When our Proverbs 31 Ministries Executive Team shared the idea of a Legacy Campaign. I was thrilled! What a beautiful gift to honor women in our lives who have impacted our faith. It led me to think about my legacy of faith. God reminded me of the many women who prayed for me, encouraged me, and challenged me in my walk with Jesus. It began with my Grandma Wally, who prayed for me to know and love the Lord from the time I was a small child. And throughout the years, God strategically placed women in my path who shaped not only the faith I live but also the faith I will leave as a wife, mother, friend, and Bible teacher. Names flooded my mind.
But there is one woman who has influenced my walk with Jesus more than any other. Her name is Jan Harrison. This is Jan..
Isn’t she beautiful!
She came into my life at a time when I felt so very far from the Lord. You see, just days after my college graduation from Baylor University, I was raped by an armed, masked man hiding in my apartment. The days and years following my attack were some of the most traumatic and difficult times of my life. I lived those years locked in a prison of fear.
Then in 1998, my husband’s job brought us to Charlotte, North Carolina. We arrived with a 4 year-old, an 8 month old, and a yellow lab named CJ. Oh, how I hoped this would be a place of new beginnings, a fresh start. But it was not. In fact, being away from all that was familiar and comfortable, took me to a darker place…one filled with more fear, more despair, more self-pity.
But God! He opened the door for me to attend a Bible study. A real Bible study. Not a book club, not a discussion group. But a place where our only tools were a Bible and a notebook. The first day, I witnessed something I had never seen before. A woman standing before me who LOVED, absolutely LOVED the Word of God. She possessed incredible Bible knowledge. I had never met anyone who loved and believed in the power of God’s Word as much as she did. Her passion was infectious. I found myself writing fast and furiously to record every word she spoke.
Her love for God’s Word increased my desire to be in the Word. Many days I would go beyond my homework and dig deeper to learn more. I wanted what she had. I saw a confidence I longed for; a peace I needed; joy that I had never experienced, and sweet relationship with the Lord that I never knew could be had.
We prayed together. We met together outside Bible study. She gave me tools to help me go deeper in prayer and the Word.
What made her different from other women in my life?
Jan INVESTED her heart in mine.
She helped me to see God’s Word is living and active meant to speak to us today. Jan taught me to pray God’s Word. And when I began to put into action all that she had taught me, it transformed my life. As I began to immerse myself in prayer and the Word, the Lord freed me from my prison of fear! He healed me from all that held me captive! Through Jan, God transformed my heart and mind in a way that opened my eyes to see the giftedness He had given me. The giftedness to teach His Word.
Jan has left a legacy of faith. But her legacy doesn’t end with me. It goes on and on and on as she invests year after year in so many women.
And then a few years ago, this woman who began as my Bible teacher and has since become one of my dearest friends, suffered a heartbreaking loss, one no mother should have to bear. On October 5, 2010, their family changed forever when she and Frank lost their only son, James Harrison Franklin IV. Once again, Jan lived her faith out loud for all to see. Through her example, I learned the meaning of of what it means to grieve with hope. Although the loss of James rocked their family to its core, Jan found hope in knowing that this separation was only temporary. She reminded me in our first conversation, “take heart, Wendy, James is absent from the body but present with the Lord!” (2 Corinthians 5:8) We shared several conversations during that time, and I stood amazed at the strength of her faith…how she continually found HOPE in the midst of her grief. How she found ways to honor God in and through her indescribable suffering. She found hope in Philippians 1:6,
Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you, will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Her son, James, died while in Africa, ministering to the least and lost. He laid the foundation for a ministry,With Open Eyes, a global missions organization dedicated to serving those in need and equipping pastors to reach the “unreachable” with the message of the gospel.
James had a fearless determination to spread the message of Jesus. Where did James get that passion to share the hope of Jesus with the least and the lost? He watched his mom live it out before his eyes every day. Jan left James a legacy. And now James has left a legacy in With Open Eyes. If you would like to learn more about With Open Eyes, click here.
Is there someone who has left a legacy in your life? Someone who has lived out the Bible and strengthened your walk with Christ. Honor her this month with a donation to Proverbs 31 Ministries. We will send a card to her letting her know you are honoring her faith and through your donation, you will be helping us reach millions of women a day with the truth of God’s love. Click here to find out more.
If you have a special woman who has impacted her faith, I would love to hear about her. Will you honor her by leaving a comment below?
I will choose one name from the comments left to win a copy of Jill Beran’s book, Letters from Leanne – The Beauty of a Spiritual Mother-Daughter Relationship. Jill and Leanne’s story shows how lives are impacted and faith grows when generations connect. As you read about their friendship you will be encouraged to find a mentor, or be one! If you want to know more about Jill, please visit her blog by clicking here. Also, you can purchase her book on Amazon. I will announce the winner on May 1st.
*** WINNER OF HIDDEN JOY GIVEAWAY IS…***
Shawna who posted on April 12th at 2:34 pm
Congratulations Shawna! Please e-mail me at email@example.com with your home address.