3 Reasons Why Women Are Valuable to the Church

This week, as our Tuesday morning moms Bible study gathered around the couches in our church’s loft to discuss our video session, the Lord spoke to my heart in a way that I wasn’t expecting. As I listened to my friends share how God was working in their life, I was so encouraged. Many of them play an active role in their churches and our community and I thought to myself:

Women are valuable to the church. All women – wives, young moms, moms of teens, moms of grown adults, single women, working women, working moms, elderly women, widowed women, young women, tweens, teens, and college-aged women. Each of us has a distinct role to play in ministering to the church body, all of which are different, none of which are better than another.

We all know the woman who can make Butterfinger cookie dough cheesecake bars like nobody’s business, the woman who’d come to your aid within minutes to offer a helping hand, the woman who eloquently speaks the truth in love, the woman who has rockstar teaching abilities, the woman who makes the cutest crafts for kids church, and the woman who brews the coffee every Sunday morning (because you know without some caffeine, there will be grumpy church goers).

We’ve all been given gifts for the building up of each other. And without each body part functioning together, we’d be missing an eye, an ear, a nose, a toe, and it would be quite dysfunctional. There are many reasons women are valuable and precious to the church, but here are three ways:

1.) Women are valuable to the church because God says so.

God created male and female and he blessed them (Genesis 5:2.). God saw all that he had made and it was very good. He sees us as his beautiful masterpiece. In fact, we were created in his image. We are equal in value to men, but are distinct in our roles and responsibilities.

God has specific jobs for you and without your service the work would be incomplete and insufficient. He knew what he was doing when he created you! When you serve, you serve unto the Lord, and what you bring to the table is unique and necessary for God’s kingdom to be built. You are valuable to God and he sees your work as worthy.

Jeremiah 31:3 says, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” You are of great worth in Jesus’ sight and that was proven through his shed blood on the cross. You were bought at a high price.

2.) Women are valuable to the church for the training and encouragement of younger women.

These verses have always been an encouragement to me because I don’t know about you, but I feel like I often need guidance and training on how to be a better wife, mom, daughter, sister, and friend. God knows what he’s doing when he commands older women to teach the younger women on how to live in the four corners of their homes. I also recognize the value I bring to younger women through my life experiences and shortcomings.

Older women are valuable for mentoring younger women in the ways of God. They’ve traveled the journey of life longer and can provide much-needed wisdom and insight that no one else can. They encourage, edify, rebuke, and counsel other women away from sin and into a life that is pleasing to God. I honor the relationships with older women in my life. They have “been there and done that!” which helps me persevere.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.  – Titus 2:3-5

3.) Women are valuable to the church in building relationships with those far from God. 

Within the church, we should always be thinking about the next ten people that walk through our doors that have yet to find the hope that is in Jesus. Because women are typically natural at connecting and building relationships, we have amazing opportunities to reach those far from God.

I have one mom friend who can connect you with whatever person you need to get the job done. Financial planner? She knows one. Plumber? She’s got one. Photographer? Yep. Pediatrician? Of course. Best massage? Indeed. A certain kind of church you’re looking for? She can describe it and get you plugged in with a friend already there. If you’re moving to a new city, she knows someone there who’d probably become your best friend. She is gifted in connecting people to their real needs.

Sometimes we overlook the beauty of how God has hard-wired us for relationships. In fact, relationships are really where it all begins in ministering to others. A simple call, text, or invite of “Would you like to come to church with me? Would you like to meet for coffee?” can have a significant impact on someone eventually coming to know Jesus as their Savior.

The work you’re doing in the daily grind is not in vain: Scheduling nursery volunteers, serving in AWANA, counseling a friend in crisis, preparing meals, leading music from the stage, visitations, facilitating a small group, teaching children God’s Word, working with youth, writing devotionals, designing powerpoint slides, organizing outreach events, greeting others at the door, getting the prayer chain going, marketing activities through social media, and more are all significant ministries that keep the church moving forward and touching lives.

