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.