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Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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Thursday 21st August 2014

When “Going There” Means Actually Going There

When I get all angst-y about something, I do three things:

Pace around the house.
Twirl my hair.
Stare out all of our windows.

If I’ve got my head on halfway straight, I also talk with God during all of that pacing, twirling and staring.

And that’s the way it went down this morning. I walked angst-y laps inside of our house, looking out every direction, and asking God questions like:

“Are you sure, God?”

“Did I hear You, right?”

“For real?”

“But what if I don’t know what I’m doing?”

And then I cleared some space in my heart to hear His answers.

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And it seemed that God was whispering His peace, and His assurance.

His Yes.

That He was telling me it was going to be all right. That I didn’t have to prove anything, or to perform some sort of spiritual acrobatics, or to offer any profound wisdom. And that I was probably right about one thing: I really don’t know exactly what I’m doing, but that’s OK.

I knew He was speaking this to me: That I should simply follow where He leads. 

So that’s what I’m doing. I’m following God.

To Ferguson, Missouri.

Going There.

My friend Deidra Riggs called me Monday and asked if I would pray about traveling to Ferguson with her — to listen to people’s stories, and maybe to write some of those stories. She and I talked about what it would be like to get a first-hand look at what’s been happening in Ferguson, to talk to people doing good work there, and to see how the Church can lead better in times like this.

You may remember me talking about Deidra in a blog post earlier this month. Back on August 7, I wrote on this blog that I was a “white girl from rural Iowa … and I’m #GoingThere.”

#GoingThere was a figurative concept for me, not an actual place. It was an expressed willingness to sit at the table and have important conversation about race, reconciliation and diversity. It was all a bit fuzzy to me, but my heart was all in.

That was two days before Ferguson was a news headline.

In the blog post, I wrote: “I want to get off the sidelines and onto the field. I don’t know exactly what this looks like, but I”m not willing to sit on the sidelines anymore. … I’m #GoingThere.”

This week, Deidra asked me to pray about Going There … for real. To Ferguson. Not just with my heart, but with my feet.

So I prayed. And my husband prayed. And the next day, I gave Deidra my yes. Because my husband and I felt like we’d heard God’s yes.

Deidra and I leave Friday — as friends and as colleagues with The High Calling. And we’d love for your prayers to go with us. When we arrive, we’ll meet Lisha EppersonNish Weiseth and Preston Yancey.

All of us are storytellers,
and we pray that we are also story-listeners.

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After all that pacing, twisting and window-gazing this morning, I spent some time in the Scripture and was drawn into the Book of James. I read the whole of James, but these are the words that have stuck with me all day:

“Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue.” James 1:19 (The Message)

So I’m Going There. To Ferguson. And I’m letting my ears lead me. I’m going there to listen and to learn. And then, I’ll write.

But not before I listen. Not before I serve.

And not before I learn.

RELATED: Deidra’s post about our upcoming trip. Will you pray with us?

 

 

 

  • Jody Ohlsen Collins

    I am speechless. Bravery doesn’t even capture it. Tears are falling as I write, sister, unexpected tears. Our God is mighty–be safe!

    • Tears, mixed with yours, dear sister. Grateful for your support and friendship and prayers, especially for those in Ferguson, doing the hard work of reconciliation. I’m an observer and a learner, and I pray that I can encourage with my stories, God-willing.

  • Sharon O

    Oh I am so praying. For a thousand angels to march beside you like they did in the old testament. I am praying a hedge of protection around you and before you. I am praying for peace to follow you and rest to be within your heart and spirit. I am praying for words of healing and power and for stories to come from all sides.

    • So grateful for your prayers, Sharon.

  • sandi

    Bravo!! How exciting to go where God sends you….even when you don’t even know what will happen next. You are a light and God will indeed shine through you. I will be praying, so please keep us informed!

    • Trusting God, and thanking hIm for prayer partners like you, Sandi. Pray that we can find and share the very best stories, that those stories can shine light and hope.

  • KristinHillTaylor

    Praying for you, sweet friend. I’m looking forward to hearing more about this story God’s writing through you and your friends.

    • I so appreciate your prayer support, Kristin. xo

  • S.Etole

    Adding my prayers for all of you.

    • Thank you, Susan. Much love to you.

  • Lynn D. Morrissey

    Praying!!!!!!!!

