Monday, June 25, 2012



James 1:27: External religious worship (religion as it is expressed in outward acts) that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need...

God can be so funny in our lives.  We know something is happening, but we have no idea where it's going.

After my divorce in summer of ‘84, moving back to Omaha from Oklahoma to gain the support of friends here from previous years, I struggled... BIG TIME.  I felt I had failed.

I had a daughter and a son.  

I had a good  job, but could hardly meet the basic bills.  My kids had breakfast and lunch at school, for free, which was really good, because I could afford few groceries.

In January, 1985, I was asked to write a series for Lenten services.  It was a different church than I’d been at before, but had friends in it; I’d previously written much for churches before leaving for Oklahoma and was known for it.

At the Lenten services, I rather upset people.  I told them that I was very aware, both personally and by observation, of the "less than" treatment which those who were divorced experienced, in our overall Christian culture. I told them I  hoped that the moms and their children, instead of being treated as outcasts and unclean, would be received as spiritual warfare "widows and orphans".   And,  surprisingly, the Lord led me to join this church.

That's how Dave entered my life. He was a youth leader and I had youth.  A series of events occurred, and through them we were put together, surprisingly and rapidly. We both say the Lord did it, have never thought otherwise.

I told a lady that we were engaged.  She looked at me and said, "You have the most giving man in this church."  And, believe me, those missions-oriented people didn’t have a cheap attitude.

I had already seen he was a giver.  Another mom who also had two "youth" told me that one night Dave showed up at her low-income apartment.  On his motorcycle, he had carried a gallon jug of coins. It provided approximately $200 for her rent.  She was amazed – and appreciative.

When Dave and I began dating,  he started putting cash in my hand.  He always bought groceries for me, gave the kids money for movies or fast food jaunts with friends.  If he saw me look at clothes or shoes or anything else and noticed that my eyes sparkled, he always bought another gift.  I had “never, ever, ever, in my long-legged life” experienced this joy, this kindness.

You see, Dave strongly felt that widows and orphans do not have to be women-without-husbands and children-without- parents in only the physical realm.  Spiritual warfare may have occurred and they ended up alone, outside the box, struggling, and, in some ways, both physically and spiritually, starving.

And this is a ministry that has been buried in our hearts for all these years.  We have done it in our area, in other parts of our country, and the world.  Not a big thing, maybe just finding some clothes or food for a family, or giving a few dollars for their basic needs.

Knowing his heart, I did something.  

I was in Soroti, 2004, and had just spent time praying for a woman.  She was dying and had six kids with her on the veranda where she'd been living for months.

  Pastor Joseph, who had made me go with him to see her, said we needed to get blankets, food, charcoal and other goods for her. 

When we left her, again, after dropping everything off, we joined a meeting involving a number of local and international pastors.  They were  connected to the funds for which I was responsible, and when this purchase was mentioned, a man from the U.S. asked me very bluntly, "And where did that money come from?"  I knew he didn’t approve of what I had done and he thought I would have broken the rules, using money without permission.   I said, very intensely, "It was my money.  My husband and I have given money to single moms in the States, but now we have made it international."   He wasn't pleased, but he couldn't demand a refund.

Dave was very happy when, on the phone that evening,  I told him what we had provided for this lady.

That is his life.  He does it today, any time, any way he can -- fixes computers, provides low-cost piano lessons, repairs homes for next to nothing.  I often say that he would have been giving more and more to single moms and their children IF the Lord hadn't given him a single mom and her children and had to provide for them on a moment-by-moment basis. [But I’m an extremely blessed lady, believe me!!]

Most of the women and children we have helped have truly been widows and orphans.  Their husbands and fathers abandoning or abusing them, even when the husband/dad was a Christian.  My case, too.  My only safe thing to do was leave... but being a single mom, totally responsible at all times, nearly crushed me with depression and fear.

Dave was dropped into my life with a heart for “widows” and I became extremely jubilant, through this godly gift, and, since then, our main heart ministry is what began this story:  James 1:27.

Nothing can make us more joyous than seeing someone come to safety and freedom -- and be blessed and strengthened in heart, soul, and spirit.

[BTW, "widow" can be a "widower".]

--Drop to Peter Pollock's Word Carnival which is "Jubilant" today.  A good way to feel, doncha think? --

Tell Me a Story


a joyful noise said...

Thank you for sharing your story at Tell Me a Story. It is amazing how we should consider the abandoned and divorced women as a widow (in God's sight.) My mother always went out of her way to hug the single women and widows, as she said everyone needs to be touched and hugged daily.

Anonymous said...

Men like Dave are rare. What a treasure and what a jewel that God placed in your life. You have him permanently, but many widows and orphans have experienced his generosity and care temporarily and are blessed. It may be a temporary need met, but believe me, the act won't be forgotten.

I am reminded of the hymn, "Like the stars of the morning, His bright crown adorning, they shall shine in their beauty, bright gems for His crown."

Your Dave is one of those precious jewels!


Peter P said...

What a great story!

Thank you for sharing it.

Jennifer Richardson said...

heart thumping grateful
for the gift of you
and your story!
what a beautiful, beautiful
legacy you and hubby
are building.
i felt every word of this,
by the way.
you write oh so well:)
thanks for the wonderful share,

Loni said...

This was absolutely beautiful to read . . . and also convicting. It used to be in many churches that the divorced were the outcasts. Though not divorced myself (by God's grace) I see it in a different way now, and indeed, they are "widows" needing care and support. If Jesus were in Person here on earth - He'd walk again to the woman at the well, and heal her and want us to reach out to her. THANK YOU for writing so beautifully!

Mari-Anna Stålnacke @flowingfaith said...

Very inspiring. I can feel God enlarging my heart. Thank you. Blessings to you both!

Cris Ferreira said...

Jo, what a beautiful story. I am so glad that God provided for you and then used you to provide for others. He is an amazing God!
By the way, you two look lovely on the photo!
May God continue blessing you both and using you to provide for other widows, orphans, and anyone He sends your way!

Beth said...

Ahhh, friend you KNOW I can relate. I am blessed to have a giving man also.

Floyd said...

Those are the stories and the men that make God's word ring in the ears of the lost and Found.

What an amazing story and amazing man. There are real life heroes... and I'd say you two match perfectly! ... I guess God does too...

I love real life stories of God's miracles. Thanks for sharing.

Breathing In Grace said...

WOW!! What a wonderful testimony and ministry you have with your husband. Truly God-given!