by Rindy Brooks, Heartbeats of Licking County, Newark, Ohio
Our staff retreat in late July focused around 2 Timothy 4:1 – 8 and the need to fulfill our ministry. It is the last recorded letter of Paul as he knew his time of departure was near and he needed to share certain things with Timothy as he passed the torch of ministry.
The study was so timely and personal for us. We had just lost the “Paul” of our pregnancy center. A special lady named Merridy Hoover. She is the reason I and so many are here at Heartbeats of Licking County today. She rescued the center from demise in 1989 and built a solid foundation of faith that we firmly stand on today. Her vision and servant leadership even serves you in Heartbeat affiliates around the world every day.
The prototype for the manual “Talking About Abortion” was written by her – she called it the “10-Point Health and Safety Check List”. She tested it, we trained and used it in our center and found out this “women-centered” approach worked to engage abortion-minded women on the phone to help and care for them. So she called Heartbeat's president, Peggy Hartshorn, and told her this method was working and that it needed to be published by Heartbeat International and distributed.
It was published and still is distributed by Heartbeat. Option Line actually uses this format 24/7 to reach women in crisis. The list of impactful projects Merridy shepherded could continue, but more insightful is to share how she lived up to the end to encourage us to carry on the torch of ministry.
A greeting card came to the center a week after her funeral. It was from her.
We tearfully opened it together at the retreat and what we received from her was our charge. A miracle to us from God, it was the perfect object lesson to illustrate these verses. Merridy “Our Paul” had retired 12 years prior but her prayers and encouragement were steadfast, especially to me, her “Timothy”. I have ably served 12 years as Executive Director and yet for the first time, I felt strangely on my own. And now, in her own hand, written 2 months prior to her passing she says to me, to the staff, and now to you in ministry every day:
“To my beloved sisters and brothers in Christ, His work in you is so beautiful- keep shining with the light of His presence! Keep shining. I am so proud of you all. God’s hand is on your ministry and service to Him.
Love and Blessings, Merridy.”
So let us remember to encourage and teach those “Timothys” in our midst. To clearly charge them and remind them of the suffering and sacrifice in serving Jesus and yet the gladness and joy found in fulfilling our work received from the Lord. I want to be able to pass the torch of ministry and say as in 2 Tim 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Until then, we must carry our torches high and keep shining.
(Staff Retreat material part of Beth Moore’s 3-part DVD series with listening guide “Fulfill Your Ministry!” available from Living Proof Ministries)
By Aaren Rutan, Client Services Director for Loving Arms
I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been feeling kind of like an island when I look at the world around me. It seems that when I turn on the news the tide of public opinion is completely against everything I hold dear. We wouldn’t be involved in the pregnancy help movement if we weren’t keenly aware of the attack on life that has been waged in our country since 1973. And, we can’t turn on the television without hearing the ongoing debate about contraception, comprehensive sex education, marriage, and the list goes on. . .
When you are tempted to dwell on the discouragement that sometimes creeps in, remember that Jesus went against the tide from His very birth until His death on the cross. Consider His birth—we can be quite confident that it was not commonplace for kings to be welcomed to the world by farm animals and shepherds. Remember the story of how His parents, likely frantic from searching for Him, found Him in the temple teaching those who should have been teaching Him. Or, do you recall those He chose to join Him in His ministry? Among His chosen twelve were tax collectors and fishermen—not likely considered to be among the spiritually elite. I love the story of the “wee little man” (you know the song) whom Jesus called down from the tree. Can you imagine what Zacchaeus must have thought when Jesus said He was going to his house that day?
The religious leaders were horrified when Jesus allowed the woman to wash His feet. And, when He healed the sick on the Sabbath they accused Him of being a blasphemer.
Even the way He died went against the tide of human nature. He gave His life so that we might have life eternal. And, He is only one of two who rose from the dead; and, unlike Lazarus, He never felt death again!
But, the one story about Jesus that really speaks to me when I consider the context of our ministry is the story of the woman at the well. This is another perfect example of how Jesus broke the barriers of cultural stereotypes of His time. “Sam” (I recently read a study that referred to her as “Sam” since she was a Samaritan) was shocked when Jesus asked her for a drink of water–understandably so considering the fact that she was a woman AND a Samaritan. Add to that the fact that she was living in a sinful relationship with a man who was not her husband and was, therefore, most likely looked down upon by many in her community.
“Sam” wasn’t used to Jewish men striking up conversations with her. But, Jesus went against the tide of society by not only acknowledging her by speaking directly to her, but also by reaching out to her and meeting her deep need for the water that would quench her spiritual thirst forever.
Isn’t that what we do in the pregnancy help movement? How many people have come through these doors to experience love, grace, and a non-judgmental response regardless of the circumstances that brought her/him through our doors? Many of our clients hear a message that is the complete opposite of what they have been exposed to throughout their entire lives. They’ve been conditioned to believe that they aren’t special enough to wait for. They’ve believed the lie that God isn’t real and He doesn’t care about them. They are members of an entire generation that has been told that the lives of unborn children have no value because they can’t be seen. We tell them that God does in fact love them, that He does have a plan for their good, that He is real and that they can trust Him, and that He values every life—both born and unborn. Jesus ministered to “Sam” in much the same way—by showing her that she was valuable in His eyes.
The next time you hear the news and feel that you are swimming against the tide of our society, rest assured that you are—and you are not alone. Jesus is swimming with you.
Book review by Debbie Schirtzinger, Heartbeat International Affiliation Coordinator
“What does true encouragement look like – the kind that changes lives forever? To encourage people is to help them gain courage they might not otherwise possess – courage to face the day, to do what’s right, to take risks, and/or to make a difference. And the heart of encouragement is to communicate a person’s value. When we help people feel valuable, capable, and motivated we sometimes see their lives change forever – and then see them go on to change the world.
“God’s love for us gives us the reason to encourage others.God’s love in us gives us the ability to encourage others.God’s love through us gives us the way to encourage others.”
Encouragement is an essential part of growing a positive attitude and improving life; and providing that encouragement benefits both the giver and the receiver(s). This book is packed with timeless quotes, scriptures, and short but meaningful stories that illustrate the value of offering and receiving encouragement. Author John Maxwell shares ways to effectively provide the kind of encouragement that transforms individuals, families, churches, and work teams into happier, healthier, more affirming networks.
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