easy and it seemed like a positive outcome

would come out of it. We were so hopeful.

The day came to see if I was pregnant after so many more injections and unfortunately

there was no pregnancy. The doctor told me, it does not always work, it might be my age

and I should keep trying.


I left that place grieving, despondent, hurt and feeling let down. I said to God, why did you

make it so easy? I thought this is how you would fulfill your promise? I cried for a whole day

and I felt incredible pain in my womb due to the many hormones they had pumped in me.

But God is so gracious and Matt is an incredible friend and husband. I wiped my tears, I

thanked him for His goodness and I chose life. I chose to believe and to accept that this was

not going to be the way, that He had a better way.


A few friends who we had asked to pray with us during that process, felt to say to us later

that they felt this was not going to be the way God would take His glory.


We had thought of adoption but never a release, tried to conceive naturally but it was not

happening and now IVF was another avenue that we tried but it did not work. I felt and still

feel all these three ways can only be possible through God! He ordains the time for your

miracle. Never underestimate Him and His ways. His way and His timing are always perfect!

Fast forward a year on, the seed of having another IVF was still in my heart and mind and so

I asked Matt, how about we use more of our savings and do another IVF. The doctor said I

was a bit old and I needed to do it a few times. Matt said to me, no! Let us instead spend

that money and go for a long road trip to America and enjoy ourselves!


And so, we booked a one-month holiday and off we went to America in June 2016. Matt did

the most exciting road trip plan and we jokingly called it, wait for it, yes…” THE CONCEPTION

TOUR”!


Wonderful friends called Tom and Una Tapping told us this years ago, God’s eleventh

commandment is THOU SHALT HAVE FUN! And truly this is and remains one of the values of

our relationship, have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously!


Our trip was going to be a visit to New York and Washington DC then a flight to the West

Coast for a lovely road trip across California then long drives to visit the Grand Canyon

through Las Vegas and another trip to visit Yosemite. Our plan was to end our trip in

Redding attending a conference at Bethel church and then to make our way back to Abu

Dhabi via New York.


We think we conceived either on the first day or second day of our holiday in New York!

After walking for ten hours from Harlem to Central park and back followed by some great

Italian meatballs and a stage show! Had to include these details for the fun of it.

I had always asked God to reveal to me when I would be pregnant. I just had so many

disappointments and false alarms that I just needed to know. So, in the middle of our trip

we were at the Grand Canyon. We visited the Canyon at sunset on the first day and then

woke up early for a sunrise experience. It was only us at the site and a German couple with

their little boy whose first birthday was on that same day.


They left and Matt was taking pictures at one corner and I just raised my hands, worshiped

God and closed my eyes as the sun was just rising. As the sun hit my eyes I saw in my mind’s

eye an embryo in my left eye with a heart beating. I jumped. Is this you Lord, I said? Could

this be it? I did not share it with Matt. I just did not want him to be disappointment again. I

just had to wait to make sure.


We continued with our journey and did amazing things, met wonderful people and were

finally heading to Bethel for their in-house Kingdom Culture conference in Redding,

California.


Matt was teasing me throughout the trip with funny things but for some reason, he hit a

nerve that made me so angry that I actually slapped him in the face! Just to clarify, I have

never slapped Matt in the face and this is so not my nature. Matt was of course taken aback

and thought to himself, okay, this is new, could she be pregnant?


At the conference, they share a video testimony of one of their worship leaders who could

not have children for 13 years and then conceived. She shared her journey and her victory

story. Paul Manwaring, who was then leading the meeting, said after the video that he

would like to pray in faith for couples who are struggling to conceive. Around a dozen

couples stood up and as he was praying, he said, I feel some of you here are pregnant but

you just don’t know it. Matt just grabbed that from heaven. He cried out to God in his heart

and he said, God I want this for us.


We had a fantastic time in Bethel and after a full week of God encounters and new

friendships forged, we started our journey back to New York.


In New York, Matt had booked the Waldorf Estoria as our final treat for the last night before

we flew back home. By chance, the hotel was sold and was in operations for the last two

weeks before all the renovations started. So, for an affordable amount, they upgraded us to

suite. That day we went walking around the hotel area and I told Matt that I had missed my

period and was feeling a bit strange and so would love to take a pregnancy test. We bought

the test and I headed to the hotel room while Matt went for a walk.


As he was walking down the avenue he saw a taxi with an advertisement on top of the car

for citi bank saying “Make it Here”. He felt this was a prophetic promise from God.

Meanwhile I have done the test and was waiting for the results and saw the pregnancy line!

I was so excited but did another test! And again, it showed I was pregnant! I was so full of

joy!


Matt arrives to the hotel and as he walks by the gates he sees the Wardolf Estoria’s logo

where under it the tag line was written “Where Stories Start Here”. That was Matt’s second

confirmation from the Holy Spirit that this was happening. He knocks the door of our room

and as I open it my face and tears are enough. We embrace and sit down and pray together,

thanking God for His goodness and His loving kindness.


We were so keen to involve people from the beginning to pray for our baby and so we let

everyone know that we are pregnant and in faith we were not afraid of a miscarriage but

were trusting God for a perfect child.


Our little boy James is now 3 years old and is just a joy and a delight. He has travelled to 15

countries, loves maps, nations, trying different food, art, sport, reading books, music and

building things. He is one of the most beautiful people I have ever met. He is truly a sign and

a wonder and now I know why it took God a long time to bring him to this world.


God redeemed the time. I am 44 and Matt is 53 years old. We have always dreamt for our

lives and we dream big with God all the time but with this boy in our lives, we dream even

bigger.


We serve such a generous, kind and loving God. His timing is perfect, His promises are yes

and amen and He will do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine (Eph 3:20). Keep

the faith, don’t give up, speak life and continue to trust Him for His perfect plan for your life.

We are trusting for Jasmine Joy still!