God sees your efforts, sacrifices, and even the messiness that comes with the territory in working with people. He’s using you to reach others in ways you may not even realize and without you, a critical part of the body would be missing.

Never forget how valuable you are to Christ’s bride, whom he loves and gave himself up for. Now, go and live like it!

There are many other reasons why women are valuable to the church. How has the life of another woman made a difference in your life? How does she add value to the ministry?

* Feel free to share this post and tag her in it! *

 

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mama to 4. She is the author of the new devotional for moms: Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches.

 

 

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Orlando, Radical Faith, & Surrendering Fear

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I heard the news of the Orlando massacre after church on Sunday. My kids were playing in our living room and I was crouched over our kitchen countertop in disbelief as I scrolled through Facebook. Is this real? I thought. Terrorism had once again revealed its evil and ugliness in all its forms.

My seven year old was next to me and I kept the news to myself while he played with his rescue bots. Soon enough, John would begin to understand the evil in our world and I didn’t feel it was appropriate to share what I had just learned so I stayed silent, praying for the innocent victims and the horrors of radical Islam. I looked in his brown eyes and thought about his innocent heart.

I began to think about the battle we are engaged in as Christ-followers. It is a spiritual one indeed. Just as Satan disguised himself in the garden and many times throughout Scripture, I believe he too is disguising himself under the name of radical Islam. The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus says that He has come to bring us life – abundant life to the fullest. I’m well aware from my Islamic Doctrine class in seminary that these radicals are out to kill everyone – no matter if they’re gay, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and more. I’m well aware that they want to take over the world.

We need to get serious as a nation about the battle being a spiritual one.

Naturally, fears race through my mind and reading Fox News and CNN doesn’t help. The news fuels my fears. What if terrorism continues to increase in America? What about the safety of my children, family, and friends? What if we continue to have spineless leadership in our nation that is unwilling to call it what it is?

Fears plague my heart if I do not surrender them to Jesus. Ironically, I have been reading the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer as I was encouraged recently to begin reading biographies. As a German theologian and pastor during the rise of the Nazi’s, Dietrich had much to fear yet in his story, he revealed how the only thing we really should be fearing is God – our Creator.

Bonhoeffer stood up for biblical principles in a time when even the German “Christians” believed in wiping out the Jewish race. He knew that God created all person’s equal. After eventually joining the resistance movement against the wickedness in his day, he was imprisoned and hung.

His faith remained unshakable and radical. He knew that his faith in Jesus was worth dying for. He knew that the only thing in life worth fearing is God. And that God would take care of him until death.

Bonhoeffer’s story is nothing short of inspiring as he clung to his faith in the midst of the horrors of the Nazi regime. It is nothing short of supernatural. Right now in America, we are facing all kinds of other forms of evil invading our land. We too, have the choice to remain steadfast and unmovable in our faith or to cower in fear.

It is in this time that it is tempting to doubt God and his plans. It is tempting to doubt his love for us. For me, it is just tempting to fear continually, on a daily basis if I let the nightmares get to my heart. But I know that Jesus’ perfect love casts out fear and like Bonhoeffer revealed, the only one I truly need to fear is my God – who has the ultimate authority over my life and death.

It is also in these times that prayer is vital. When we feel like all is lost and forsaken, we need to get our knees dirty and shake the dust off our Bibles. We need to be busy in God’s will because the days are short. We need to exchange our fear, worry, and anxiety with trust, peace, and hope in Jesus – the One who will one day, make all things right.

As I look into my girls’ blue eyes and my boys’ brown eyes, I see hope, joy, peace, and a contagious child-like faith. And I certainly need more of what they have.

