“You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting
But I say, wake up and look around.
The fields are already ripefor harvest.”
John 4:35 (NLT)
I had been married twenty years before my husband came to the Lord.
He’d grown up in the church, his mother was a pastor, but I didn’t even know all that before I married the man. “You need to know people before you marry them,” I tell the girls I counsel. I found that out firsthand!
When Jimmy accepted Christ as LORD of his life, he naturally wanted for our family to attend his mother’s church in Immokalee. When we did, our kids looked around and then said, “Where are the young people?” When we were invited to visit other churches, they asked the same thing. My goodness, where were the young people? They weren’t in the churches.
That got us to thinking. Kids needed the opportunity to get to know Jesus. Easter was coming up, so we decided we were going to put on an Easter production. We put flyers out everywhere. Almost half the projects in Immokalee were there for the first practice, tons of foster kids and kids living in all kinds of makeshift situations.
That was when God began to develop Washington Family Ministries.
In the beginning, the kids had no filter. They cussed the church. If I told them to do something, they’d get mad and cuss me out. If my husband said something, they bulked up like they wanted to fight. I told God, “Oh, nah, I’m not doing this. What do I have to offer these kids?”
All the feelings from my childhood welled up. About my mom being on cocaine, her being locked up, my grandmother having to raise me, my never going to the mall until I was in high school and me just living off Goodlette in River Park. I didn’t know what Burger King was or McDonald’s was, much less Pizza Hut. We lived on beans and greens. My mouth fell open first time I saw the mall.
God answered my question by helping me remember all the people who took me places, showed me things and taught me how to get along in a world I’d lived on the thin edges of my whole life, but never entered into.
“You can do for them what others have done for you. That’s what you have to offer them,” He told me. But I had a whole lot more: I had Him.
Nothing is an accident where God is concerned, and His timing is impeccable. My business, my faith and my family grew to the point that we were ready to take on ministry. God saved my husband and that sent us to Immokalee. We left the storehouse and went into the fields, and boy were they ripe! It’s all God, and it’s all good. (That don’t mean easy.) Shalonda Washington