Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Testimony Tuesday: Jennifer

It's Tuesday folks! This is becoming one of my favorite days of the week, second to Friday, of course! And maybe Saturday.. and Sunday..

I look forward to this day because I get my own little sneak preview of the testimony of a friend before it gets put on the blog.  I get to check my inbox and read the story that a friend has decided to share.  Most of the time.. well all the time.. it results in a few tears.  I get to see how God is working among the women in my life. And today is no different! 

I woke up in the middle of the night - seriously! - thinking about how I would introduce Jennifer's testimony.  I met Jennifer in 2003 when I started attending Baptist Collegiate Ministries at my school, FMU.  Her husband, Kendal, is the campus minister.  I'm not sure where I would be now had these guys not grabbed me up (along with a few other friendly faces) and welcomed me.  I was a Christian, for sure, but I needed something more at such a criticial time in life - COLLEGE! I am thankful for Jennifer and her family.  More so, I have learned from Jennifer what it looks like to be a supportive ministry partner alongside your husband.  Though there is not a husband currently, I have learned from her how to jump right in with his ministry, be supportive, and share in the ministry that God has given them as a couple.

This is Jennifer's story:

Our Name Matters

Several years ago, my husband and I began a complete financial renovation, if you will; we entered and completed the Financial Peace University class, created by Dave Ramsey. In the midst of the learning that was taking place, we stopped using our debit cards and used cash for things like groceries and gasoline. With our oldest daughter then five years old and the other 2 daughters not yet in the picture, it wasn’t too cumbersome to walk into any given gas station to pay cash. When you have little people, it is much easier to use a debit card and not have to get them unloaded and reloaded into your vehicle.

I began using a specific gas station that was ½ mile from our home. It had recently changed management and was being run by an Indian couple; the wife worked the day shift and her husband was on duty at night. I don’t even remember how it started but God began to form a friendship between myself and the wife that I will never forget. Of the many cool stories I could share about how He wove our lives together, one stands out from the others. It was the Christmas season. I had been praying about what I could give her…just a little something, to let her know that God loves her. Recognizing from the red dot on her forehead that she was most likely Hindu, I considered the real possibility that she was vegetarian. That in itself ruled out a lot of traditional Christmas food gifts. I ended up giving her a copy of our Christmas letter which told how God was blessing us with another biological daughter who was a complete surprise AND miracle in addition to a third daughter with whom we had been in the adoption process for over a year. Along with the letter was a picture of our 3-person family and a bag of M&M’s. The M&M’s seemed really dumb when I handed them to her, as I reached over the counter that had candy below it. It IS the thought that counts, right? I felt sure that this was what I was supposed to give her.

When it came time to address the envelope, I was stumped. I knew her name…at least, I knew how to pronounce it, but spelling it was another matter. I sat, unable to move my pen across the page. How could I share Jesus with this friend through a letter that not only celebrated His birth but also His move on our family when I couldn’t even write her name? I prayed, “Lord, YOU know her name, her heart and her need for you. I have NO idea how to spell her name but I know it matters. Please give me the right order of the letters and let her know through this simple yet meaningful thing that she is loved by Almighty God.” R-a-j-a-n-i. Rajani was her name. Well, at least that is what I wrote on the envelope.

As I was walking into the store, I was nervous and felt my stomach doing somersaults. I explained to her that I had wanted to give her something for Christmas. I handed her the bag of M&M’s, at which we both laughed as I pointed out how she had lots of candy readily available to her already. Then, I put the envelope on the counter. She looked down at it and then up at me again. I told her how I had prayed that I would spell her name correctly and she quickly nodded her head, “Yes, this is right,” in her very strong accent. “Really? It’s right?” Immediately, I felt guilty that I doubted God’s ability to spell her name through my hand. As I walked to my car, I felt God speaking to my heart, “Of course I know her name. I love her. She matters to me.”

So many times I have thought about Rajani. She, along with her husband and their son, returned to India about 7 months after this encounter. It was a quick departing; the new manager told me they returned because Rajani had a bad back and she was having surgery and would not be returning to America. I grieved the loss of this friend and the lack of closure to our relationship. But, I was so thankful for the opportunity to befriend her and share God’s love with her.

“…so shall be my word that goes out from my mouth. It shall not return to me without success, but shall accomplish what I desire and be successful in the thing for which I sent it.”  Isaiah 55:11

Jennifer currently lives in Florence, SC with her husband, Kendal, and three daughters - Jordan, Lydia, and Anna.  They She graduated from App State, which you can see in the great picture to the right.  Kendal and Jennifer work as a team to minister to the students of Francis Marion University.  Exciting news that I heard yesterday - 20 students have decided to put their faith in Christ this semester!!!

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