The hands that hold the world are holding your heart
This is the promise He made, He will be with you always
When everything is falling apart, you will be safe in His arms. – Phil Wickham

A Wife & Mother’s Response to Target’s New Bathroom Policy

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waiting for Target’s doors to open – 2013

This blog is about marriage, motherhood, and faith. I prefer to stay out of politics and cultural affairs, but in light of recent news regarding Target’s new bathroom policy allowing transgender guests to use restrooms that correspond with their gender identity, I cannot stay silent.

I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t like jumping on the bandwagon of being just another blog post that has something to say. I’m just an ordinary mom with a husband and four children living in a small town. I’m an imperfect sinner saved by grace. I believe in being a light in this dark world and submitting to governing authorities. I believe love covers a multitude of sins – not hate and judgment or attack. I love and respect those with different values.

With that being said, for as long as I’ve been a momma, I have loved me some Target. I can count many a mornings rolling into their parking lot with my stressed-out self, toting four children to the doors, and strapping them tightly into the red kids cart. My first priority being a chai tea latte with a shot of espresso. Target even thought of the cart cupholder. Genius.

Cleaning supplies, adorable kids clothes, jewelry, groceries, cards, toys, a new pair of sunglasses. You name it and I’ve bought it.

While we don’t live in the city anymore and don’t have immediate access to one, Target is still dear to me. I look forward to making the 2 1/2 hour trip to get my hands on one and the Chick-fil-a next to it. Target’s not just another retail giant in my eyes, but it’s a place of refuge, fun, and sanity.

With their recent news, I’m at a loss as to what to do as are many other moms I’ve talked to. I’m saddened. I understand the argument, “Why are we surprised? This is where our culture is headed. The church hasn’t been standing up for truth. Why should we expect the world to have Christian standards?…”  I’m not surprised, either. I am in shock! Do I still shop at Target and just not use the restrooms? (that’s impossible with young kids). Do I pray they will change their policy (yes!) Do I boycott and give someone else the business I would give Target? (I’d rather not).

I know Target doesn’t uphold to biblical standards so I wouldn’t expect them to but still… This policy feels like a dangerous, slippery slope where the line has been crossed.

My main concern is for women and children. Target’s policy will be taken advantage of – it already has in other bathrooms across the country according to news outlets. Three days ago the AFA wrote in Sign the Boycott Target Pledge!,

Target’s policy is exactly how sexual predators get access to their victims. And with Target publicly boasting that men can enter women’s bathrooms, where do you think predators are going to go?

It’s not just about being inclusive and welcoming everyone. We know all too well the depravity of the human heart. As parents, we have a great responsibility to protect our children from harm – physical, emotional, and sexual. That has always been our responsibility no matter if we’re in a bathroom stall or at home.

Because Target is the first retail domino to fall, there is an opportunity to send a sound and clear message to all retailers that this America where men are allowed into women’s restrooms and vice versa is not the America we desire. If those who are for privacy and safety in the restrooms are the majority, then that majority must speak out or its voice will be deafened by the silence. Let retailers who stand in favor of public safety and privacy for our children know that we appreciate them and will patronize their efforts on our behalf.

I’ve decided to shop elsewhere in hopes that other retailers won’t follow suit and assume this is what consumers want. Of course that makes this mama-Target-loving heart sad, but I will continue to leave what makes me angry and upset in God’s hands and ask for his help to navigate the ever-changing tides in our culture.

What to do With Miley

credit: eonline.com

photo credit: eonline.com

You’ve probably heard about Miley Cyrus’s performance last night at MTV’s VMAs. I didn’t watch the VMAs but I saw a clip on CNN and that was enough to know why everyone is shocked. My jaw definitely dropped. This morning I was debating about tweeting, “Mommas and Daddy’s: Don’t let your babies grow up to be like Miley.”

Then I thought long and hard about those words and I chose not to tweet them. I needed to shut my mouth and pray for her and really look beyond the show of it all and see the obvious brokenness. My heart grew sad for her because God wants so much more for her life.

