Today was one of those days when I got to witness God doing a mighty thing. And, it didn't really happen like I thought it would. Crazy how God delights in surprising us by following through on His plans versus the plans we concoct.
Way back in February, on a day I was chit-chatting with Lisa Q. on the phone, we were lamenting that our particular age group has not necessarily been targeted with specific activities within our church's women's ministry. It wasn't so much our "age" group, but maybe more so our "interests" group. The big dilemma has been what would be a draw - and very, very few ideas came to mind as to what would be a big enough lure for women who are already so busy. The one thing I could think of that had attracted our peer group in the past was the Oregon Football Women's' Clinic....where the coaches had the ladies come out to Autzen Stadium and ran though drills to teach us the basics of football. We live in a very sports-minded community, with a particular affection for our university. In mentioning that to Lisa we came up with a "what if" scenario - and before we knew it, we were putting together an idea to potentially use Jordan Kent (former wide receiver at University of Oregon, former Seattle Seahawks player, currently on the St. Louis Rams roster - and, most importantly strong Christian that has attended CCF) to run a program for the women of our church.
Within a couple of days, we had a team of four women - Lisa, Christy, Steph H., and myself - meeting with Ann, who then had us meeting with our head pastor to determine if such a thing was within his vision for the church. And then, finally, with the director of women's ministry to run the event under that umbrella.
I'm going to be perfectly honest in saying that running this event has not been without its complications. (Hence that blog post that got deleted). But, it's also been a learning experience on a whole realm of levels. And, growth is always good, right? =)
Today is the day it all came down. And in terms of how the event transpired, and the ultimate outcome, I could not be more delighted. It was the warmest day we've had so far in 2010 (God is good, huh?!) - brilliant blue skies so we could play outside, Jordan was absolutely outstanding, and over 100 women were in attendance to participate. But, you want to hear something wild, outside of Steph White (who was oh so helpful!), not one of that "peer group" we had targeted showed up. Yes, there were a few in the 30's-40's age group, but not many. Outside of the four of us organizers, no one from our social circle (that group that hits the pool together, goes camping together, celebrates each others' birthdays - etc.) were present. All told - by the time you trickle out the individual linking friendships, that number came to over twenty women. The twenty women that the four of us had in mind that initiated this whole ministry adventure.
Am I disappointed? Actually, yes. But, it's not as if everyone of these women (that I've at least talked to) didn't have a very legitimate reason for not being there. Whether it be vacationing out of state, family celebrations, or most-often kids' sporting events, families our day (and specifically moms) are just so busy! On a selfish level, I'm glad it wasn't just me running this event, because I might have gotten a complex over the obvious absences! But, that's the joy of recognizing that my narrowed way of seeing things can still be somehow of use to God - as He knew what might motivate me to take part in such an activity, and even though that wasn't His end-game, He used me nonetheless. Praise be to God!
College students, especially, had a blast. The older generation delighted in watching our pastor (who was one of the helping "coaches") show off his football skills of days-gone-by. Everyone enjoyed the cinnamon rolls and fellowship. Jordan Kent is the kind of guy that those under 30 would perhaps want to marry and those over 60 might want to adopt...... But, beyond all that, the highlight of the program was our "special guest". And though this "special guest" wasn't even sure if she had enough courage to set foot on stage, much less show up at all - I think her words impacted everyone the most. It was Jordan's mom, Dianna Kent.
You see, Jordan isn't just a star athlete, he happens to be the son of the head basketball coach of the UO for the last 12 years. - That is until about a month ago, when this coach was told his services would no longer be retained. In addition to that awkwardness, scandal surfaced several years back regarding the coach's marriage and his potential infidelity.
So, you can imagine, with all of those details, which have been widely circulated in our local media - Dianna was horrified that she would walk into a women's' function and be judged. Her current marital status, as she clarified today, is separation. She found out just a couple weeks ago that her sister has cancer - and has been commuting an hour each way to help her out. Even on her drive home from her sister's (past midnight this morning), she was unsure as to whether she would have the courage to speak to us.
But, sure enough, as Stephanie and I were greeting ladies coming through the door, we asked the name of one fine-looking gal wearing a Rams Jersey - and she sheepishly admitted she was Jordan's mom. I think she was delighted that for once she was anonymous and was hoping the rest of the group wouldn't recognize her either (for a change!).
She only spoke for about ten minutes - after Jordan had already charmed the audience with his life story. But her words were vulnerable, full of heart, and packed a punch. Several in the group had teary eyes. I think I was even more moved after she spoke, though - when she was immediately surrounded with women seeking to give her hugs, promise to keep her sister in prayer, and tell her how thankful they were that she shared her heart. How beautiful is the love of Christ!
Outside of some encouraging words spoken, left in comment cards, or on Facebook, we may never know what kind of impact this event really had. It didn't have the impact I thought it would - in the way I thought it would. But, I know an impact was made. And, thank you, Lord, for using me to be a part of it in some small way.