Do you have know those people that you totally look up to? Those that are doing awesome things? Doing awesome things as they allow God to use their giftings and their passions? And while at the same time, making a Kingdom impact as well as an impact on the lives of others… the lives of people who are born into extreme poverty and will very likely live their entire lives in poverty? Do you know what I’m talking about? Do you have someone in your life like that?
I’ve got two. Two ministry giants. Two women who are serving in amazing ways in countries that are not their own. Two women who have given their lives to Christ and to His service. Wanna meet them? Because I want to introduce you.
The first is Vicki Penwell. Vicki has been a midwife for 30+ years and has lived and worked in the Philippines for 20+ years. Vicki was my preceptor for my midwifery studies and with whom I spent 7 blessed weeks with in the Philippines in April and May 2012. She and her family have a nonprofit organization, Mercy In Action, that provides free maternity care to pregnant women. To date, this organization has delivered over 12,000 babies free of charge!
The second is Beth McHoul. Beth and her family have been in Haiti for 20+ years and have dedicated their lives to living and serving there. They too have their own nonprofit organization, Heartline Ministries. The last 6 years, Heartline has also provided maternity care, delivery support and education to pregnant and postpartum women, again, free of charge!
Now the difference between these two ladies is that I’ve known Vicki for 3 years when a friend of our family introduced me to her. I’ve worked closely with her, been up at all hours of the night with her, sweated beside her while shepherding laboring women and their babies into the world. I’ve been a student of hers and she’s been a friend, a teacher, a mentor. Beth, on the other hand, I’d never met… just read about their awesome ministry after a friend posted a blog of hers on Facebook. God uses Facebook. I was intrigued by this ministry in Haiti. Inspired. Encouraged. I contacted them and asked questions and received answers about the way they do things down there but had never once exchanged emails with Beth. I had read her blog, perused their website, knew what she looked like… some may call it stalking, whatever.
They both had become ministry giants for me. They were doing what I have dreamt of doing. They were doing it effectively in countries they love with the people they love. They were doing it with passion and God was passionately changing lives in only the ways He can.
Fast forward to August 2012 when I was at a NARM study retreat in Idaho. Vicki was offering this intense study retreat the week before my midwifery exams. It was a no-brainer, I had to go. I knew it would be incredibly beneficial for my test preparation. And the added bonus was being reunited with Vicki and talking midwifery and ministry with her. What happened next blew my mind.
There it was 8am on Monday morning, the first day of our study retreat. We were sitting in the living room as the last few ladies came in to join the group. Someone caught my eye. I thought, “hey, I know her… or at least I’ve seen pictures of her”. I watched from across the room as she wrote her name on her name tag… Beth. I almost flipped out. Not like a star-struck flip out… but like a God-struck flip out!
God brought these two women, 1 from the Philippines, 1 from Haiti, myself from Madagascar and here we were the three of us, converging in Idaho for 6 full days together. My two ministry giants in ONE place at the same time. God’s goodness. God’s blessing. God’s encouragement. God’s affirmation.
The next six days was just this. Goodness, blessing, encouragement, affirmation as we shared ministry joys and struggles, victories and defeats. God allowed me to be with them. To learn from them. To take notes. God’s goodness. His plan. His grace. So, so good.