Who needs to hear your story of God’s redemption?

Note: This is an excerpt from Jodi’s book– Depth: Growing Through Heartbreak to Strength.

I am still in awe about how God used my story.

Across the globe in Rwanda, Africa, our Saddleback Church Kids Small Group (KSG) team gathered for our final morning meeting.

Just eleven days earlier, my youngest son graduated from elementary school and together, we boarded a plane with seven sixth grade child-and-parent duos. People that had started as mere acquaintances had since become lifelong friends after two long ten-hour plane rides and a full week of ministry.

Serving others in need in the country of Rwanda, previously known for its genocide but now recognized for its reconciliation and forgiveness, had undeniably bonded and changed us for the better.

As we visited preschools and churches as well as homes, our incredible team enthusiastically shared the love of Jesus. Each day, we huddled to talk about how we saw God moving in people’s lives. We enjoyed hearing students and adults tell their highs and lows. Our time in Rwanda had been exciting and fruitful, but as we began our final day there, we also realized it had been exhausting.

When we were done worshipping, our team leader, Liza, shared that we would be visiting Mama Joy’s ministry as our last stop on the way to our debrief. Mama Joy helped women get off the streets by teaching them life skills like sewing and hairstyling. “I need one of you to teach devotional or speak some words of encouragement to these women today,” Liza offered. Knowing we were all emotionally and physically depleted from the long days of outreach, she added, “Please pray and ask God if He is calling you to share.”

Honestly, as I walked back to my room, I was completely unaware of the “God assignment” right in front of me.

I plopped down on my bed and stretched out my tired muscles. Each day, we had labored for twelve hours. As I dragged myself to start parking for the journey home, my eyes caught a glimpse of my cracked clay pot. 

I had brought that same pot with me to Rwanda four years before when I came with my older son, Kyle. Earlier that year, God had opened my eyes to the beauty in brokenness when I purposely cracked a ceramic piece in my backyard. Even though I was willing to tell my story, no opportunity had presented itself that trip, so the pot had come back home with me.

Now, as I stared at the pot again, I knew I had become a completely different woman. God had been growing me and developing within me a powerful message of hope born out of my difficulties. In my heart, I heard the Lord say, “Just like your clay pot, these women are broken. I want you to share your testimony on brokenness.”

God was calling me to speak.

Honestly, part of me wanted to run away in fear. For a split second, I thought, No one else knows that God asked me to tell my story. But I knew that I would regret it if I refused to be faithful in His direction, regardless of how tired or scared I might be.

Picking up my broken pot, I went and found my team leader. “Has anyone else felt called to share to the women?” I asked. She shook her head. I showed her my pot and explained what I felt God wanted me to say. “You are on when we get there,” she happily confirmed.

To say that I was nervous was an understatement. I had never before stood in front of a group of women and shared my story. Emotions heightened, my eyes kept filling with tears as I boarded the bus to head to Mama Joy’s.

At first, I thought I was feeling concerned about whether or not I was prepared, but as I sat quietly and reflected, I knew deep in my heart that God had been preparing me for a long time. Thinking through what I’d written in my recent blog posts on brokenness, I realized God was just asking me to share the life message that I’d already been writing about.

God never wastes a hurt! He specializes in turning our pain into His purpose.

All I had to do was trust that He would give me the specific words to speak to the precious African women.

So, in a tiny alley on the streets of Rwanda, I poured out my heart and shared my broken story. 

Holding up my cracked clay pot, I told them how my world had been turned upside down and inside out when I had my miscarriage and how my heart had been shattered into a million pieces when I went through my divorce. Through it all, I declared how God’s love and comfort had met me in the middle of my heartbreak.

With fresh tears, I encouraged the women to remember that God would take their brokenness and turn it into something beautiful.

The horrible circumstances they had endured, the painful moments they had felt alone, the tears they had shed—God would not waste any of it.

To continue reading, click the link to my guest post on the Freed to Flourish website.

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