She knew it was God speaking to her. He had said something to her the day before, and it surprised her. So now she was alone at the park, wanting to hear His voice, wanting to be sure of what He said.
Her heart was listening.
As she sat expectantly in the quiet, God asked her to recall what He had said to her the day before:
"If there's no Christian women's ministry organization in this area, you should start one."
She pondered that. But she thought it might be easier to get a job in women's ministry at her new church. That would make more sense.
And then God impressed upon her, "I meant what I said."
She sat there in her car at the park, stunned. How could this be possible? God really wanted her to start an organization? She had no idea how to accomplish this. She was excited and afraid and in awe that God would tell her to do something this crazy. She sat there for a long time, wanting to cement in her mind what God had said. She knew that when she left the park and carried on with normal activities, the enemy would try to tell her she hadn't heard right. That she had imagined it. That God meant something else, something that was easier, less risky, and that made more sense.
She took a photo of the fall trees that she was staring at when God confirmed to her the assignment He had for her. She never wanted to forget. It was November 19, 2018.
Later that day she wrote in her journal, "If God is calling me to start my own women's ministry organization, there is a HUGE gap between the calling and my ability to do it. Here's what God needs to provide:
-A job for me until this organization gets going
-A belief in the hearts of others that this ministry is a God thing and worth investing in...
"I think I would call it Arise. I saw this verse in my journal yesterday morning: 'Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.' Isaiah 60:1"
She saved this photo to her phone.
She told her husband what God had said and asked him to take some time alone to pray and listen to God. He did, and he said that God told him, "Confidence." He said that meant yes, she should believe in this dream.
She told a few of her closest friends about what God had said. She even told a couple of them that she thought maybe God wanted them to be a part of this ministry. They said they would pray about it.
She researched how to start a non-profit organization. It said she needed a clear purpose. She knew it was about teaching women the Bible so that they could know Jesus better and have an abundant life in Him, but she didn't know how to put that into words.
So then she waited.
So she got a job. And carried on. She waited for God to show her the next step.
Six months later she got a different job. And she still waited for God to show her the next step.
She worried that she was missing something. Why was God taking so long? She worried that she was wasting her life. She didn't just want to have a job; she wanted to have a PURPOSE. She missed women's ministry.
In October of 2019, almost a year after God told her what He wanted her to do, she got something from Him about the purpose of the women's ministry organization.
Arise Women's Ministry exists to:
-Lead women to become disciples of Jesus Christ.
-Steep them in God's Word.
-Help them fulfill their God-given purpose in the world.
But what now? She was convinced God would make it very clear when it was time to start the ministry. She just kept praying. She got pretty frustrated in the waiting. She thought of Joseph (from the book of Genesis) who was in prison for years before God called him to greater things. She prayed for perseverance. She looked for the lessons she was supposed to be learning along the way. She must not be ready if God was making her wait. Or maybe her team, the women who would help her, were not ready. Or maybe the women God wanted to reach and minister to through this organization were not ready.
One night in May 2020, she had a breakdown. In the darkness of her room, she sobbed and cried out to God in anger, "I know what You told me to do, but I don't know how! You have to help me! I can't do it! I don't know what to do!" She fell asleep, exhausted by grief and frustration.
The next day on her way home from work, she saw a homeless man with no shoes.
He was shuffling along the pavement and it was drizzling. Her heart went out to him! She wanted to get him some shoes! She had plenty of money in the bank...
She ignored the cry in her heart and kept driving. She was eager to get home. She wasn't going to stop....but God got more insistent. She pulled over at McDonald's. She was panicked. She didn't know how to talk to this guy. Did she just ask him if she could buy him shoes?? She called her husband for help. She told him to drive into town and help her get the guy some shoes. Her husband said that would take too long and that the man would be gone by then. She was frantic. "But I don't know what to say to him! Do I just ask if I can buy him shoes? Do I tell him to wait for me and then I'll go buy them? I don't know what to do!!"
She wanted to have a whole plan and she even wanted to know what would happen, before she was willing to act.
Her husband said to keep him on speaker phone and just drive back to see if she could find him.
She drove around for about ten minutes. But he was gone. She felt a sick, sad disappointment. God prompted her to help someone, and she was too scared to act because she didn't know the plan, and she didn't know the outcome.
