"Let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven." AND, "The world will know that you are Mine by the way you love one another."
This kind, loving and generous man welcomed us into his home and his family almost 5 years ago. His time here on earth came to an end a few months ago and we now have the privilege of continuing to take care of his widow. Moments after his passing we got to see the fruition of Matthew 5:16 and John 13:35 has his family expressed in astonishing words that they had seen the very presence of God in our love towards them, and that they had never seen such a love before-that is must be God! And, indeed it was! To Christ be all the glory and thanks for our time with this precious friend.
We are so thankful for our brothers and sisters in Christ who faithfully serve with us day in and day out! Ms. J has been a part of our Abiding Hearts family for going on 5 years now! Praise GOD!!!
Precious memories of our last year together. This beautiful lady was a shining example of Christs' love, gentleness, kindness, patience, sincerity, and grace. Our 4 1/2 years with her will always be one of the greatest treasures of our hearts. We praise God for her, her life and our time with her!
Our heart is to visit the widowed and elderly in their distress. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: “to look after (or to visit) orphans and widows in their distress” (James 1:27). The Lord has given us the incredible privilege of looking after many precious souls over the last several years; and, as many of you know we have said goodbye (for now) to 4 of them in recent months. Most recently, we held hands with Ms. N and her family and literally sang her into the presence of Jesus where at once her faith became her sight and cancer was no more! Some of the last sweet words we heard her say were “Jesus, come get me.”
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.
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you LOVE one another
May 1, 1931 - August 28, 2017
My choice to be a stay-at-home mom has meant that I have been volunteering almost all of my adult life. When my girls were in preschool I taught Sunday School and AWANA classes. When they were in elementary school I volunteered in the library and was team mom for soccer and softball. High school meant PTF and marching band. Then last year I found myself with my girls mostly grown and some extra time on my hands. I was a nurse for 6 years and was praying for an opportunity to do something health care related. Abiding Hearts answered that prayer. When I contacted Courtney, she connected me with an elderly couple who had significant needs. Mrs. Carolyn had recently become bedridden and Mr. George, at age 91, was doing his best to care for his beloved wife and keep up with the chores. These two quickly found a special place in my heart. I would go to their house thinking I was ministering to them and leave feeling so blessed. Their love for each other and the Lord was inspirational, and they always thanked me for coming. When we prayed together, I would ask how I could pray for them. They always asked me to pray for others in their life even though they had needs of their own.
Then in the summer we could see signs that Mrs. Carolyn’s body was beginning to shut down. She passed away in August. After a brief time away to let the family heal, I resumed my visits with Mr. George. He tells me that I brighten his day, but it’s truly he who brightens mine. His faith in God and love for others hasn’t wavered a bit. And he still has the little glass angel hanging over his bed that I brought to Mrs. Carolyn before she died. She used to say that I was her angel, but now it reminds Mr. George and I that she is singing with the angels in heaven and waiting for the time when he and she will be together again.
~Testimony of Cathy~
It is more blessed to give
Ms. Peggy~July 2, 1928-October 8, 2017
After having three babes within a year I was discouraged with how I would be able to serve outside of my family, but God is so good to continue to lead exactly where he wants you. I had felt the Lord's spirit prompting me to reach out to Courtney and ask about serving with Abiding Hearts despite having three infants. She asked if I would be willing to take myself and my babes to a couple of women in particular that would love to hold babies and have company. The Lord was at work and already answering prayers. Ms Peggy was one of the women Courtney had me meet with. I remember the first time I met her, she did not say much and I was nervous about how time with her would go. As I continued to meet with her, her heart was slowly revealed. Ms Peggy lived simply and believed simply, God loves me so I love others. I have had a personal struggle of feeling that myself or my kiddos might feel burdensome to others and the Lord used Ms. Peggy to break through that lie the enemy planted inside of me. She delighted in seeing myself and my kiddos. Crying babes did not deter her desire for us to remain with her, she would simply join me in rocking whomever needed it. My son is not won over as easily as my twin girls and I remember week after week she tried to find things to win his affections. She tried little toys with no luck. One week when we came to visit she finally won him over with animal crackers. Every visit after that she excitedly surprised Daniel with animal crackers. I can still see him running into her house and expectantly searching for treats he knew she would have for him. I can still see her sitting in her rocker and pulling out a small tupperware where she portioned out the exact amount of animal crackers she intended to give him. I can still hear her saying, "Daniel, look here, I've got some animal crackers," and Dan running into her lap to win his prize. I don't think he was ever hungry for dinner on days we spent with Ms. Peggy and that was just fine with me. It delighted my heart to see him full of joy, in her lap eating animal crackers. It is hard to think about Ms. Peggy without tears of joy. She loved well and delighted in the Lord and in His love for her. And here the humor of God lies because while I thought I was being called to serve, the Lord tremendously blessed myself and my kiddos in allowing us time with Ms. Peggy.
