I grew up attending a small Methodist church in Grifton, NC. I thought I was a Christian, but I really didn’t know anything about God. I didn’t understand the Gospel message and how it applied to me. Thankfully, God opened my faith-eyes to see my need for a personal relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus.
It happened when my teenage son returned from a week-long retreat sponsored by Young Life. The minute he returned, I knew something was different in him. He was excited and filled with joy. This was surprising because at the time, our family was really struggling. My husband of 17 years had recently left my two teenagers and me, and the trauma of the divorce was impacting us all deeply.
I was happy to see this change in my son, but it wasn’t until I attended a Young Life banquet with him that I understood the source of the transformation. There, on a stage, he shared how Jesus had touched his life. I was so proud of him but also a bit embarrassed that he hadn’t shared those intimate details with me prior to the event. Turns out, he didn’t think I would understand his newfound faith in Jesus.
“Mom, all I’ve ever heard you pray is a memorized prayer,” he told me. He’d never witnessed me having an intimate relationship with God. Talk about needing a reality check!
I kept an eye on my son. It was obvious that whatever Jesus had done in his life was real, and I knew I needed what he had. So I decided to get serious about my faith.
I found time to spend quiet moments with God. I did devotionals and read the Bible like my son. At first, it was for 5 minutes, then 10, then 30, then an hour. I couldn’t wait to get up each morning for my one-on-one time with God. His Word and presence were healing my broken heart.
Then, I went on a Walk to Emmaus retreat, where I learned how to practically live out God’s Word and to be a true Christ follower. I came to understand that I am called to be like Jesus. I am to serve and love others in practical ways. And then I discovered that I prove my love for God through my obedience to Him (John 14:15).
I went on a hunt through God’s Word to see what He expected of me. I learned God wanted me to be humble instead of prideful, gentle instead of harsh, selfless instead of selfish, forgiving instead of bitter, and generous instead of stingy. God was calling me to be His ambassador on this earth—to represent Him everywhere I went and in everything I do.
As a pharmacist, I had always separated my work from my faith. But God showed me that even as a pharmacist, I could reveal His love to people in simple ways, like by being patient, kind, and helpful.
Serving others isn’t always easy. Not everyone is pleasant and kind. It helps to remember that every person is created in God’s image. He loves them and has fashioned and formed them with His hands for a specific purpose (Psalm 119:73).
Seeing people through God’s eyes changed how I responded to them. It also helped to remember that as I served others, I was serving the Lord (Matthew 25:35–40; Colossians 3:23).
You would think that serving and obeying God’s commands would be burdensome, but it isn’t (1 John 5:3). The more I served others with God in mind, the more joy, peace, and purpose I found. That’s because we are created to serve and to glorify God. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (NIV). When we fulfill God’s desires, we are blessed and refreshed in the process (Proverbs 11:25).
In 1999, my hometown of Grifton was wiped out by a flood brought on by Hurricane Floyd. This crisis brought many opportunities to show the love of God, but they often led me to uncomfortable places. It never failed, though, that when I stepped out in obedience, God always had gifts and treasures waiting for me.
My friend, Betty, dove headlong into crisis response, visiting devastated areas and searching for people in need. I often went with her. One day, Betty asked me to go alone to a remote area and check on a lady named Rachel. I was nervous because I had heard this lady was a bit eccentric, but I decided to trust Betty’s judgment and went.
I’ll never forget that first encounter. Rachel had had very little by the world’s standards even before the flood. Yet, she talked about the Lord the whole time we were together. She had so much joy. When I left, she followed me outside and yelled, “I love you.”
Her words pierced my heart. She had no idea how badly I needed to hear those words nor how much I needed to be loved. But God did, and He used Rachel to bless me. Today, 20 years later, Rachel and I are still great buddies. I thank God for her friendship.
As often happens after a natural disaster, relief support eventually left our area. But there were still so many people impacted long-term by the flood. I decided to use my administrative skills to become an advocate for mental health and medical needs.
I’m sure people were tired of all my “flood talk,” but I was so burdened for those still hurting in the community. I couldn’t look the other way—they needed help. How could I stop serving them? God calls us to help those in need. Proverbs 3:27 says, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.” Serving the flood victims was a privilege.
Years later, God showed me another place to serve—prison. This happened after I met my husband, Ron, who was very involved with Kairos ministry, a national prison outreach. (See his story on page 18.) His love for the incarcerated was contagious and soon, my heart was drawn to help relieve the suffering of inmates too.
Ron and I became very active with a prison reform agency called NC-CURE, but in 2020, the founder of NC-CURE moved out of state. The organization, on the verge of dissolution, asked me to become the executive director and asked Ron to become the chairman of the board.
Ron and I had thought we were ready to retire, but that wasn’t God’s plan for us. (Now that I think about it, I haven’t found a retirement provision from serving the Lord anywhere in the Bible.) We took the positions.
It’s not an easy task to get people onboard with helping those in prison. It’s not popular. But when has God ever called us to do things that are popular? Or comfortable? Or easy, for that matter? He doesn’t.
But what He does do is call us to places and people that will change us forever, for the better. As we do right, seek justice, and defend the oppressed (Isaiah 1:17), God blesses us in unexpected ways (Ephesians 3:20).
If you’ve never experienced the joy of serving others, ask God to open your eyes to opportunities. Let your heart be willing to serve. Then, out of your love for God and His people, step into them. I promise you, you’ll never regret it.