Author and blogger Annie Downs wrote today:

While today’s headlines are tearing her [Miley] to shreds, we as Christians HAVE to sound different than the world. We HAVE to yell a different chant in her direction about how God made her on purpose and how she is valuable because of WHO she is, not WHAT she does. I’m not saying we ignore the influence she is having, but if we want to help her [and that is the question titling this post after all], then we have to look at her with eyes of compassion and have our words sound from there.

Eyes of compassion is definitely something I need because I’m initially judgmental and angry over things like this. I mean, rightfully so, right? But then I have to remember what God has saved me from and is saving me from. I’m no different than Miley, just a sinner saved by grace. And I sure need compassion from others every day.

My brokenness might not be manifested on a stage for all the world to see, but God sure knows my sins, struggles, and areas where I have yet to be Christ-like in. And the Lord knows that without him, I am a mess. I constantly need his forgiveness and grace.

I pray that Miley will come to know Jesus. I pray that Christians will extend unconditional love to her and help bring her to the One who can heal her brokenness.

7 Years of Marriage, Newtown & Faith for the Future

Well today marks seven years that I’ve been married to my husband Jeremiah. It’s crazy how much life can change in just seven years and honestly it really doesn’t feel like that many years have passed by.

I’m grateful for the gift of marriage. God continues to use marriage to sanctify me, show me my sin, and teach me selflessness. Daily, I’m humbled that God gave me such a loving, hard-working, godly, selfless leader to follow, who I proudly call my husband. Just like any other couple, we’ve had our share of struggles and trials but God has been faithful through every step and we give him glory for all that he has done.

We are committed to one another till death do us part and we will continue to do what it takes to keep our marriage from merely surviving to thriving. And we have learned over seven years that this is hard work.

Just last night, we were watching the CNN vigil for the community of Newtown, Connecticut. We heard President Obama’s thoughtful speech and watched the slideshow of photos of the children and adults whose lives were taken from this world on Friday.

And I wept in Jeremiah’s arms. Tears were all I had. Tears for those precious children and for our nation as a whole. I thanked God that I had someone to grieve with. My heart ached and I longed for Jesus’ return. I asked the “why’s?” and dealt with the anger.

And today, on our anniversary, that ache is still very present. I’m celebrating these past years with my husband but I’m also praying that God would heal our nation and comfort grieving Newtown. I’m praying that the next seven years Jeremiah and I will have a fervency in our faith like we’ve never had before.

There is work to be done and it starts with us. It starts with the church, whom God uses as a means to bring light into the darkness. And I have needed this wake-up call out of mediocrity and waiting for others to start the conversation.

I want to love louder and unashamedly share the gospel.

There is no other choice and as Obama had said in that speech, “we can do better” as a nation. But I also know that the church can do better too and that it starts with me.

My prayer is that the next seven years will be less about “us and our marriage” and more about Christ and his kingdom and how he can use us to make a difference. Time is running out in reaching this world with the hope that is found in Christ.

And I think more than anything that is where the real ache inside me is coming from.

Until then I hope you will join me and take a look at your own faith and life and how God might use your time, talent, and treasure to make an impact in this world. I promise to do my best to encourage and spur you on as we seek God’s will together as broken, feeble people yet nonetheless people who have been radically changed by Christ.

What I Wanted to Tell a Young Woman Wanting an Abortion

Yesterday my four year old John, four month old Hannah, and I waited at the doctor’s office for their check up appointments. While we waited to be called, a tall, red-headed woman in her 50s marches out of the exit door and into the waiting room where her husband is sitting.

This woman isn’t happy with the news she’s received. The elderly couple sitting in front of me is looking at her as well. She storms over to her husband and plops down next to him. She’s mouthing off words to him and I can’t help but listen. They’re sitting just a few feet away from us.

“I told you!” she quietly yells. “I knew it and you didn’t listen!”

His eyes grow wide and he looks distraught.

