Ms. N and her sister grew up in Jerusalem and taught us so many fascinating things about Jewish Christian tradition, how to make tabouli and they even taught us a few words in Arabic- Habibi means sweetheart! Ms. N had been a widow for many years and never had any children of her own, however she served as a matriarch figure for many, especially her niece and nephew. At their request, Abiding Hearts came alongside Ms. N’s widowed sister to help care for her in a battle against cancer. They showed us and taught us so much about sacrificial love, family unity and commitment. We watched week after week for 2 long years as Ms. N’s widowed sister left her life in another state and gave all that she had to serving her older sister. It was beautiful, humbling, challenging and priceless-a true display of the self sacrificing love of Christ! Ms. N and her family became a part of our forever family and we have been blessed by them!
Ms. N loved to talk about Jerusalem and Ramallah, the village that she grew up in. She loved to collect camels and said that they reminded her of when the wise men traveled far on camels in search of the One True King. Ms. N gave us one of her special camels to remind us that although the wise men traveled far seeking Jesus, Jesus traveled even further when He left His throne in heaven in pursuit of us. The wise men crossed the desert to find Jesus; but, Jesus crossed the supernatural cosmos and entered the darkest realm of Sheol to find and rescue us!
Leigh Cunningham faithfully served Ms. N and her sister alongside us week after week. We would appreciate you reading about Abiding Hearts Ministry from her perspective:
I had a wonderful experience serving with Abiding Hearts Ministry. It all started with a little extra time. I had heard Courtney and Randy talking about their ministry and thought it sounded wonderful. I was really blessed by their desire to care for widows in our community. At first, I just decided that I could help when they expressed a need for meals to share with the widows they were serving. After a while of doing that, I realized I had extra time in my week that I wanted to use to be helpful in other ways. I talked to Courtney and Randy and before long I was planning to go with them to meet a couple of ladies that they were serving. I showed up with them one day with a plan to clean the bathroom while they tended to the widows. I walked in to meet two sweet sisters and little did I really know the blessings that lay ahead of me. The plan was for me to help serve them by cleaning and helping them with shopping. Serving them proved to be so much more. I was blessed to get to know these two beautiful women. Ms. T was there helping to care for her sister, Ms. N, as she was battling cancer. It was a blessing to see how much care she put into helping her sister get everything she needed. She would fix her favorite meals and special smoothies to boost her health. Occasionally, I would help Ms. T cook. She made a number of dishes that they had eaten while growing up in Jerusalem. She taught me to make Za’tar. Ms. T did all of this while often suffering with her own health issues. When Ms. T was sick, Ms. N would do her best to care for her. They truly cared for one another. When Ms. T had to go home to Jacksonville for a short trip was when I really got to spend some time getting to know Ms. N. She shared so many stories of what it was like to grow up in Jerusalem. She told me all about her mother and father and all of her brothers and sisters. I learned how she came to the United States and some of her life here. Ms. N even taught me a little Arabic. The pinnacle of my Arabic lessons was watching the inauguration with her in Arabic. I can honestly say I never expected to do that. Unfortunately, Ms. N’s health began to fail and it was obvious that the end was near. Ms. T continued to work so hard to make sure that her sister was comfortable and had everything she needed. It was so encouraging to me to see her love for her sister in action. I genuinely witnessed sacrifice for love. We prayed and tried to encourage them through Ms. N’s final days. Looking back on it now, I know how privileged I was to get to know these ladies and be a part of this journey with them. We prayed and encouraged one another. I saw highs and lows and saw the Spirit at work in all of it. It was very sad to lose Ms. N, but what a joy it will be to be reunited some day in the presence of Jesus. Ms. T has returned to Jacksonville, but there is a deep and lasting bond there. These women are family now.