By Meghan Hatcher
In April 2018, I concluded the pilot phase of my project — a storytelling ministry called the Clay Jar Project. This name derives affectionately from the biblical story of the prophet Elisha and the widow that's told in 2 Kings 4:1-7. In this story, a desperate widow is able to pay back the family's debts, thus saving her sons from slavery, through a miraculous multiplying of an undervalued, seemingly insignificant jar of oil.
Since the group ended, I have pored over pre and post-group assessments from the women who participated in the first small group experience from January to April of this year. Reading each woman’s reflections is a profound experience. It is amazing to see how a skeleton that began as simply a recognition of my passion and a flittering idea was given flesh and brought to life over the course of one year. It’s humbling to see how the experiences and doors that have opened for me in the last decade are translating into a ministry that is truly changing people’s lives. And it’s staggering to bear witness to the transformation in each woman’s life as she was invited to connect more deeply with herself, other women in the local community and with God through the exploration of biblical and personal life stories.
As I synthesize data from the assessments, I see areas that can be improved and I have new ideas for tweaks to the curriculum I’ve developed. It’s exciting to receive feedback, honest responses and suggestions from group participants that help me gauge where the ministry was most and least effective at reaching its goals. My next steps involve translating this feedback into an improved curriculum to be utilized with another semester-long small group in the future.
At the same time, I hope to continue making connections with others that will help me put more flesh onto this ministry so that it can continue into the future.
When I am at my most hopeful and imaginative, I have a vision for the Clay Jar Project that transcends where it is now. This vision involves diversifying the curriculum for other audiences: underserved youth, immigrant populations, individuals who are incarcerated, people experiencing homelessness. I see this curriculum being implemented by churches, non-profits, community centers, and led by people trained to facilitate this kind of unique ministry in their own contexts. If the pilot group experience taught me anything, it’s that there is tangible good here in the potentialities that flow from this idea. Like oil in the widow’s jar, I see great possibilities for hope to be unfettered within individuals and communities alike. All that's needed is faith.
By Meghan Hatcher
As I consider my “founding story,” the most salient question for me right now is who to bring with me on this journey. Since my idea is already underway and I’ve already been through the pilot phase of my project prior to joining Change Makers, I am in some ways backtracking. As I researched and voraciously read prior to and while launching my project in fall 2017, I’m realizing that the authors, sociologists, and practitioners are people I’ve already metaphorically “brought with me.” Their contributions to my idea development, strategies for implementation, and project assessment are invaluable. Now I need to navigate other areas of invisible capital around me that I can tap into for more specialized and personal interactions and contributions.
Doing this requires networking, which is not something I naturally gravitate towards as my idea of a good time. In my previous experience as a journalist, that was part of the job with which I was uncomfortable. Rarely does networking involve mutual listening as people cluster around high-top tables, awkwardly holding watery drinks atop cocktail napkins (see image — you know what I'm talking about). There’s a certain amount of networking, particularly in a room full of ravenous reporters, that feels like selling myself, propping myself up by slyly mentioning my accolades, accomplishments and experiences in order to impress the person I engage in conversation. This is uncomfortable and actually seems at odds with my Christian worldview as it too often leans toward the implicit belief that what I’ve done has all been up to me and not the result of enormous privilege and invisible capital.
And yet, I don’t have the same issues networking in my communications work for the various non-profits I’ve worked for in the past because I believe in the mission and the work we’ve set out to do in the world. I need to transpose this level of faith and confidence in my own project (and myself) as I become more comfortable telling the story of the unique good I’m trying to do and what makes me an appropriate and equipped person to do it. This takes practice and a bone-deep belief conviction what this project seeks to do actually can transform lives. If I believe that strongly enough (which I do!), and can communicate it thoroughly, other people will surely want to be drawn into the story, too.
*Image from palife.co.uk
By Isvera Zondo
The learning lab in London for me was beyond inspiring. From all wonderful the stories, learning about the community and the church and how God uses his people in different ways to serve others and create change were all inspiring and I’m thankful for the opportunity of being a part of learning lab. It was an honored being in the company of people from different background sharing their stories.
It was definitely a life changing trip for me.
To be honest, I had a lot of anxiety before and on the trip not knowing exactly what I was getting involved with. There were times when I thought about leaving the cohort and not going on the trip because of my anxiety. Especially with some of the challenges that I experienced prior to the trip, I thought “maybe this is the right time to drop out now.” However, I couldn’t because I remember what the Lord said about fear, anxiety, and worry, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made to God: and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guide your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Fear and anxiety can overwhelmed us controlling every moves and decision that we make in our lives. I couldn’t let that prevent me from experiencing a life changing opportunity. I now know that focusing on God’s voices as I continue through my journey will get me through any challenges that I may encounter. I’m willing to open my mind for God to use dramatic means to get my attention. I’m praying that God reveal to me my founding story and excited to see how the Lord is going to use me in the process.