redeemer's friend: a story of resilience
A little over a year ago, my phone flashed with a new Facebook message. The pixels on my screen told me she needed prayer—she was ready to give up.
My beautiful friend Brittany had already fought what felt like a million rounds in the ring and now, a few feet from what she thought was the finish line, she faced another glaring roadblock.
God had put a vision in her heart to return to Madagascar and build a ministry to help meet the many needs she’d seen during her eleven month missionary assignment there a year prior—needs that had broken her heart and filled it with love and compassion for the people of a place she’d initially seen as a sort of gap year stop before starting grad school.
She’d dealt with the initial shock of adjusting to the culture and building connections in an unfamiliar community—all the while miles from anything she’d ever known—and it’d been overwhelming. She had wondered if she could keep going when it felt so hard. She’d then dealt with the reverse culture shock after coming home, and the openly-voiced concerns and criticism of others as she prayed over the opportunity to return. She had listened as people listed all the obstacles she would have to face in achieving her mission, and the reasons why it wasn’t a good idea. When she kept pressing forward, she’d dealt with feeling inadequate and overwhelmed as she dove into research and learned what it would be like to partner with an official non-profit. As she had learned about each new step she’d have to take, the more impossible it felt.
Despite the difficulty, Brittany watched God provide for her dream in miraculous ways and it began to embolden her, building in her an increasing certainty that the mission on her heart was not her own, but from God Himself.
A year of prayer, planning, and preparation were about to go into effect when all of a sudden, everything came to a screeching halt—Brittany found out that another ministry had begun to help a bulk of the children in the community she felt God had called her to.
God, I thought you called me to this? Was this all for nothing?
Brittany’s Facebook message that day spoke of discouragement, defeat, and doubt, and it spoke of the question waging war on her dream: if this is so hard, am I sure it’s what I’m supposed to do?
I’d never say with my words that I believe if something is right, it will be easy, but I think that many times, my actions have betrayed me.
When I hit a roadblock in something I’m pursuing—even something I believe God’s called me to pursue— suddenly, I’m wondering whether I’m even on the right road. When I’m in the thick of a hard or painful situation, I feel that there must be some mistake, that maybe God forgot something and owes me a change in circumstance to alleviate the discomfort.
In short, I don’t like enduring difficulty, and I’ve often let it serve as an indication to me that something is wrong—that something needs to change, so I can stop feeling it.
But Brittany’s journey, along with my own experience, have slowly shifted my assumptions. It’s posed a new question:
What if a difficult road isn’t an indication that we’re headed for the wrong destination—what if a difficult road is what’s necessary to prepare us for what is required of us at our destination?
Right as she was on the brink of giving up, God gave Brittany what she needed to keep going. She was made aware of twenty remaining Malagasy children in the community who were without help, some who had only one parent and others, orphans. In the months that followed, her ministry, Redeemer’s Friend, was born.
Today, Redeemer’s Friend exists as ministry run on the following mission: “We seek to alleviate the burdens of poverty by providing education, job opportunities, food, and other resources for families and children in Madagascar, through the grace of God.” They are educating and feeding hungry children, equipping parents with resources and jobs to provide for themselves, and keeping families warm through the provision of charcoal. Quite literally, they are living out God’s call in Psalm 82:3,
At the helm of this mission is my friend Brittany. Having journeyed alongside her through all the bumps and bruises, I can see now with confidence that what this ministry needed wasn’t a smooth sail in coming to be, but rather, a skillful sailor to carry it on.
You see, through all the seeming setbacks, God was shaping Brittany. In the moments she felt alone, she was learning intimacy with Jesus on a deeper level. In the moments when voices of criticism surrounded her, she was learning to discern the voice of God and follow boldly after it, allowing all others to fall away. In the moments she felt inadequate and overwhelmed, she was learning that it wasn’t about her anyways, but about God in her, showing her what He can do despite her inabilities and impossibilities.
With each little piece of her old self God shaved away, He was bringing her further and further into a new creation—into the Brittany He’d always intended her to be, and the Brittany that was required of her to run this organization.
The Redeemer’s Friend story to me, is one of resilience. It’s a reminder that when things get difficult, rather than run, to press in, because that’s when the true transformation happens. It’s a reminder to me that the more radically we’re willing to step out in faith, the more radically we’re going to see Him move. It’s a reminder to me that the right things aren’t always easy, but maybe easy isn’t the point.
I think of the twenty children who were sponsored at the Redeemer’s Friend fundraiser last weekend—twenty precious souls whose lives have been forever altered because Brittany’s resilience refused to let “easy” be the point. It makes me wonder what souls would remain untouched if you or I allowed discouragement, defeat, and doubt to keep us from pressing forward to reach them.
So to anyone dreaming a big dream or stuck in what feels like a dead-end, I hope Brittany’s story is an encouragement to you to keep pressing forward. Don’t give up. God has a purpose for you, and it’s just so possible that the impossible situation you’re facing today is actively shaping you into the person who can fulfill it.
Below are some photos from the Redeemer’s Friend Christmas Fundraiser. Have a look and if your heart is stirred, I encourage you to check out their website and see how you might be able to partner in their cause.
To Brittany, thanks for letting me share some of your story, and thanks for inspiring those around you in living boldly, bravely, and beautifully abandoned to the cause of Christ.
Some friends praying over Redeemer's Friend founder Brittany Farmer before the fundraiser.
Five of the eight girls who shared a house together my senior year at Biola—so fun catching up!