Wednesday’s are for Women: Hannah Conniff

This Outreach Journey of mine started About 5 1/2 years ago when I attended my first outreach with my two kids (Zane and Kyanne). I was a struggling single mom that had been attending Greenwood Baptist Church regularly for about 2 years. I wasn’t incredibly active in the church at this time and even though I had been learning the importance of not just attending church, but being the church through various sermons that year, I just didn’t quite know how God wanted little ol’ me, a woman, a single mom, to be the church. I was confused about what my role as a woman in the church was, what I was capable of doing since I didn’t have much. I had been struggling with the emotion of “not being needed by anyone” or “worthy enough” therefore I was withdrawing in order to protect my feelings. Little did I know God was fixing to open my eyes to a whole new outlook.

One Sunday prior to my first outreach, our pastor had this “kid” ( I say kid because he is much younger than I) speak to the congregation about what it was to show God’s love by doing simple acts of service with no strings attached. He spoke of what it meant to be the hands and feet of Christ and shared of his experiences and the simple acts of service he had done with a church in the south. He wanted to bring that love and kindness back to his home church in Weatherford, Texas (Greenwood Baptist) and teach them how to love their community and others. I was impressed with this kid and what he had to say. I was extremely moved by his passion to serve others and his enthusiasm for the Lord. I wanted what he had. I left church that day inspired and told myself if he could do it then surely I could and thought this must be how God wants me to “be the church.”

The 1st church wide outreach was planned and it was going to be a reverse trick or treat. Since I had been contemplating where my kids and I could serve together within the church, I decided this was it and I jumped on the opportunity…well sort of. You see, since I was impressed with this “kid” and his passion to serve, he actually intimidated me. I was much older (I thought) and he was much wiser (he actually is) and since I hadn’t developed very many friendships with people in the church, I didn’t know who to talk to about the when’s , why’s, where’s and how’s of the upcoming outreach other than that “kid.” I kept passing the signs in the halls of the church advertising the outreach and knew I should let him know that I wanted to participate. But it just so happened that every time I saw him my mouth wouldn’t open and I would just look at the ground EVERYTIME he came in my direction. Satan was really doing a good job of preventing me from speaking up. I had excuses flying in my head about how the kids wouldn’t enjoy it and that they’re kids, they WANT candy, they don’t want to GIVE candy. Every time I passed that sign though the holy spirit kept tugging at me. A couple of days before the outreach, I was at the church later than usual for some reason and I passed by that sign, then I saw that “kid.” I wanted to talk to him and was trying desperately to gather up the nerves. “Why am I being so shy?,” I thought. I was normally very outgoing but I was cowering and the thought of him needing me and my two kids to help him with this outreach. I didn’t want to NOT be needed…LIES! I finally quit arguing with myself, gathered myself up and went to talk to him and then…BAM, my head went straight to the ground. Want to talk about a spiritual battle? I put my foot down and told myself I could do this. I turned around and there it was, a Divine Appointment. That “kid” was face to face with me. My mouth opened up just like the heavens. I told him that the kids and I were going to come to the outreach and asked if there was anything I needed to be prepared for or if I needed to bring anything? He simply replied with “Cool! Nothing needed. We’ll see you at the church at 10:00.” Man that was hard! LOL.

Outreach day arrived and rain was in the forecast. There were only a couple of people that showed up so that “kid” stuck me and my two kids in a truck with this bald-headed guy that worked with the youth and his daughter and said “good luck.” I WAS FRIGHTENED! Here I am, nervous, scared and have no clue as to what to do and that “kid” throws me in the truck with a stranger. I was praying so hard that God wasn’t playing a cruel joke on me and that He actually knew what He was doing. Well, the bald headed guy drove me, my two kids, and his daughter to a nearby neighborhood. We pulled into the 1st driveway and the flood gates opened. The bald headed guy and I looked at each other, shrugged our shoulders and then pulled all the kids out in the pouring rain, ran up to the first house soaking wet, knocked, and…nothing! No one was home. We loaded all the kids up and drove to the next house. We gave the same shrug as before, got all the kids out ran up to the door and guess what? Again no one came to the door. Talk about defeat. Cold, wet, and disappointed. God knew what he was doing though when he put this particular group of “outreachers” together. He knew that none of us would give up easy. We were determined to make this outreach successful. After all, I didn’t want to disappoint that “kid” and I certainly didn’t want to let God down. I was doing this for Him. I was meant to be there in the rain that day with my kids. The third house we pulled up to was the reason. We ran out, cold and wet with our little bags of candy and rang the door bell. Some kids answered the door followed by their parents and they were all shocked. I got to witness why that “kid” was so determined to show people God’s love. The parents asked us why we were out in the rain saying “reverse trick or treat” and giving them candy and all I could do was smile. Those three kids that we had with us told them, ” We want to show you Jesus’ love with no strings attached.” Seeing the joy on my kids faces was overwhelming. Their kindness, their happiness, and their joy to share with others the same love that Jesus did by dying on the cross for us was worth the wet hair, the potential colds, and all the “no’s” we had received prior. It was all God’s plan and purpose. God used us to show that family an example of selfless sacrifice and I got to see that my kids understood that. After that house, I believe we were able to hit another couple of houses in that neighborhood before the lightning started and we took that as God telling us “Well Done.”

I left that outreach that day with the desire to do another outreach. My kids left that outreach that day with a desire to do another outreach. Because of the outreach I made a friend…that bald-headed guy (Which, by the way, has a name. His name is Jon Hartman). I got to know his passion to share God’s love with not only the youth of our church but the youth of our community. I got to get to know his wife and daughter after that outreach, and my kids and I developed a friendship with them. I got to know that “kid,” Austin Cooper, better after that outreach and didn’t think of him as a kid so much anymore. I got to know his family and they became my family. I grew, spiritually, after that outreach. My kids started growing spiritually too. It was WORTH it!

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My kids and I attended almost every single outreach opportunity provided to us after that first outreach. It was something we did together Saturday after Saturday as a family. For about a year it was just Austin, Ashley, Zane, Kyanne, and I. We learned together, we grew together, we shared a passion for serving others humbly together. My kids knew what we were doing every Saturday morning, no questions asked. They had a desire in their hearts to love others as did I. Severing others seemed to round off our week and prepare our hearts for church on Sunday and overall helped the upcoming week flow better. We were able to open our hearts to being spiritually fed and therefore continued to grow.

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You see God used me, a scared, single mom to share His purpose with others. I had no idea at the time what His plan for me was, but I did know He had a purpose for me and my kids. He knew my heart. He knew I had a desire to serve others. He knew my love for Him, and He knew I would be obedient. He knew I wasn’t shy. He knew I could talk to a stranger and that I could use those qualities to brighten someone’s day. He knew that if I received a “no” from someone or if I had a door closed in my face that I wouldn’t give up. You know how I know He knew all that? Because He Created me. He made me in His image. He used those outreaches as a door to build up my kid’s relationship with him and with me. He used the various different outreaches we’ve done over the years as a tool for me to teach myself and my kids the act of selflessness and gave us many opportunities to be His Hands and Feet. He gave me the courage to be His voice but most importantly he gave me the ability to Be The Church.

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