Two months ago I knew it was time to be quiet. My heart needed to hear Jesus. Since the beginning of the new year I have felt the winds of change ruffling my life.
I had no idea.
Change, indeed, has come. At the beginning of April, due to financial issues, the decision was made to phase out Chris’ job as assistant pastor at our church. For a time he will serve in a part time capacity, although it is unclear for how long. Having recently bought a house, and being wander weary, we have chosen to make a go at staying put. After twelve years of ministry we’ve learned that meaningful service is better accomplished in the long term, relationships take time to build, investment doesn’t happen over night. We’re not willing to walk away.
Obviously the big question is “now what?” Chris and I have had many conversations about what’s next. While perhaps the prudent thing might seem to be getting a secular job and serving in our spare time, our hearts couldn’t embrace that option. What we love best is investing in people, watching transformation take place, and in some small way partnering with God in redemption. It’s like being a midwife and seeing the miracle of life day after day, it never gets old!
God, in his God-like way, had already begun preparing our hearts and shaping a new direction in our lives before we even realized it. My friend Julie and I had begun having breathless, hope filled conversations about loving people in practical ways. When Chris lost his job it made sense for us to move forward. So, in partnership with Julie, Chris and I are taking steps to begin a non-profit called Jenna’s Hope. It will be a center for our community that offers hope, support, and education for people in need.
Our motivation is the words from Isaiah 61:1-2a:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.
In the next few months we will continue to meet with local agencies, officials, and community workers to determine partnerships and needs. We will file with the state of Alabama as a non-profit, develop curriculum, plan, secure a location for the center, and desperately seek God’s guidance.
The mission of Jenna’s Hope is to stand in the gap with the women and children of Baldwin County through education, mentoring, and support to give them hope and develop healthy, strong members of our community. It will be a place where a hopeful, wiser, better-informed generation can experience freedom, no longer living trapped in unhealthy cycles.
We plan to offer classes on parenting, healthy relationships, and life skills. We envision a community garden, basic cooking/nutrition classes, college grant assistance, budgeting and shopping help, and support groups so that people who are overwhelmed by life will know that they’re not alone. Ultimately we want to be catalysts of hope.We would like to begin offering services by the late fall, and be fully operating by the beginning of 2015.
Sounds like a huge project doesn’t it?! It is, a God sized one. Ultimately the center will be self sufficient, but it will be some time before that happens. In the meantime, as we work at getting the ministry started, we invite you to participate with us in two ways.
First, you can pray for us. Ask God to direct us, give us favor, and supply for our needs. We so value your prayer!
Second, you can partner with us financially. This is a step of faith. Your commitment of a monthly donation for the next year to help our family transition and afford start up costs will allow us to focus full-time on developing the ministry to it’s full potential.
Pastor and author Mark Labberton in his book, The Dangerous Act of Worship: Living God’s Call to Justice, writes this, “Our worship should lead us to greater mercy, to costly acts of justice, for those who are the least seen, the least remembered, the least desired.” We cannot say we love God in word or worship and ignore the needs that are around us. Will you help us fulfill God’s purposes for us in this next season as we continue to live, to worship, and to serve for His glory and His kingdom?
Many of you have already walked this long journey of ministry with us. We are beyond thankful for your love and support!