~Testimony of Whitney~
“The grace of God has appeared” and Christ has manifested Himself to us and through us in so many ways this year as we have cared for the widow, sick and elderly through Abiding Hearts Ministry. God has given us countless opportunities to grow in faith and dependence upon Him; and, time after time again, He has proven faithful to guide us day by day. Many of you ask us, “how is ministry?” In pondering the best way to respond, these words come to mind-
Bitter Sweet, Unexpected, Complicated, Hard, Precious, Thankfulness……….
In the last 5 months we have experienced great loss and great joy as we have engaged wholeheartedly in life-on-life discipleship purposed relationships. We have walked alongside two of our widows as they walked through the valley of the shadow of death and into the presence of Jesus; and, even now we are taking those same steps with two other widows. Our prayer is that these two ladies will also be welcomed into the presence of Jesus, but with heavy hearts we have concern as to whether or not they truly have been reconciled to God through faith in Christ. Pray hard that in these last days we boldly and lovingly continue to show Jesus in undeniable ways through our words and actions, and that God works mightily through us to draw them to Himself.
This year we have experienced great disappointment and frustration at the efforts of the enemy to prey upon the widow in weakness and oppression. But, Praise God we have also experienced the power of God enable us to stand in the gap when a widow could not stand for herself. We have seen a lonely widow’s broken family dissolve even further. But, Praise God we have also seen the power of God reconcile a lonely widow’s family after years of separation and brokenness. We are better learning not to underestimate God’s timing and God’s ways; and, we have seen firsthand what he can do through quality time spent investing in someone.
Needless to say this year in many ways has been unexpectedly busy, difficult and time intensive. We appreciate your patience in receiving ministry updates from us. Very little time is left at the end of the day to put ministry into words to share. However, those of you who pray for and support Abiding Hearts are just as much a part of this ministry as we are; and, we truly desire to share with you all that God is doing day by day. It will bless you and it will draw you closer to Jesus as it does us. It is truly precious and awe provoking to see Him as the Defender of the widow and the oppressed!
We deeply love those that God has brought into our lives through Abiding Hearts. We love this ministry and we are so thankful for the volunteers that faithfully serve with us every single week. This ministry is a beautiful picture that resembles the description of the early church in the book of Acts, and we are so thankful to be a part of what God is doing to advance His kingdom and gather His people.
On special days like Mother's Day when families gather together to give thanks and celebrate, this widow said that she "usually just closes the door and the blinds and waits for the day to pass." Mother's day is particularly hard for her because she has been all alone for so long and always feels the deep pain of having lost her only son many years ago.
BUT GOD, is faithful to His word and has proven Himself to be the Defender of the widow, close to the brokenhearted and gracious to set the lonely in families!
So, this year on Mother's day this precious widow says that she will smile with joy and her heart will be warm because God has placed her in the Abiding Hearts family.
We were so thankful and blessed by this testimony so we just had to share it !!!!
God is so so good!
We all have a story, a journey uniquely our own, beautifully designed by our loving God.
Through God's grace Abiding Hearts Home Care Ministry serves many widowed and sick people from diverse walks of life and we have the privilege of sharing with you some of
Ms. A: My grandmother always took us to church. It was so important to her that we go to church and she always had us there. As far back as I can remember my faith was just a part of my life. Somehow I just knew that it was where I belonged and it is where I wanted to be. I just always figured that God had put that into my heart, gave me that disposition and made me want to pursue peace and what was right."
Life Scripture: Psalm 23
Ms. P: I was sprinkled as a little girl and then in my twenties I started going to a church. Just me and my son went because my husband would not go with me. I really liked the preacher there and the way he preached the Bible. I was baptized in that church and my son was baptized with me. For me, I think that when you hit your knees your just ready to go, to completely surrender.
Mr. G: I was saved when I was 10 years old. My mother had witnessed to me one morning before going to church and she told me about my sin and my need for Christ Jesus. I thought about it all day and that Sunday night when they gave the alter call I was the first one to come forth. I asked Jesus to come into my life.
Life Scripture: Romans 8:18
Ms. N: My daddy and my aunt always took us to the temple all the time. We grew up in old town Jerusalem and I have always known about Yahweh. As a little bitty girl I was taught to always give thanks for everything: our health, our home, our food, our family, our clothes, everything. Without God, without Jesus, we have nothing. Always, always I believe in Jesus.