Haevanle (pronounced heavenly) Satterfield prayed for God to send her a church home in 2021. The 27-year-old single mom had gotten a New Testament from a Little Free Library box at the Cedar Hill park where she had taken her young son.
She opened the Scripture, the New Living Translation, and started reading about Jesus.
“This is nothing like the King James version,” she recalled thinking. “I could understand it.” The more she read, the more she “fell in love with Jesus.”
Baptized at age 5 in a swimming pool after a church bus ministry came to her neighborhood, Haevanle believed in God but “didn’t know the information,” although she had the desire to know more about Him. “I know what I felt,” she said. “But I didn’t know Jesus was the way, the truth, and the life.”
Childhood trauma followed her. Finally, at age 22, she felt she had “arrived,” at last able to afford her own furnished apartment. Then it all went up in smoke, literally, as kids playing with matches sparked a fire that destroyed her building, leaving her homeless.
The next several years she lived with various relatives and tried to find her moorings, co-parenting her son with his father who lives in the DFW area.
“I wasn’t living for purpose. I was living for me,” she said. But in that park, she read the Word of God and found it “beautiful.”
Life didn’t magically turn around. There were still struggles, and she started praying for a church home.
An unexpected turn
The morning of Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, the opposition seemed particularly strong.
“The enemy was on my mind terribly,” she recalled. Despairing and crying hysterically while driving on Interstate 20 to a housekeepking job in North Richland Hills, Haevanle was following her GPS—until she felt prompted to exit the freeway.
She resisted, stating that, “I was arguing with the Lord. I didn’t realize at the time it was the Lord.” Finally, she exited the freeway and turned into the parking lot at Tate Springs Baptist Church in Arlington.
“I didn’t see anybody who looked like me. I am an African American woman. I have dreadlocks. I didn’t think I would be welcomed in this part of town,” she recalled thinking. “My insecurities were prevalent.”
She sat in the car about 30 minutes and just “bawled.” She made her way toward the church entrance but paused to sit on a bench outside for 45 minutes. She texted her supervisor to explain she would be late for the job, which was okayed. At last, she mustered enough courage to approach the door and push on the intercom doorbell before scurrying away.
“Hello, can I help you?” a voice came on a loudspeaker. Haevenle couldn’t answer. “It’s OK sweetheart, I’ll send someone to you,” the voice said.
Pastoral associate Thomas McCarty came out asking how he could help.
“I don’t have any idea why I am here,” Haevanle said.
“You want to come in and we can talk about it?” McCarty asked.
That conversation changed her life. The church staffer listened to Haevanle as she poured out her fears and concerns.
“Anything the enemy had told me that morning, he knocked it down Scripture by Scripture,” she recalled of that talk with McCarty, who asked if she had a church home and assured her that Tate Springs would love to have her come.
She came on Sunday.
“That first service, I just smiled the entire time. I realized why God wanted me here. I had never felt more welcome in any church. … I never felt kingdom love like that before.”
On Nov. 14, 2021, she was baptized at church by McCarty.
Growing and blessed
Since then, Haevanle has participated in a discipleship program and Bible study. Church friends with connections at local school districts recommended her for jobs and she recently started working as a teacher’s assistant in special education at Lamar High School, the most fulfilling job she has ever had and her first salaried position.
“I’ve worked since I was 14,” she said. “But this is where I belong. It’s so wonderful,” she said, adding that students often come to her and ask questions about Jesus and heaven.
And God continues to bless.
Money was running short before Haevanle received her first school district check. Driving from Cedar Hill to Arlington for school, church, and Bible study, and then to pick up her son from his father’s house in Waxahachie, proved to be expensive.
Her Bible study leaders offered her money but, as she said,
“I didn’t want to take, take, take. I want to earn it.”
She was down to five dollars when an unexpected blessing happened. A woman followed her for miles on the freeway before pulling up alongside her at a Cedar Hill gas station.
“God told me to bless you,” the woman said after approaching Haevanle’s car and handing her a $100 bill. Not even looking at the bill’s denomination, Satterfield jumped out of her car and gave the lady a hug.
“You have no idea what you just did for me,” Haevanle exclaimed. “I had no idea how I was going to get to work tomorrow. You just touched my heart so much.” The lady reached into her purse and pressed another hundred on her.
“I haven’t done anything to deserve this,” Haevanle thought. Then she remembered: “It’s not what God is doing for me; it’s what He will do through me!”
Calling it an honor and privilege to share her story, Haevanle said of God: “When you start running for Him, He will be running to you. He wants to do what He has done for me for everyone. He wants us all to be in a relationship with Him. It’s available to everyone, not any one race or ethnicity. We are all welcome.”