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Women in Outreach

I’ve heard it said that each person is given Spiritual gifts and aptitudes and although your interests and hobbies in life will change, these gifts or inward nudgings for your place in life or purpose that God created you for will find it’s way to continually resurface . My family has been attending Greenwood Baptist Church for almost 7 years . We have been very involved with Horsemen for Christ and when Brian Bond, the pastor of Greenwood, came on board with them after a cutting horse camp at Silvarado Arena, my daughters said that they wanted to start going to Greenwood and try to get plugged into a church. Until this point, as a family we hadn’t taken the step to be dedicated to attend a church gathering every Sunday.

The idea of outreach; however, was not a new one to my family. The Lord had placed this on my heart at an early age and I remember one particular Mothers Day where we were all dressed up, the girls were in matching dresses and we even made it to the early service ( which will surprise those of you that know how punctual my Family is ). In the middle of the service Jeff’s pager went off and he had to leave to go do an emergency colic surgery . So here we were , my two beautiful girls, all dressed up and our Mother’s Day lunch just got postponed. I had a moment (or so ) that I was kind of feeling sorry for myself that on Mother’s Day we would have our plans changed , but that was typical in our life . So I said, “Girls let’s go do something special this Mother’s Day.” My Grandmother always told me and my kids that the only way to be truly blessed is to give to others . So we went to Walmart and Brookshires and bought every carnation they had and my two beautiful matching dressed girls and I went to the hospital and gave flowers to all the ladies/mothers in the hospital and then went to my Grandmothers nursing home and did the same thing . For me, this was one of the most memorable Mother’s Days i have had and it was the first time I served alongside my kids.

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The kids got more involved in the Church and I too wanted to be more involved but I struggled to balance the crazy life of being a veterinarian’s wife, raising and showing cutting horses, and raising three kids . I remember my daughter Jordann’s first outreach with Austin and the church. They passed out free glowsticks to trick or treaters on Halloween! Jordann of course came home from that outreach with a big fluffy cat she claimed to have rescued from sheer doom. We still have that cat!!! She went on several more outreaches with Austin and Ashley and loved it, and I as a mom was so proud that my daughter was serving and involved in church . This seemed like a great way for the “younger” people to learn to serve and be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Several months later I signed up to go on a church mission trip to Haiti, which I Almost backed out of TWICE. I had a long list of reasons of why it really wasn’t the best time for me to go, but in the end, after a lot of prayers I still went. In Haiti, our mission team did outreaches and served food and prayed for and gave clothes to the people of Haiti. After we got home, Austin asked me if I could help serve with Greenwood at our local soup kitchen. As we were serving Austin explained that they were thinking about expanding their outreaches where we now would, instead of just sending out one team, we would send out three teams to serve our community in practical ways. Austin asked if I would pray about being a part of this by being one of the leaders of the three teams.

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Again I thought that mostly it was the kids that did the outreaches and although I felt they were wonderful and extremely important, I just didn’t think that our crazy lifestyle would allow for every other Saturday to be available for outreaches. I prayed about it and really wanted to serve along side my Kids. So I told Austin that I would do my best, but couldn’t guarantee that I would be able to be there very much. The Lord is amazing like that because I continued to show horses, go to ball games, and live the crazy life we lead, but when I gave a commitment to The Lord of every other Saturday, all of the sudden my schedule was free on almost every outreach Saturday. When the horses would show, they would draw to compete either the day before or after but, almost never on outreach days. We were blessed beyond words to serve together and my kids and their friends love it as much as I do!! We have seen The Lord go before us and touch lives in ways that you can’t imagine through small simple acts of kindness.Here’s a story that will hopefully encourage you:

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We were finishing an outreach one Saturday and my son Jarrett who was 12, his best friend Macrae (another outreach regular) and I are driving back to taco casa to meet the other outreach teams for lunch. We pass a homeless guy named Leo and his dog shadow, and the boys tell me that they want to go back and take food to Leo. So at taco casa we buy a meal for Leo and a burrito for his dog, and head back to the corner where we saw him. I pull up, park the car, and watch out the window as these two 12 year old boys go up to Leo and give him his food. Leo takes off his hat, they all hold hands and pray together!!

It was a powerful mom moment to see these boys who just a year before wouldn’t knock on a door to give away Popsicles at another outreach, Become young warriors for the Kingdom and feed and openly pray with a stranger. The outreaches plant seeds in both the giver and receiver. We need more families with hearts to give, teaching their kids how to reach out, and I believe that Greenwood’s outreach is helping to shape a generation of young Leaders. I’m so blessed to be one of the “old ” people serving alongside these young people as they show us through simple ” not so random” acts of kindness how to be the hands and feet of Jesus .