“She’s 20 weeks along. She’s measuring 20 weeks! This must have happened right after her miscarriage. She had talked about how she’s been feeling so bloated!”

My eyes grew wide and I listened intently. Hannah is fussy so I stand up and bounce her around.

The young woman who is most likely her daughter had been pregnant before, I thought.

“She wants to have an abortion but she can’t at 20 weeks! No doctor will allow for that. She’s in there crying and I told her we’d be out here waiting.”

The husband says a bunch of words back but they are muffled and I can’t understand him.

“I told her she has two options. Keep the baby or give it away!” the wife said. “She’s too far along.”

The conversation was getting more heated. I wanted so badly to make my way over to them and offer some counsel and I was just about ready to.

The husband kept shaking his head and looking down at the floor.

“She needs to know she has support all around her,” the wife said. “Alright, Let’s take this outside. We don’t need to be talking about this in here.”

They headed outside and I was still trying to gather all that I was hearing.

Their daughter would eventually make her way out the exit door. I formulated a plan in my head as to the words of encouragement I wanted to to tell this young woman. My heart was racing and everything in the room felt like it was in slow motion.

I imagined what she looked like and if I’d be able to see her baby bump. I waited and watched the door swing open as people walked out and the assistant called in new patients.

I was ready to speak truth into her heart. What if God had placed me there in that exact moment for a reason? Legally she had to keep the baby but she seemed so insistent and you just never know.

A nurse opened the door to the office: “Hannah?” She called out. “Hannah?”

I stood up and picked up our belongings and we headed through the door and down the hallway to our room. Time had run out and I didn’t get to see her. My heart was still racing thinking about what happened.

Most likely the parents of this young woman were okay with an abortion up to a certain point. They were outraged that their daughter was further along than expected. Of course the mom claimed she knew all along.

In addition to the anger and sadness I felt, my heart broke for this family and young woman. I had never witnessed a conversation like that. Obviously I didn’t know the whole story- only what I heard in the dialogue. The opportunity didn’t exist for me to reach out to her and even if it did, there’s no guarantee the young woman would’ve been willing to listen.

But if I had the chance to pull her aside and whisper a few words to her, I would have said:

God knows all about this. And he cares. He really, really does.

If abortions have been in your past, God knows about those too. There is no sin too great for God to forgive. He still loves you and is calling you to do what is best for the baby and for you. And what is best is allowing your unborn baby the chance to live. 

The act of an abortion will not heal or fix any hurt or pain or problems. From women I know personally who’ve had abortions, they’ve said the emotional, spiritual, and sometimes physical pain is devastating and something you never forget.

You’re not alone. Other women have been in your shoes and are in the same situation. Even Christian women.

If inconvenience or fear is the reason, God has a way of working out things for the good. Trust him. Go beyond your personal desires and wishes and think about God’s plan for your baby. Think about your baby’s dreams. 

If finances, your career, the responsibility of raising a child on your own are all concerns, don’t allow your fears and worries cast a shadow on the present reality and the joys and blessings that the future could hold. God has a way of providing when we trust him.

If you fear shame among your friends and family and what people will think, don’t live to please other people. Do what is right and true.

There is no feeling in the world like holding your newborn baby for the very first time. The love you’ll have for him is indescribable. You won’t understand it until he is here. Looking into his beautiful eyes, smelling and touching his soft skin, kissing his cheeks, rocking and cuddling him, singing to him, nursing him on your breasts, and watching him grow up to be the man God created him to be brings no greater joy.

When you choose to give your baby life, I promise you there will be challenges and hardships but you’ll be okay. God will give you the strength to endure and carry on. 

If you still feel you cannot handle the responsibility, you can always give your baby up for adoption. There are plenty of wonderful families who can raise your child and give them a loving home. 

Your Creator God, who created you, values and treasures all human life. He loves you so much that he died on the cross and rose again so that you could have life. Remember that He has a way of redeeming and healing the most difficult situations. He turns ashes into beauty if you will only ask him. 