    • Thank you so much, Lynn. I am so sorry we didn’t let you know earlier that we were headed your way. This has come together rather quickly. Very grateful for your prayers. xoxoxo

      • Lynn D. Morrissey

        jennifer I hope you got my email last night. Of course, I had no idea you were coming, and my email details a # of scheduling conflicts I had today. I read your and D’s post at 8:30 last night, when it would not have been possible to telephone people to cancel these engagements (one of which was a rehearsal for a memorial service where I am singing on Sunday). But just know how much I wanted to have been available for any of your needs–would have picked you up at the airport if you flew or met you there at Ferguson’s Ground Zero, as it’s being called, had you driven (and I offered Michael;’s services to you, too. He would have been happy to help.) I have been praying continuously for you and Deidra and your team, knowing how much God has guided this journey, knowing He has equipped you all with big hearts and deep minds and compassion and writing skills to be able to capture pathos and truth and light. I will be so eager to read what you have written. And Jennifer, the utter significance did not escape me of your first “going there” post a couple of days ago, before the tragedy in Ferguson had occurred. After I read your blog last night and your plans to head out on God’s mission to MO, I knew that God had been working on your heart previously to prepare you for the journey He would assign. Indeed, Deidra, you, the others are Esthers (well, we’ll think of a name for the gentleman! :-)…..but you each have been raised up for such a time as this. No question. Call if you need to, and I am praying! I left my and Mike’s #s in the email.
        Love
        Lynn

  • I love you, Jennifer. I am absolutely praying. I look forward to hearing from you all.

    • I love you, too, and I thank you for your prayers.

  • Megan Willome

    Oh, yes. Just left a prayer on Deidra’s website. Can’t think of a better team, both to go there and to support the going there. I’ll be praying for all of you, Jennifer.

    • Grateful for your prayers for all of us, and especially for the people in the gritty middle. May we observe and serve and love and learn well from the people we meet. xo (((Megan)))

  • Awesome, Jennifer. Good for you for putting yourself in the game! I’m anxious to hear your thoughts about your experiences. Thank you for your courage!

    • Thank you, Natalie. “Going There” has moved beyond the figurative. Pray for us?

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  • Prayers lifted.

    • Much, much appreciated, Beth.

  • Kate

    Read Deidra’s post before I read yours, and I can’t think of a better team. Can’t wait to go with you in spirit, and to live vicariously through your words. So appreciate your heart here, and as I’ve already said to Deidra, I’m praying for the Lord to provide divine appointments for each of you. May the Church see the fruit of this labor of obedience.

    • Really grateful for you tonight, Kate.

  • Kelley Maranto Mathews

    What a team. I’ll be praying for all involved and look forward to the stories you will share.

    • Thank you so much, Kelley. Pray that we listen well, and that we share stories that elevate the good work that so many people are doing in Ferguson. And that we can learn and share about how the Church can do better in times like these. I appreciate you.

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  • My heart can’t stop singing these lyrics from For King & Country.

    “It takes a soldier
    Who knows his orders
    To walk the walk I’m supposed to walk
    And love like I’m not scared
    Give when it’s not fair
    Live life for another
    Take time for a brother
    Fight for the weak ones
    Speak out for freedom
    Find faith in the battle
    Stand tall but above it all
    Fix my eyes on you”

    Praying for all of you!

    • Thank you for your prayers, Rachel. Really appreciate this, and you.

  • IfMeadowsSpeak

    Yes! And I wish I was there with you, but just know I’m with ya’ll in spirit. Also, I’ve been watching the twitter threads and getting myself all angst-y at night that I’ve been having dreams about Ferguson. I’d love to see some twitter feedback when you are on the ground. May God bless this endeavor to reach in ways only He can.

  • Holy Spirit, give Jennifer ears to hear, an open heart and the words, when the time is right, to convey. Love you, girl. Go do #goodwork.

  • Ears to hear, eyes to see, and a heart full of compassion. Much love to you, Jennifer.

  • lindalouise

    Oh yes, Jennifer. I’ll be praying for all of you . My prayer for myself these days has been the one Annie posted. What a “coincidence!” Praying He will give you eyes to see, ears to hear and heart that is soft and quick to obey. Praying too for your protection and safe travels. I am so looking forward to listening and learning. I’m proud of you sweet sister. So proud of you.

  • Simone Dankenbring

    Praying that God will give you words to penetrate hearts. I have a huge feeling that this is going to be an eye opening, God filled experience. Be safe, you guys!!!

  • Caryn Jenkins Christensen

    “And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” 2 Cor. 5:18 May the Lord anoint you all for this task and may the Lord be lifted up and glorified through your obedience to His call. <3

  • pastordt

    Oh, my! What a great group!! God with God, all of you. Praying for safety, insight, wisdom, connection. Love to you – lots and lots of it.

