I can’t let another Friday slip by without giving props to a woman loving Jesus through ministry. I’m just going to have to blame it on the hot, lazy days of August here in Michigan. I’m more motivated to go to the beach than write. I’m thinking you understand.
I can’t go very far on Viva La Femme without introducing you to a woman who is very dear to me and inspires me a great deal. I met Linda Adams way back in the early 90’s. She was pastoring a church southwest of Chicago in St. Charles, Illinois while I was living and working more northwest of Chicago near Elgin, Illinois. Even as I worked at a Christian college, God was working at my heart. I would have told you then that I didn’t feel called to ministry but I wanted to support women in ministry, so once in a while I’d drive down to attend her church. Most of the time I went to Willow Creek Community Church (because they had lots of single men, shallow, I know.), which was really cool too because I did get to see women in ministry at all levels in such a large church.
The story of how I came to feel fully God calling me to go to seminary and following the path of full-time ministry is another blog post for a different day. But after I made the decision, or when I was deciding if I should go to seminary, I met Linda for lunch. It was that conversation with her that gave me enough courage to sell my sports car and live on mac and cheese for 3 1/2 years to follow a call in my life. Seriously, I still miss that Celica. Don’t miss mac and cheese though.
Over the years I have had the privilege of living near Linda for brief periods of time. After I went to Asbury Seminary, Linda arrived a year later as a “prestigious” Beeson pastor. And I say prestigious, because it really is something to be asked to come live and study and get a doctorate at Asbury with the Beeson program. They basically pay you to come live for a year and get your doctorate and send you all over the world studying successful ministries.
Then I met Jeremy, and Linda graciously came to Michigan to marry us in June of 1999.
Then I took my first pastorate out of seminary in Brockport, New York, and Linda was pastoring a wonderful city church called New Hope in Rochester, New York. I’ll never forget, about a month after getting to Brockport I had a bad case of depression. I couldn’t figure it out. Here I was, good job, right out of seminary and I was struggling with depression.
Linda came over and pointed several things out to me that made me feel a whole lot better:
1. We were living in an apartment with one table, one couch and a mattress because our house hadn’t sold in Kentucky. I was still living in limbo.
2. Someone had loaned us a couch while we waited for our belongs, which was a very nice thing to do, but the couch smelled like dog. I don’t like dog smell very much. Ok, not at all. It makes me gag. So I had a couch I couldn’t sit on, that made my entire apartment smell like dog.
3. I was also nervous about being “clergy” and my new job. It just seemed overwhelming, and it was. Everyone was super nice to us in Brockport, but transitioning from being a student to a full-fledged pastor isn’t easy. She reminded me it was ok to be overwhelmed.
And through the years she has been my mentor and my guide as I have tried to figure out exactly what ministry should look like in my life. She has reminded me that full-time ministry didn’t really start until her 40’s and that I’m ok going slow professionally. There is life after children.
Most recently Linda has moved to Indianapolis and she has taken over the International Child Care Ministries program with the Free Methodist Church which does something similar to World Vision or Compassion. If you haven’t had a chance to check out one of these programs to sponsor a child, it’s super easy and it’s a wonderful opportunity to help a child get food and an education. For what…..coffee, dinner out, a couple of tickets to the movies every month, you can feed and educate a child. Pretty amazing how easy it really is to be involved with social justice from the comfort of your own home.
So Linda gets to travel around ensuring this program is running smoothly, finding more opportunities for sponsorships and meeting with the families who receive our gifts. Which seems like a totally cool and fun job to me, but probably in reality is pretty draining and emotionally challenging. She’s gone to Haiti several times since the earthquake. I can’t even imagine the things she sees in her travels.
And when I think about whining about something, how frustrated I am about something, I remember what she see’s on a regular basis. Hunger, malnutrition, children dying, mom’s who can’t feed their children, women who are living as sex slaves, women having babies too young for their bodies, people living in fear of gathering to celebrate Jesus and probably more that I would be entirely shocked about that you and I can’t even imagine. She sees it on a regular basis.
So my Viva La Femme pick this Friday is Linda Adams.
Thanks for living as Christ’s hands and feet, Serving His people, all people, with genuine compassion (even me)!
Here’s a really great short video with Linda talking about child-sponsorship questions dealing with children in Haiti.