Choose life. I beg you. Choose Life.

Well during the remaining time at the doctor’s office I never ran into the young woman. But God used the experience to teach me a lot. As a woman who follows Jesus Christ, I’ve been encouraged to speak up for the innocent and vulnerable, who cannot speak for themselves. I’ve become more aware of the beauty and life around me and the precious lives of my own children and family and friends. And I will not be silent or negligent to pray for those women at such a crossroad in life.

Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name. – Isaiah 49:1

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.  – Psalm 139-13-18

The Necessity to Shine {when this world drives you crazy}

I was reading a friend’s status update a few days ago about one of her neighbors. She was in her alley (most Texas homes have back alleys) and out of nowhere she heard a man screaming at the top of his lungs:

“I hate this world!!!”

She couldn’t believe it and asked her friends to pray for this man. Obviously, bitterness and hatred were brewing in his heart toward someone or something.

I’ve had days where I’ve seen a darkness and insensitivity in this world from people who have no regard for one another. Co-workers who slander and devour each other, nasty people in checkout lines, off-the-wall thinking, critical and judgmental people, all around negativity from people across the board, and more.

I’ve had days where people have really gotten to me and the world seems like a depressing place to live. Sometimes random and unexpected situations have happened that have affected my attitude. I think to myself:

The only hope in this mean and crazy world is Jesus. What do people do who don’t have that hope? I would go crazy without it.

And it’s not too long after that I’m reminded of who I am in Christ and what I’ve been sent on this earth to do as his disciple. He reminds me that indeed, this world can be a dark, cold and lonely place but there is a solution to the darkness.

Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” – Matt. 5:14-16

My natural inclination is to run and hide from darkness and not confront it, especially if I have been hurt by someone else’s sin. But how will my light shine if I don’t forgive and genuinely love that person who’s so incredibly unlovable? How will they hear about God’s forgiveness and healing if I don’t tell them?

If “hurting people hurt people” as the saying goes, then there’s got to be a reason behind every offense. How will my light shine if I return evil for evil? It won’t. My light will shine when I choose to love and let God help me overcome the darkness.

When God’s light shines through us, people can’t help but notice something different. They can’t help but want to know what makes us love rather than hate. They want to know what gives us hope. Love is how people will come to know and understand that the Lord is real and active in the world today.

The man who screamed out in the alley is a picture of how many people feel. They harbor pain and they feel hopeless. These are the people God wants us to seek out and shine our light to. There is no plan B.

And no matter how dark the world continues to get, we are still the light of the world.

Do you find it difficult to shine and show love among the darkness? 

Getting off the Island

If there is anything I’ve learned over the past few years in my journey of faith, it’s that knowing others and being known is absolutely essential as a follower of Christ.

Knowing others in the sense that I know what makes a person tick, their passions, hurts, habits, sin struggles, fears, joys, quirks, flaws, victories, achievements, and more.

Being known in the sense that those close to me know really know me- my insecurities, fears, sin struggles, passions, worries, victories, issues, dreams, and more. And they still accept, love, and spur me on without rejecting those weaknesses or rejecting me alltogether.

I’ve seen this lived out among my community group at church. My husband and I have done life with our group for four years now. The girls in our group- Julia, Jen, Ashley, and Ashley- have seen most of what there is to know about me. The good, bad, and ugly!

Over the years a trust has been built among us. Because authentic community is stressed so much at our church, we’ve been accountable to that and have lived by that standard even when it’s difficult. It’s been life-changing and life-giving for each of us.

John Donne penned the famous quote, “No man is an island.”

I know this, yet my pride often keeps me in isolation and from wanting to be fully known by others. I’d rather hide my weaknesses or do life on my own apart from anyone’s help. I’d prefer they not see any “yuckiness.” But God knows what happens when I’m left to deal with life by myself- it’s never good.