  • Kathy Schwanke

    Who might be better fitted for such a task? He goes before you, leads you, fills you, equips you, empowers you. Thank you Lord for your Spirit dwelling within Jennifer. Thank you that you have gifted her for this mission and that your gifts and call are secured in her. Direct her steps Lord, lead her to your appointments, to the stories that will bring you glory and bring healing and unity to your people. Make yourself known through your daughter. Thank you that wherever Jennifer goes, it is you going and you bring life and truth and blessing. Anoint her heart, and her pen Jesus. <3

  • SO excited to read this, and I can’t wait to hear the stories that come out of this.

  • My prayers will indeed be #GoingThere with y’all. xox

  • Sarah

    Praying for you all!

  • “But not before I listen. Not before I serve. And not before I learn.” Yes.

    I have an ache to go there with you. But I will be with you in heart and spirit. And prayer. Definitely prayer. xoxo

  • Thank you for being our feet and helping us actually go there. Love you so dearly.

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  • Praying for you all… It is amazing to watch… To watch God move on people’s heart in very tangible ways… To witness a love for God that goes beyond words…and I count it a privilege to be an eye witness… To be able to pray for you all. Blessing and grace as you go… This is the scripture that came to mind for you all this morning… The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

    • Daniel Farrow

      May I also include this scripture: ‘Have I not commanded you? Be strong & courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’ – Joshua 1:9

  • Jennifer, this has been your most inspiring post yet. And before you shake your head and say that it’s not you, it’s Him, I know that. But your obedience to the call is something that all of us can be inspired by.

    I live in Missouri. Nearly two hours from the epicenter of this disaster. Fear has overcome me on numerous occasions and I’ve had no words to write or even words to speak as the effects hit my own city. It divides us. Harsh words fly as the lines of segregation we foolish tell ourselves don’t exist are built back up as law enforcement is increased in and around our college campus that is primarily African American.

    My hands are not dirty from doing the lifting of what it takes to help in a situation like this, but they are clasped together. My head is bowed. And it will continue to be as you and these brave ladies travel to a place I wish I had the nerve to go.

    I pray for your safety. I pray for your ears, eyes and hearts to be open. And then I pray for God to speak through you in a mighty way through your prose.

    Godspeed, my friend. And may His peace go with you…

  • Praying for you and so grateful that you’re going. You are a great listener, and I trust that God will use you to hear and to share what the people of Ferguson are saying.

  • Daniel Farrow

    I’m praying deeply and urgently for you in this Jennifer. I’ve lived through something similar to what’s going on in Ferguson, Missouri right now, and I pray that the Lord’s stories will shine through to you as you tell the stories that are waiting for you there. Jesus please keep Deidra & Jennifer in your presence as they do this and go there. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

  • Emily Wierenga

    I love you so much. Keep your ear tuned to the Holy Spirit and He will lead you into the hearts of His people. May His anointing be upon you dear Jennifer.

  • “…I’ll write. But not before I listen. Not before I serve. And not before I learn.”

    Some of the best words I’ve ever read. Not fancy or flashy words, but they cut right to the heart, the very core of what it means to follow Jesus and love others for His name’s sake. My heart and my prayers are with you, friend! So proud of you and grateful for the way He’s graciously led you to this place.

  • Sharita Knobloch

    Just got this post via email right before I left for a prayer walk. You and the Go-There team are now added to my prayer list. <3

  • Janet

    Oh my goodness, Jennifer – I can’t think of anyone better to listen to and write the stories of the people of Ferguson – “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” Sierra and I will be praying for all of you, a prayer of protection, a prayer for community, a prayer for compassion and understanding, and a prayer for peace –

  • marthaorlando

    Prayers for you, Jennifer and for Deidra! May your presence in Ferguson bring God’s message of love and grace to many.

  • June

    Praying for you all as you listen, serve and learn.

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  • Loved As If

    “‘I want to get off the sidelines and onto the field. I don’t know
    exactly what this looks like, but I”m not willing to sit on the
    sidelines anymore. … I’m #GoingThere.'”

    What gloriously dangerous words. Such words, such desires invite God to take us on adventures we haven’t begun to glimpse at. How fortunate you are.

    You, Deidre and the other women God has called together will be in my prayers. Love as you have been and are loved. I’m convinced, you all can do this.

    Drusilla Barron (http://lovedasif.com)

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  • Yes. Diversity as a concept is very appealing. But reality takes a different kind of muster. I’m proud of you for stepping up and stepping into the fire.

  • Nancy Ruegg

    What a fine choice God made in sending you to Ferguson with Deidra! You ARE a listener, and you’re compassionate and wise as well. A perfect set of attributes for a hurting city. I’ll be adding my prayers to the dozens below, that God’s Spirit will work through the two of you for his glorious purpose. His strength and courage will be with you!

Won't lie. The last few days = 💩. The antidote for bad days and everything else 💩-ish is 80s music. Of course. Go… ift.tt/2imGws5 pic.twitter.com/PhOLeR7L2C