Almost two years ago, I got a call from an editor at a parenting magazine asking if I wanted to write a story about a local mom for their Mother’s Day issue. The mom was Jenny Williamson, Founder of Courage to Be You… Would I be interested?
It turns out Jenny and I go to the same church. In fact, two weeks before that phone call, I’d heard her speak at a Girlfriend’s Night. I was also involved in MOPS at the time and she’d spoken at one of our events earlier in the year. And while I didn’t know her personally, I had already been inspired by her.
Of course I said yes.
I interviewed Jenny and learned about all the ways C2BU was helping kids who were victims of sex trafficking. The overall mission of the organization—to equip, empower and encourage people to live out their purpose in life—gripped me at my core, and I had a strange sense right from the beginning that getting asked to write the article was no accident.
As part of my “research” for the piece, I went to a Courage House benefit concert where the music and stories about young girls being held captive and forced into prostitution made my heart literally ache. I was there on a “work” assignment, but forget the professionalism. I cried my eyes out as I was faced with the reality of what so many children endure.
The tug on my heart was fierce. And at the end of the night, when Jenny got on stage and put a call out for others to join her in the fight against trafficking, it felt like a direct call from God specifically for me.
On the way home in the car, with tears streaming down my face, I looked up into the night sky, reached my hand out the window, and said to God, “I have no idea what I’m signing up for, but I’m in.”
I didn’t know what getting involved would mean, and to be honest, I was scared. How could I help this organization or these girls? What would it mean to be involved with something so horrific? I felt unsure, unqualified, and I was nervous about the unknown, but as a mom, I couldn’t bear the thought of kids—some as young as my own kids—being exploited and abused like that. Somehow, I knew I was supposed to do… something.
I sent Jenny an email and asked if we could meet for coffee.
The morning we met, I walked into the coffee shop more than a little nervous. There I was about to meet with the CEO and founder of this amazing organization that’s changing the world… and I was trying to plan what I was going to say.
It turns out, when you’re following that nudge that you can only explain as God’s lead, you don’t need to be nervous. Jenny welcomed me with a warm hug, we got our coffees, sat down, and started talking.
“I’m not sure if you need a writer or anything,” I offered after a few minutes, “but I’d love to help if I can…”
She slapped her hand down on the table and laughed. “You had me at hello,” she said. “I’ve been praying for a writer for three years. You’re the first one that’s ever approached me!”
And that was the beginning of my journey. I signed up as volunteer writer with C2BU, but God had so much more planned. Here I am, almost two years later–now as the Volunteer Director of Communications—and I’m amazed at all that’s happened.
That one yes I said after the concert led to another yes, and another, and another… and I’ve seen God move in ways I can hardly put into words. The joy and purpose I’ve found simply through using my gifts to serve others through C2BU, and even the healing I’ve found as part of this journey, has been life-changing.
And the most incredible part about the whole thing is how I’ve seen God bring all of the experiences in my life together to prepare me for this exact time…
As a kid, I used to love to write. But when I grew up, I lost sight of that. When I went off to college, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to focus on so I chose business as my major, got my MBA, and ended up working at Hewlett Packard as a manager for about five years.
After getting married and having my daughter, I quit my corporate job to be a stay-at-home mom—one of the best decisions of my life. Yet there were times I’d long to be doing more and I’d look back on my career and degree and wonder if it had all been a waste (I used to joke with my husband that it I got my MBA… to change diapers).
But it was at home with my kids where I not only learned the indescribable joy and privilege of being a mom, I also rediscovered my passion for writing and began to live my dream of becoming an author.
And, years later, it was writing that brought me to volunteer at Courage to Be You, where I’ve been able to use that skill and all of the corporate experience I had worried might’ve been a waste.
Everything has come full circle.
Just by saying yes—in spite of fear and uncertainty—I’ve seen how God has used all of my experiences—the good, the bad, and even the times I’ve taken detours in life—to prepare me for His purpose.
It all matters.
I’m in awe of how nothing was wasted—not one class I took in college, not one experience I had in the corporate world, not one day I spent writing, and especially not one moment of being a mom.
It’s been an amazing adventure to be able to use my experiences and gifts to help change the world, one life at a time.
And it all started just by saying yes.
-Genny Heikka, Volunteer Director of Communications