Welcome! Jenn here. Twenty…no wait, even 5 years ago, I never would have imagined my life the way it is now. I could not be more in awe of the unexpected “God things” that I believe changed my life and have allowed me to work with some amazing people. I love my life. I love the difference in me. What am I talking about you ask? Great question…
I became a believer in Jesus Christ when I was 14 years old. It took more than a decade for me to discover what that truly meant and how to live in the freedom that is Jesus. By 2008, my life looked great on the outside, but was empty and dry inside. I had situations in my life that I felt were sucking the life out of me and I couldn’t shake them. I remember laying on the floor of a locked bathroom in DC planning how to take my life that would least burden my family. I honestly thought there was nothing left to live for. The next day I was walking home from the metro where I said to God, “If you really are real, and if you actually love me… you have to take this situation from me. I’m not strong enough to do it”. An hour later, that very situation was taken from me and my road of healing and spiritual growth in Christ began.
by 2012, the “things” in my life started to feel heavy and burdensome, which was strange because I LOVED my things. They were (mostly) nice and I worked hard to get them. But, slowly I started to give things away or sell them. I believed God was bringing big change. I knew in my heart I was being called to move to Haiti. By January 2013 opportunities began to find me. In April 2013 I quit my career in DC (which I loved) and by of May 2013, I had moved to Haiti.
I worked with a number of different organizations and was able to get a firm grasp of the language, the geographical lay of the land and really get to know the people. I once spent 2 days traveling over mountains on the back of a moto with a chicken tied to my seat. Although I can say I started to adapt to the culture fairly quickly, I cannot say I understood it. I think that is something that is true for most people who move into a new culture. We adapt, but some things we can never fully understand. Rather, we learn to respect and appreciate differences.
I worked with street kids in Cap-Haitien, Haiti until the fall of 2015. I love these kids deeply; although street kids are rough they are still kids who desire relationship and love just like the rest of us. I saw beautiful transformations in these boys. Angry, rowdy and illiterate kids transformed to loving, fun and considerate good students who developed hearts for serving their communities. Just before my time with these kids in Haiti came to an end, 24 boys made professions of faith and chose to be baptized. It was the highlight of my time with Streethearts.
Living in Haiti I was exposed to amazing beautify and also some pretty crazy and tragic encounters. Noticing that my heart had started to harden to protect myself from the pain of certain situations, I had to make a conscious choice to choose joy. I had stepped out in faith years before and “quit” the life I had otherwise known, not so that I could be hardened by traumatic situations, but so I can love even when it’s hard.
May of 2015, while still living in Haiti, I felt strongly I needed to reach out to a missionary couple working in eastern Congo. I pushed it off as long as possible because “I was busy”… or at least that was my excuse. Finally, I sent a very simple e-mail to Esther and Camille Ntoto, the couple I had met two years earlier. It basically said: “What are your needs?”.
Esther replied back that she’d been praying for two years that I (or someone like me) would come work with them. I already had the strong impression that my life was headed in this direction before I sent the e-mail. Her reply was just the confirmation I needed. In January 2016 I moved to Goma to work with Un Jour Nouveau (or Africa New Day as they are known in the US).
They are a Congolese NGO focused on leadership and raising up a generation who have a positive understanding of who they are to combat some of the worse sexual atrocities in the world. They also combat social stigmas related to sexual violence already culturally in place. I had an amazing experience working with them and they became part of my family and I of theirs.
My passion is discipleship. Building relationships founded on the biblical truth of Jesus Christ and seeing God transform the lives of people I love in the same crazy ways He transformed mine. Understanding positive identity and individuality, I believe allows us to become who we were created to be.
I love my life. I love my work. My ministry is funded by donation only. Thank you to everyone who supports me. I am able to do my life’s work because of the generous financial contributions of people like you. Many of you who support me do not believe in the God I serve. I thank you all, no matter your belief, for putting your confidence in the faith I have for Jesus, to whom I devote my life.