God created us to live in authentic community with other believers, where we are fully known and accepted. Yet where our friends won’t allow us to remain where we are.

We were created to step out of the shallow pool water and plunge into the depths of the ocean. There is no other way to do life.

Will you join me?

The Joy of Being on Mission- Letting God Use You Wherever You Go

On Sunday, God answered a prayer I began praying two years ago for a young woman named *Allison.

Two years ago I was deeply stirred and convicted that I can be salt and light wherever I go: at the grocery store, the park, the mall, Chick-fil-a, wherever… There were people all around me that desperately needed to hear the hope of the gospel. I knew I needed to start being more intentional with people and stop making excuses.

I started thinking about the people in my path on a regular basis and Allison instantly came to mind. She was one of the sitters at our gym’s childcare. I saw her consistently and she had a great affection for my son John. He loved seeing her too. From the moment I met Allison, I got this feeling that she had pain in her life. There was something in her eyes and in the way she carried herself that said it. I felt like God wanted to use me, by his grace, to show her love when I had the opportunity.

On the days I dropped my son off at the gym, I would engage with her by asking about her day and about herself. One day I made banana bread for her and the staff there. I knew simple facts that she had a daughter and lived nearby but that was it. Our time was often cut short with me having to round up the kids.

There were days I got so frustrated because the right timing hadn’t come for me to share Christ with her or invite her to church. But somehow I would always go back to the fact that all I needed to focus on was building a friendship with her and showing Christ’s love. So that’s what I did over a span of two years.

Well about a month ago, I called to set up a childcare appointment and our conversation naturally flowed into me asking if she’d like to come to church with our family. To my amazement, she said she’d love to and we planned to meet in the morning. But morning came and she had to cancel. I was a little upset because I was so excited about it. The next Sunday we had planned to meet again, but her daughter ended up getting sick and my kids got sick too.

I grew discouraged thinking she’d never make it to church with us. I wondered if God really would make it happen. Then out of the blue and not in my timing at all, on our flight home from VA Beach this past Saturday, Allison texted me saying she wanted to join us for church. I was a little doubtful it would happen especially because we weren’t even sure we were going after a long day of traveling, but I trusted the Lord and we planned a time.

I texted her that morning to see if she thought it would work and she was ready to go! We met and she followed us in our van. When we arrived, Jeremiah took the kids and checked them in and I helped her check in her daughter. This was her daughter’s first time to church and she was so excited. When it was time for worship, we got our coffee and seats and the music played. We all stood to sing. I glanced over at Allison and she was blotting her eyes with tissue. She told me midway through how much she loved the songs.

When our young adult pastor, JP, gave the message, I felt like it was one of the best sermons I had ever heard. It was on being a light that shines bright among the darkness and the gospel was clearly presented.

After the service, Allison told me she loved it and wanted to come back next week. Her daughter also loved her class. We went out to lunch after, along with a couple in our community group and Jeremiah’s sister. Amidst the craziness of kids at the table, we learned a little more about her. She felt the freedom to share that she was adopted and her adopted dad died when she was a little girl. Several years ago she was in a very bad relationship, where she was beaten and the man killed the 8 month old baby in her womb.

I had never heard anything so tragic and I was amazed by all that she had gone through and that was only a small part of her story. Allison had experienced tremendous loss. But I was so encouraged that she heard the true gospel and she desired to come back to church. She experienced love from the body of Christ and I believe she knows that Jesus can heal her of all those hurts. I am praying for more opportunities to follow up with her and continue to encourage her toward a relationship with Christ.

As I write this, my eyes fill with tears because God is intervening in Allison’s life. While she may not fully know it yet, I believe it’s clear that he is working. We serve a God who cares deeply for people’s hurts and that they would be reconciled back to Him. We serve a God who wants to use us in every day life as we yield to His Spirit while we’re on mission for Him.

I look forward to seeing what God does with Allison’s life in the future. I’ll be sure to update you.

* name changed to protect privacy

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