I met Jennifer Hand (Jen) at the Winsome Retreat in Pennsylvania in April.
She took the stage and I sat in the front row and thought to myself after exactly five words came out of her mouth :
“She is a girlfriend.”
In the truest sense of the word.
Ya’ll. She is a missionary who provides trauma counseling for REFUGEES.
All over the world.
She’s pretty much on call for all the atrocities we read about.
She boards a plane with very little notice and ministers to people who are in the deepest meaning of trauma. Displaced.
Homeless doesn’t even cover it. She goes to dark places and sheds light.
On top of it all she has humor and a humility that I admire.
Even as a girl who has a wicked sense of humor and holds a graduate degree in counseling I have no words for this kind of bravery. None.
Plus, she wore a deer-head shirt that was adorable and every story she told made me snort with hilarity.
Girlfriend. In the bag.
We sat together at lunch the next day. We talked of Haiti and ministry and told jokes. My daughter was with me. I glanced back and forth between Jen and my daughter and thought to myself: YES. This is exactly the person I want having lunch with my daughter: Someone who dares to do what the cross has called her to do. And she maintains her sense of humor right alongside her deep faith. This.
This is true.
I wish you could have had lunch with Jen, too. I wish you could have heard her contagious laugh.
She does the work of Jesus humbly. I just ordered her most recent book and its on its way to me.
I’d like to give you a copy, too. Comment below. I’ll choose one of you to send a copy to. Because Jenn should be shared.
(Jen wrote this just before boarding a plane after an emergency call to Ecuador. She is now heading to Haiti (if I can even keep track?)
I love her. You will, too.
One year ago I was boarding a plane. Tomorrow I am again boarding a plane. Both for the same reasons, just different countries.
7.8 magnitude earthquakes had shaken Nepal and Ecuador.
Nepal a year ago this week.
Ecuador last month.
I find myself on a plane for a journey with the same goal in mind, to try to help others find hope beneath the rubble. With a master’s degree in trauma counseling, God has allowed me the incredible opportunity of providing debriefing and counseling to those whose lives were rocked when the earth rocked.
To proclaim the hope buried beneath the rubble.
I thought my heart was prepared for what my eyes had seen on the news when I traveled to Nepal last year days after the second earthquake. Nepal was a beloved country I had lived in for two years, so it was a homecoming of sorts for me. The same, yet everything was different. Buried underneath the rubble of collapse.
The news moved from my heart to my head the day that I rounded that holy hill. The team and I found ourselves at a church reduced to piles of concrete, with each of the eight stories pancaked on the other. The church had held worshippers that had been praising Jesus when the earthquake came. The rubble of that church now held eight bodies buried inside, who met Jesus the day the earthquake came.
The remaining survivors were waiting under a little temporary piece of tin waiting for me to bring them hope.
How could I find hope there? I literally fell to my knees in front of that rubble.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw something that took my breath away. In the midst of the rubble, the cross which had stood on the top of the church was crumpled in the rubble.
When I saw the cross Jesus whispered to me, “ There is always hope beneath the rubble.”
That began a radical journey for me to draw near to the cross. I have believed in the power of the cross for my forgiveness since I prayed in belief in childlike faith at eight years old. But I began a new journey of learning the depths of the hope of the cross.
Coming alive at the cross was my journey to follow the steps of Jesus to the cross and study the power of the cross.
The cross is not just for our eternal life, it is for our everyday life.
For the good days. For the bad days. For the worst days. For the best days.
This is our hope any time the earth is shaking.
This is our hope when the earth feels stable.
This is our hope when the doctor’s report comes. When the surprise provision shows up. When your heart connects with a friend over coffee. When you are uncertain. When things feel certain.
The cross is our hope.
Would love to invite you to come alive at the cross with me.
Jenn Hand, Executive Director and founder of Coming Alive Ministries, returned home after living overseas for two years as a missionary in a country where people worshiped idols and statues all around her.
As Jenn returned home, she found herself traveling and speaking to churches about her experiences serving overseas. She began to notice church pews packed with people who said they knew the living God, but were living dead inside.
Coming Alive Ministries was founded as a 501(c)3 organization to provide an invitation to come alive in Christ through conferences, retreats and written resources.
You can purchase her book in the link below, or comment here on the blog and I’ll choose one winner on Saturday and send a copy straight to YOU!