Life got you down? When circumstances leave you feeling helpless and hopeless, it can be hard to see what you could offer to anyone else. But sometimes, serving others is the key to finding your own healing.
Here are five inspiring stories of people who, through service and with God’s help, traded “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:3).
Comfort for Infant Loss
In 2010, Blair and Erin Cushman of Kerrville, Texas were eagerly awaiting the birth of their first child. During labor, however, the baby’s heartbeat was lost, and just 36 hours after her birth, Gwendolyn Hope passed away.
Erin remembers, “[God] burdened my and my husband’s hearts to create a ministry for families like us.” They started Hope Mommies, which offers support and hope to grieving families through online and local Hope Groups and annual Hope Retreats. Hope Boxes, filled with items designed to pamper, comfort and speak biblical truth to recipients, are sent to people who have experienced loss.
“We all need to believe that hope and healing are possible. This is how we share hope,” says Erin.
Clothes for the Needy
Patricia Winslow Calderon had taught a Sunday school class for two- and three-year-olds in her Georgetown, Ill. church for years. However, because of her vision impairment, she eventually decided it was time to give that up. “It was getting too hard to tell the kids apart,” she admits. But instead of letting that get her down, she jumped into a new ministry.
“I had these clothes that [my daughter] had grown out of and no one to hand them down to,” she explains. From there, the idea of a clothing ministry developed. Once a month, visitors to the church’s food bank can also pick out free clothes for their families. Thirty to 40 families in this small town are served by the clothing ministry monthly.
Support for Special Needs
Joe and Jen Butler’s son, Micah, was diagnosed with developmental delays and other special needs at a young age. Although navigating unknown waters and uncertain of their son’s future, as Micah grew, the Butlers found unfailing strength from their hope in God.
Out of a desire to help others know the rest that Jesus promises in Matthew 11:28, the Butlers founded Ability Tree in 2010. Through R.E.S.T. (Recreation, Education, Support and Training) they help, encourage and strengthen special needs families and the communities around them. Ability Tree currently has branches in Arkansas and New Jersey and hopes to spread across the country.
Restoration for a City
Crystal and Peter Blomgren saw their city devastated during the Joplin, Mo. tornadoes of 2011, but their own property came through just fine. “There was survivor guilt,” Crystal admits.
As their church became a center for recovery efforts, helping with tornado cleanup became the theme of the Blomgrens’ summer. Crystal’s responsibilities included coordinating meals and childcare for recovery volunteers. Peter got involved on the technical side of things, writing programs to keep track of donations and rewiring phone systems to handle a greater volume of calls.
In the aftermath of the disaster, the couple stepped up to offer their gifts wherever a need could be met. Crystal explains, “This was what we were called to do during that time.”
Childcare for Teen Moms
Once a young, single mother herself, Pearl Willis understood the struggles other young moms in her Chicago apartment building faced as they considered dropping out of school or quitting their jobs, because they couldn’t afford childcare. Ms. Pearl, as she is known, quit her job to starting watching their kids. As demand grew, God provided a building to use for Roseland Community “Good News” Daycare.
Because of the center, young mothers can further their education. Ms. Pearl shares, “We have been blessed with 41 high school graduates, 23 college and 19 special certificates.” Additionally, she teaches the families about Jesus, and the mothers participate in Bible study each week.
The daycare continues to grow. Ms. Pearl says, “This year we open our doors to a new facility that will serve 61 children.”
Do you know any seeming nobodies who, with God’s help, became community-changing somebodies? Share their stories below.