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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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“Go”, this was the command that I heard so clearly that humid summer Sunday morning after hearing about Kindness Outreach for the first time. Quite honestly, I did not feel that any other answer would have been acceptable to my Father except for my internal response to Him, “Yes sir”. During the announcements the Kindness Outreach pastor explained how the car wash would operate. Saturday morning, we would be washing people’s vehicles and then handing them one dollar, instead of the other way around, in order to show God’s love to our community in a simple, practical, and friendly way. Apparently, God wanted us to take part in this fun!

You had better believe that up until the moment that the Kindness Outreach began, the enemy was targeting our family. He was using every excuse, person, situation, and even our own insecurities to try and change our minds about attending. Remembering the command that was asked of our family, we ignored the destructive lies from the enemy.

Saturday morning had arrived.

My husband, Sam and I gathered up all of the dollars we had around the house and Sam made a stop at the bank to exchange a twenty for ones (being our first outreach, we thought that we were supposed to bring the ones, we discovered later that the church generously provided those funds). I headed out to the gym, planning on meeting my husband and our two boys at the church later that morning.

Pulling into the church parking lot, my mind was a spiritual battlefield. The enemy flooded my mind with deceptive untruths. I have never experienced the enemy’s focus being intentionally aimed right at me as strongly as I did during this moment. My thoughts were being overwhelmed with deceit. These trickeries rushed to the forefront of my mind one after another, “You are going to tell people about Jesus? You sin all of the time. You are not like those people. You don’t even belong here. What are you going to say? You are not a good example of what a Christian should act like.” I had never heard thoughts resound so loudly in my head. These thoughts were bitter frigid, so much so that I felt a hollow chill creep among me. I was not sure that I actually could show people God’s abundant love for them. It was true I did sin and fall short daily of the glory of God.

Now friends, I wish I could write in confidence saying that I ended up getting right out of my car, told that rascal to bug off, and marched up to that church ready to share Jesus Christ with the world!

But that would be a lie, and would likely be frowned upon by the Creator I will answer to. The truth is…

I decided to leave. Feeling defeated, I asked God to strengthen me. I was so disappointed in myself. I was a child of God, how could I allow myself to think in this way? I continued to battle with my thoughts. Finally, just as I settled my thoughts and decided to leave, a car pulled up beside me. I slightly turned my head to reveal a courtesy smile as to say, “Hello there, all is well in this car, no battles going on here,” when to my rescue God had sent the people that made me a wife and a mother on this earth. I must confess my initial thought was, “Oh, great, it’s my husband and our boys. There is no way I could leave now. I cannot be a bad example for my children”. Regardless of my initial reaction, God strengthened me in that moment.

I wholeheartedly believe that it took that timing, God’s timing for me to process the attack I was under. I believe He knew exactly what He was doing when he told me to, “Go”. I believe He knew exactly what He was doing when my family showed up right at the very moment I was planning on leaving. I felt apprehensive in my car that day, but we serve a Father that will “…never leave us nor forsake us” Deuteronomy 31:6. When that Father says, “Go”, know that, that is the safest place that we can be.

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Today, my husband and I serve every other Saturday at our churches Kindness Outreach. I was attacked by the enemy that day because he did not want God to allow me, nor Sam, or the boys to be used as a tool to show people God’s love for them. We must remember that if we are doing anything that God asks us to do and we have those thoughts, in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior, we must throw them out. Those thoughts are from the enemy, and they are lies. Each of you are created carefully and purposefully by God, and he has a plan for you. I was weak that day but I thank God that he is strong and because I have asked him to be the leader of my life he makes me brave enough to share his love with my community.

God has worked in a great way through Kindness Outreaches in our family. He has made my husband and I set our priorities in His order. We know that sharing God’s love with others is what He wants us to do, we are so happy to have the opportunity to do so during outreaches and in our personal life. I thank God continuously for commanding us to, “GO”.

As a 21 year old college student I found my self in charge of the outreach efforts of my home church. I honestly did not know how God was going to grow this ministry I felt called to lead, but i was very enthusiastic that God was going to create an outward focused DNA within our church very quickly, and that we would have a great response right from the get go. I’ll never forget the first “Church-Wide” Outreach I planned. We called it the reverse trick or treat, and it was designed so that the day before Halloween we would have families lead kids door to door giving away candy instead of receiving it.