She was sad all evening. So she asked God what she was supposed to learn.
He impressed upon her: "You need to obey faster."
"OK. I need to obey faster. Without knowing how it will all turn out..."
Later that week, she was having a rough day at work and was crying in the bathroom on her break. She saw her teardrops on the floor, and then she felt God asking, "Why haven't you done what I told you to do?"
She thought of Jonah and how he disobeyed God and wouldn't go to Ninevah. She realized that she would continue to be miserable, "stuck in the belly of a whale," until she obeyed God.
It was time to start Arise Women's Ministry. Without knowing the plan. Without knowing the outcome. Just on pure faith.
Obviously I'm talking about me.
That was three weeks ago. I did three things that day to make sure I wouldn't talk myself out of what God said.
1. I wrote on a Post-It note: "Why haven't you done what I told you to do? 05/15/2020" and put it up at my desk at work.
2. I texted a friend of mine who started a non-profit organization a couple of years ago to ask if I could discuss it with her and get some tips about next steps. We planned to talk the next day.
3. I sent my best friend in Colorado a Marco Polo video message that night, telling her what God said to me that day. Telling her it was time. I asked her to hold me accountable to follow through. I cried and told her I was both excited and scared.
I took a day that weekend to go to the park alone and listen to God. It was the same park where I was 18 months earlier when God told me to start this ministry. This time I was asking for next steps and I was asking for who would help me.
God said to me, "Don't wait. I will be with you in this."
God also brought to mind a few women I knew, and I contacted them later that day, asking them to pray and listen to God about whether they could help me in this. For the past few weeks, they have been praying! They have been giving me advice. They have some unique giftings that will be such an asset to this ministry, which gets me more and more excited!
One of them asked me all about my vision for Arise and what the logo would look like. I told her I knew it had to have hopeful light, like a sunrise. We went back and forth until she came up with this beautiful logo:
I cried. It's perfect.
A couple of weeks ago, God told me I needed to share publicly about this ministry. Even though I don't actually have anything started yet. But He told me to secure the name first. Just like you name a baby before birth, He told me to name this ministry and then "give birth to it," or let it be known.
I filed a business name with the Secretary of State's office the same night my friend finished the logo.
When I told my best friend she texted me this:
And that's all I have so far:
a big dream, a lot of faith, and a whole lot of support from people who love me.
They seem to believe this will happen! I don't know why it surprises me. I believe it will happen too, but I guess I expected to have to convince people.
One of my friends said to me, "I always knew you would do something like this."
Another friend at work said he had been praying for me for the last few months, ever since I told him women's ministry was what I am passionate about. He said God will always provide a way for us to do His work, and I just have to watch for Him. I was in awe of that. I often wonder whether I'm in the right place at my current job, but God showed me that day that He is always at work, even when we can't see it. Maybe I am there just so I could meet this friend who will encourage me in this ministry.
And my favorite encouragement was when my dear friends gathered up their "rainy day change" and piggy bank money, even having their two little girls help, and wrote me notes of encouragement to say they are so proud of me and they are behind me all the way. I bawled over it. It was absolutely precious.
The next day they dropped off these shirts on my porch.
Do you see the faith behind this? They're saying they believe this is a real thing, and that it really will happen!
If you have been my cheerleader, or if you have ever been a cheerleader to anyone stepping out and pursuing a dream, THANK YOU! The world needs you. Nothing new would ever be accomplished if we didn't follow our dreams, and we need your support to do so.
Here's what I don't know yet:
-where we will meet
-what programs we will offer
-who will be involved as a volunteer/staff member/member of the Board of Directors
-how to raise money
-all of the legal steps to file as a non-profit organization
-when we will begin
Here's what I do know:
-God told me to do this
-He will bring the right people to help me (He has already brought several!)
-He has perfect timing, so I don't need to rush or strive or panic
-He is capable of providing money and office space and legal assistance and everything else that is needed
-He already knows the women that He wants to reach through this ministry, and He is offering me a priceless gift in asking me to do His work and impact their lives!
"My beloved spoke and said to me, 'Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me.'"
Song of Solomon 2:10
Will you pray with me for God's leading?? Thank you! I can't wait to see what happens next.