Have you ever had your heart inexplicably tied to someone or something that you can’t hardly explain it? I have. In fact I currently do. Indulge me if you will on a little journey.
Several years ago, our family began attending a new church. We showed up, with much trepidation, because anything new is always a little bit scary, but because for some reason church seemed especially so. We carried with us quite a bit of hurt from a previous church, which led to several years of only sporadic attendance and very limited community. We were still licking our wounds. None of this is especially unique, as sadly that story has been repeated to me through others’ experiences more times than I can count. What perhaps made this step unique is that we drove an hour from our hometown to attend this church. Why? I have no real answer to that other than….God. We’d had several people over the last few years mention this church to us and we completely blew off the idea of driving an hour to go. Yet, here we were. We had packed up our family of 8 and driven an hour to go to church.
The first couple of times, we kept all of our kids with us in the service. After having been there a few times and feeling like we got the “lay of the land” so to speak, we took our kids to the nursery and children’s church areas. It was here that we made a connection with this person that is now so incredibly near and dear to me. Her name was Jennifer and she was one of the teachers of the 4 & 5 year old class. Our fourth child had been born shortly after we left the church I had grown up in. For all intents and purposes, she had not really attended church. Needless to say, a new environment with kids she didn’t know, and a place she had only been a few times was uncertain to her. But Miss Jenn….she crouched down in front of my girl, scooped her into a hug and told her they were going to have a great time. And with that, she was off and playing with other kids.
This routine went on for a few weeks, until one day, our little girl just ran into her classroom with a wave and said “bye mom!”. She felt safe and secure, and it was in great part thanks to Miss Jenn. One week on the drive home, she began to tell us all about Jesus and how He loves her and cares for her. My heart melted on the spot, and I *knew* we had found our new church home. You see, in our hurt, we never lost sight of God. People had hurt us, not God. However, we had struggled to teach, on a level that she truly understood, that concept of God’s love to our little daughter. Miss Jenn and the rest of the amazing volunteers had connected with her in a way that we hadn’t. It was such a blessing.
Just a few short months after we began regularly attending this church, Miss Jenn and her family packed up and moved across the world to fulfill their calling of being missionaries in Zambia, Africa. We knew they were preparing for it, but we were sad nonetheless to see them go. In a short amount of time, Miss Jenn had become an integral part of our lives. We didn’t have the pleasure of getting to know the rest of her family very well in that time, but we know they were treasures as well.
Fast forward a couple of years. We have since moved our family to the city that our new church is in. No more driving an hour! We have found a sense of community here that we have never quite experienced before. Our kids are rooted in the youth and teen activities, and actively serving in various areas. It feels like HOME. As we reflect back on the past couple of years, I can’t help but look at Miss Jenn and her role in our family’s growth. Had she not taken the time to love, comfort, and reassure our little girl, would we be where we are today? It’s hard to know, and truly “what if” questions don’t really get you anywhere.
One thing I do know is that my heart is so tied to this family, a family that I hardly know. We didn’t get together for dinner, or have our kids play together. We didn’t have any interactions outside of those pick up and drop offs from children’s church on Sunday mornings. And yet. Yet I love them like they’re my own family. Because they are. They are my brothers and sisters in Christ, fulfilling HARD, HARD work He’s called them to. I follow their Instagram account and their Facebook page, rejoicing with them on the victories God is giving, and grieving when it doesn’t go as planned. Currently, they are in the midst of a crisis. Cholera (you know, that disease that we only associate with playing “Oregon Trail”) is ravaging the province of Lusaka, where Miss Jenn and her family are located. Over 2,000 people have been affected. You can read some about it here.
This morning as I read Miss Jenn’s most recent update (find that HERE) my heart broke. My heart broke as I realized just how trivial many of the things I worry about are. It broke as I could hear the exhaustion and imagine the frustration that their family and ministry partners are going through. And my heart broke because the problems that the country is facing seem so insurmountable. In the midst though, I heard a small whisper. I heard God telling me, “You can do something other than just feel sad.”
My friends, this is that something. I remembered some magnets we had made for a previous project to support the Ott family. I remembered that due to a generous donor at that time, we had printed a large amount and I had kept the extras safe, knowing a time would come that they would be needed. My friends, this is that time.
I don’t know exactly what they need, but they do. Hygiene kits? Bleach? Wet wipes? Food for the feeding program? Educational materials? I trust that they know how best to utilize any and all funds that we are able to raise for them. So I’m not going to tell you that these funds will go to “XYZ”, but I can tell you that whatever we are able to do will be useful and multiplied as they steward the resources available to them.
If you feel so led to contribute directly to their ministry you can do so through their direct link HERE. If you would like to support their ministry through the purchase of a prayer partner magnet, you can do so through the #boxbreakers store here. All items sold through the #boxbreakers store will directly benefit the Ott family and their ministry in Zambia.
Thank you friends for reading this far. Thank you for sticking with this little dream of mine, in this little corner of the internet. May your 2018 be blessed. Much love.