Again i didn’t know how God was going to build this ministry, but I had an idea that it would be through an outpour of devoted men leading their wives and kids to the outreaches. That is what i had always seen, and that is what I had always been taught, that to grow a ministry you must have devoted men. So there I was, with our staff at our first outreach, waiting for all of the big trucks with all of the men to show up with their families. None came! Who did show up was one single mom, named Hannah, with her kids.

As we were doing the outreach it was raining the whole time, we had to cut it short, and I came away a bit discouraged. I thought to myself, well surely the men will show up at the next outreach. Little did I know that God was going to primarily use a devoted single mother and her kids to grow our outreach ministry. Outreach after outreach rolled by and week after week it was Hannah and her sweet kids who showed up. Ashley, my wife, and I started praying that God would grow the love for serving in practical ways in our church, but, in His time and in His way. Overtime other women, usually those who Hannah invited, and kids starting showing up. Now we had 2 or 3 devoted women and their kids. Some Women had sons and daughters who were in the youth group which brought other youth students. Slowly, but surely God was building, not our idea of what a ministry would look like, but His Ministry of Outreach.

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5 years later when we have a Church wide Outreach we have single Men, single Women, Kids, Husbands/Wives, College age adults, youth students, retirees, babies, and dogs all showing up (Literally, some people bring their dogs). It’s been an amazing story of growth that only God could do. If I am being candid, I must say that where our men were failing to step up to grow this ministry, God raised up devoted Women, who felt a call to serve and love on the community to take their place. Still to this day, I would say the women of our church, binging their families, are the core of our ministry. We have a lot of men that come and serve now, but for a majority of them, the entry point of their devotion was their wives willingness to be apart of our church’s efforts to reach the Not-Yet Believers in our community.

There is something to be said about a woman’s role in outreach. It truly is limitless. Some women lead, some women talk, some women pray, some women just serve by holding signs at car washes or washing windows at businesses without talking. Many of the women, when they start serving at our outreaches, come in timid, shy, unsure about the abilities and talents God has given them. Satan has a stronghold on the confidence of many women. However, after they start showing love in practical ways, overtime it is like they blossom and start thriving as the confident women God designed them to be. In fact when I needed leaders to lead outreach teams in our community, I started with 3 women who came in a bit timid, but now were on fire to reach the lost in our community and to lead our church in serving to show God’s love in practical ways. What is great about these leaders is that they now have husbands who are doing an awesome job leading as well, and encouraging more men to be apart of what we are doing!

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There are not a lot of places inside the Church where women are encouraged to thrive while serving along side, and sometimes even leading teams with men on it. We do a lot of segregating in churches today, this is for the Men, this is for the Women. As Outreach leaders we have to see the value and role that women play in outreach even along side men. While I still believe that devoted men leading their families (which we have a lot of doing now) is an ideal thing to have for outreach, There are a lot of reasons why women find themselves thriving at, and playing a vital role in our outreaches:

  • Great Outreach teams need to be upbeat, encouraging, and smile a lot. All qualities that Women are more apt to have.
  • Great Outreach teams need to feel the hurt and pain of the community, to insert God’s love. Something Women are more sensitive to.
  • Great Outreach teams need to be able to preform simple acts of humble service. Women seem to have an easier time with this.
  • Great Outreach teams  need to be comfortable praying out loud for those they are serving. I have noticed women are better at this.
  • Great Outreach teams need to illuminate the change that Jesus has made in them. I believe this is easier seen in the face of a confident, vibrant, well loved, but humble woman.
  • Great Outreach teams need to be Spirit led. I have noted that most of the times God has asked our teams to do something different than we had planned, it was a Woman He revealed this to.
  • Great Outreach teams need to understand that a simple act of God’s love and Kindness truly can change the life of the recipient. Women come to know and experience this truth very quickly.
  • Great Outreach teams apply what they learn on corporate outreaches to their every day life. I have heard many testimonies of our women sharing Christ with those they are around by using what they learned on outreaches.
  • Great Outreach teams need to know they are valued. Something Women communicate very well.
  • Great Outreach teams share stories and pictures of outreaches on social media. Women are awesome at this!

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I believe if you look at any church that is reaching their community well with teams showing love in practical ways, you will find a group of humble, devoted, and Christ like women thriving in their roles.      I will forever be grateful for the women of our church, who in the beginning were committed, who are now faithful, and who will in the future be devoted to sharing Christ’s love to our community. In the coming weeks we will have personal testimonies from women within our church about their role in our outreach ministry, and how God has used it to shape who they are.