APPLETON, WISCONSIN -
A mother in Wisconsin at a desperate time in her life, sends a private message on Facebook pleading for help and asking for prayer. Instead of sending the message to her friend, she mistakenly sends it to a stranger with a similar name. Her mistake is now turning into a Christmas miracle.
Amy Rickel had messaged Brian Van Boxtel, a stranger, asking for prayers. She meant to send the message to a friend with a similar name. Van Boxtel had never met or heard of Rickel... but that was not the end of the conversation.
"He was like, 'Nope! God puts us in people's lives for a reason," recalls Rickel.
After moving to Green Bay to be closer to her children's father, Rickel wound up homeless and jobless with her three children. They were living in a hotel when their money ran out and her car stopped working. They had nowhere else to go.
Rickel says she was "bawling and praying and that's when Brian messaged me."
Van Boxtel said he was coming to pay for her hotel stay. A simple question prompted him: "What would Jesus do?"
Van Boxtel convinced Rickel to set up a GoFundMe account.
That's when Kathy Schumann offered Rickel the use of her minivan, then much more.
"She really tugged at our heart strings," says Schumann. "And we just felt like this holiday season we couldn't let the kids be out in the cold and we cleared out a room and brought them home."
Chad Morack got wind of the GoFundMe too. He found out Rickel is a licensed practical nurse and connected her with a local medical recruiting office in Appleton.
"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," says Morack.
Alexandria Witkowski is the senior recruiter at TotalMed. She was impressed with Rickel's credentials and her story and says, "After that I was just, I couldn't help but continue working really hard to get her references and resume over to our clients so we could get her a full time position."
After an interview Tuesday, Rickel will start that full time LPN job January 3rd.
"Pretty amazed," says Rickel. "I still kind of find it unbelievable."
Also unbelievable-- ,none of these people were friends before. But now, they share a very close bond.
"I know that God had me in the right place at the right time and so I listened to my heart," says Van Boxtel
Rickel's now full of hope again: "It's totally restored my faith in more than just humanity, my faith in God."
From strangers to friends, unemployed and homeless to hired and housed, it all happened in just nine days... and in time for Christmas.