Ok friends. I have some big news to share with you and I am super pumped about it! This is something that has been on my heart for quite some time and something that the Lord has been stirring in my heart for a while, and I am really looking forward to seeing all that He does. The bottom line is that I'm starting a women's ministry. Keep reading if you want to know more about this ministry. :)
When I left teaching in the spring of 2016, I was all kinds of torn up inside but knew that I was taking a step of faith and obedience. In the past year and a half, God has made it clear that I am where I am supposed to be at Watkinsville First Baptist. This year will mark ten years that I have had the privilege of being a part of my sweet church family and two years that I have had the honor of being on staff. It has been an immense joy and an incredible learning experience, and I hope to be on staff there for a very long time.
While I love my job at WFBC, I was torn to leave teaching, and more specifically, Downtown Academy. Downtown Academy is a very special place, and that's putting it lightly and not really doing it justice. This school is a bright spot in the lives of children and families all throughout the Athens community. Not only do the staff at Downtown Academy provide an excellent education for inner-city kids, they also love them in ways beyond what most "normal" teachers or school staff do.
During my time at Downtown Academy, I fell in love. Yes, I met Rory during my first year teaching there, but I'm talking about another love of my life. I fell in love with the kids I had the joy of teaching, but I also fell in love with their families, especially their mamas. When conference time came, I loved getting to know the mamas of the sweet babies I had the privilege of teaching each day. Some coworkers and I often said, "You know, we should do a Bible study with the moms and spend more time with them. They're so fun!" We had good intentions but no plan to back it up, and you know what they say about good intentions.
Fast forward to when I knew I would be leaving the school to work at WFBC, and I kept saying to Rory, "I love this ministry so much. I know we will always be a part of it and I want to be a part of it in some way for as long as we live in Athens." The burden on my heart for the mamas just continued to grow, and it never really went away.
Fast forward again to fall 2017. One evening, I went to a Lifeway Bible journaling event with some girls from our small group, and we met an incredible lady there who would change my life! The lady who taught us to use craft materials to meet with the Lord through Bible journaling "just so happens" to have a ministry in Monroe where she works with women who live in a mobile home park. She does Bible study with them but also works with them on job and life skills to help them find freedom and independence. Once I heard her share about it, I just knew I had to know more. She told me that her ministry is a local site of a national organization called Christian Women's Job Corps and that anyone can start one. Well, my interest was piqued to say the least!
I came home that night and told Rory, "This is it. This is the answer to my prayers. This is what we will do with the mamas at DTA." I pretty much stalked Ms. Pam and found her email online, and we met a couple days later at a McDonald's and talked for almost two hours. It "just so happens" that there was a national training just six weeks later in Dallas, TX. I went to my old boss at Downtown Academy, and he said, "You know, this may be just what we have been praying for. We want to serve the whole family." That was all the confirmation I needed to fan the flame that was burning within my heart. I took a couple weeks to continue to do research, learn all that I could about the organization, read, and then went to my bosses at work to ask about their insight. They loved the idea and were so encouraged by the foundation already laid by the 20 years that CWJC has been active throughout the United States.
Friends, after that initial meeting with my bosses, I was on a plane about a month later to Dallas, TX. I spent the week learning about everything there is to know about CWJC and then some. I confess to you that it was incredibly overwhelming and at times exhausting. There is so much to learn, and I've got a lot of work ahead of me. But wow am I excited.
After returning home, I had a lot of processing to do, and things got busy as I fell back into the routine of life here (and got overwhelmed by the big task ahead of me!). But in the next couple months, I was able to speak with our executive director of Downtown Ministries and then with the board of directors, who then took it to the leadership at Redeemer Presbyterian Church (where Downtown Academy meets) and it was officially approved!
So. I know that was A LOT. But the non-negotiable of any CWJC site are this: Bible study and a relationship with a journey partner who can encourage you along the way. The vision is to see women helping women and finding freedom through the power of God's word and transformational friendships. I could not be more excited.
The launch date is January 2019, and I am working to take all the steps necessary to check all the boxes that have to be checked before then. If you want to be a part of my prayer team for this ministry, please let me know! I need people who are willing to pray for the ministry.
I am continuing to work to meet with people and share the vision of CWJC with them. My goal is to have the advisory council members in place within the next couple months and to be able to use the summer months to complete the needs assessment of our community and make a plan for recruiting volunteers and training them. Then in the fall, the big focus will be on recruiting participants and intaking them.
For the last few months I have been praying through a name for the ministry and was feeling kind of frustrated with my lack of “inspiration.” Yesterday, I was reading in Isaiah 58, and it finally came to me!
The whole chapter really spoke to me, but these verses (11-12) specifically are the inspiration behind the name the Lord gave to me:
And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.
And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.
I want the women who come through the program to be restored to who they were made to be in Christ and in turn be restorers within their families and communities. The name the Lord gave me is: Restoration Women.
Friends, I am so very excited about this ministry and know that the Lord has laid it upon my heart for such a time as this. If you are at all interested or want more information, I would love to talk with you about it. Don't hesitate to reach out. If you made it to the end of this post, thank you! I cherish your support and kindness.