In September, we celebrated 4word’s fifth birthday. Reflecting back on our journey over the past five years, I can say that I’ve seen God’s hand clearly providing in a way that I never would have predicted or thought possible. I was honored to share these 4word miracles with leaders from eight cities across the country who joined us in Dallas earlier this month at our 7th Annual Leadership Retreat. God does incredible things in and through us, and by sharing these miracles with others, we find ourselves not just able to encourage others, but be encouraged ourselves!
Here are nine miracles we’ve experienced as a 4word team over the past five years:
Miracle #1 – “Work, Love, Pray” published: When Bob Buford, founder of the Halftime Institute, told me I need to write a book as the foundation for 4word, I told him that me authoring a book would truly be a miracle. Then, in September 2011, a division of HarperCollins published “Work, Love, Pray.” This was the first miracle I witnessed as God began building the foundation for 4word that would reach thousands of women across the country and around the world.
Miracle #2 – M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust grant: As 4word launched in 2011 with “Work, Love, Pray,” our 4word: Digital Community came online with the 4wordwomen.org website, and our first 4word: Local Group started in Portland, OR, God started showing me how 4word was meeting an unmet need for so many women. After two years of growth, I knew I couldn’t lead this growing ministry part time with a part time team, so we applied for a grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. Everyone we knew kept telling us that Murdock never gives grants to an organization only two years old. Well, in August of 2013, we were awarded a six figure grant. That enabled me to bring on our first full time employee who grew our Local Groups from two to seventeen in the next two years.
Miracle #3 – Divine Connections: 4word has been a catalyst to connect with some amazing influential women and men, including:
- Charity Wallace, Senior Advisor to President and Mrs. George Bush, through The Salvation Army’s National Advisory Board and The Women’s Initiative at The Bush Center’s Mentor Program;
- Amy Grant, 4word’s presenter and performer at the 2nd Annual Gala, who I met through a close friend of my husband;
- Lopez Lomong, two-time Olympian and Lost Boy of Sudan, who I was able to help start Team World Vision for South Sudan, his foundation, and his book “Running for My Life;”
- Brittany Merril Underwood, founder of the Akola Project, and Liz Bohannon, founder of Sseko Designs, both amazing women involved in 4word who build social enterprise companies to help women in dire situations.
All of these people have become dear friends and part of the foundation of 4word over the years. God has used my gifts to help each of them pursue their God-given calling, and He in turn has blessed me with their gifts. There are so many other stories of divine connections through 4word!
Miracle #4 – God using 4word to impact women in the workplace: By 2013, we started hearing stories of women building a relationship with God for the first time, broken marriages healed, anger management issues resolved, physically abusive situations redeemed into healthy marriages, businesses turned around, and so much more. It is these real women in the workplace who are my heroes and the reason I founded 4word. This is what keeps me working tirelessly to support and equip as many women as we can.
Miracle #5 – New opportunities to advocate for women in the workplace: Really? 4word would start a new column for Christianity Today’s Today’s Christian Woman. Really? “Work, Love, Pray” would be on American Airlines inflight entertainment on international flights. Really? 4word would write for The Washington Times in a section with Tim Keller, Paul Ryan, and Elizabeth Dole to name a few. God has blown us away as He grows our platform to reach working women.
Miracle #6 – Local Groups across the country and the world: In 2016, it wasn’t in our business plan to have a 4word: Local Group in Guatemala City or New York City. We didn’t anticipate new partnerships with churches, even becoming a resource on church websites, but we are today. We’re excited to see where God will take 4word in the next year beyond our hopes and dreams!
Miracle #7 – 4word staff, volunteers, board members and Advisory Board members: If you would have told me we would have five full time and five part time staff members, would be working with seven different firms, and have 254 volunteers serving as Board Members, Advisory Board Members, Mentors, Local Group Leaders, and interns five years ago, I would not have believed you. These women together make 4word what it is today.
Miracle #8 – Not only has God blessed 4word and women in the workplace, but He has blessed my family: Over the past 25 months, my daughter, Annie, has dealt with nonstop, intense sciatic nerve pain. Our friends and family and the women of 4word have carried us through this journey. I believe that by the end of January Annie will be healed as she just underwent a twelve hour surgery that involves a three month recovery period, and God miraculously brought us to this doctor and through this journey. I am forever grateful.
Miracle #9 – Financial provision that allows 4word to grow: Our budget has grown from just $40,000 in 2011 to over $1 million in 2017. I am blown away by God’s provision for 4word financially that allows us to grow and reach even more working women. Thank you to our many generous donors who have given over the years, and to the donors who stepped up on Giving Day 2016, helping us have the most successful Giving Day yet! We anticipate even bigger and better things for 4word in 2017, and believe God will provide and direct us as we strive to help women use their God-given callings and faith to change the world one cubicle, boardroom, backyard, church, and community at a time.
This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful to God, the women in the workplace whose lives are being touched by 4word, and the 4word team of staff, volunteers and donors who have made these miracles possible. You are my heroes!