A Note from our new Executive Director, Jennifer Cecil
Someone should have said those words to me last Sunday...
Not that I didn't foresee the change, not that my heart wasn't prepared...but sometimes the reality of certain life changes is simply foreign until you are actually walking in it.
I have mixed emotions in writing this, joy and excitement at what God is doing and His faithfulness, yet sadness at the surrounding circumstances. Laurie and Daryl have stepped down as leaders of After Hours Ministry and have entrusted the ministry to myself and the remaining board members. While the resignation of Laurie and Daryl is a great loss for us, they are acting in obedience to Jesus as they seek to put their marriage first and work on areas that have been a hindrance for them. First and foremost we would ask you to pray for Laurie and Daryl who have been our friends, our leaders and an inspiration in many ways. Pray that God would work ALL things to good and bring complete healing and restoration in their lives. Praise God that He had prepared my heart to step into this calling long before I knew it would come. Praise God for the amazing team of people God has brought together to serve Him in this ministry.
Some of you are not surprised at all by this news (why not?! I am!), some of you are a little surprised but not like "flip my world upside down suprised" and some of you are thinking "what in the world? how? who? what?" I know... well, again for as prepared as I was, my world has indeed flipped upside down. Although, not in a real tangible way as yet (other than the dozen boxes of After Hours Ministry supplies filling up my already full room) but in a way that is dropping me straight to me knees at the realization that God has brought me to this place and only He can lead me through.
If you know me, you know that I love to serve, I love to follow as another leads and do it faithfully. I love to be given specific tasks and to go for it. But now... the roles are reversed, while I have great counsel around me the task of leadership has been given to me. I can see God's hand in every step and know that He will use this to draw me even closer to Him. He has taken me once again out of a place that is comfortable and put me in a place where I will rely more fully on the Holy Spirit than my own abilities.
Some of you are reading this and you're still saying, "wait, wait...a ministry to pimps and prostitutes? how? why?" Great questions. When I was in college and 21 years old, during a time of prayer and personal study God broke my heart for women in prostitution, it was a piercing so deep I wept for hours and knew that I needed to pray for these women and pray about how God would use me to share with them the freedom that can only be received through Christ's shed blood on the cross. I prayed for 7 years...that is a very long time. I had no idea how God would ever bring this to pass in my life, I didn't know any prostitutes, hadn't been one, didn't know where to find one...but I continued to pray as the Lord brought it back time and again and my heart continued to be burdened.
I had been serving at a Bible College in Germany for 3 years and shortly after moving back to California I knew that it was time, I still had NO IDEA how, but it was time. Reality had just planted a church in LA and I thought to myself, "if i planted a church in LA I would reach out to prostitutes" (obviously a very normal thought...not!) and I looked up the church website....there it was, "After Hours ministry, a ministry to pimps and prostitutes"... wow! This was not a coincidence, God had led me here and I guess you could say that from that day forward my life has never been the same (although I suppose we have many of those days in a lifetime). I went to a training class a few weeks later and the rest is history.
Can I just say God is faithful, can I tell you that He gives us the desires of our hearts(that He actually puts them in there!), can I confirm for you that He truly works ALL things to good? I hope to, I hope that through my story you will see the detail of His hand in yours.
I have no idea what this means in the long-term, I have hopes and dreams for this ministry but for the moment I believe God has shown me to take it one step at a time and trust Him. I have total peace and I know He will lead, He will provide...this is His ministry.
Would you take a moment now to pray for one of the folllowing things?
- That God would be glorified not only through this ministry but even in this time of transition
- For vision and direction
- For unity in our team
- For protection over every aspect
- For Laurie and Daryl
- For humility and grace in every moment
"Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and he shall bring it to pass." Psalm 37:3-5