March 12, 2020 | By neighborhoodev

Jenny’s Story

My story started sitting in the dirt in Mozambique, Africa in 2014. At this point I was 22 years old, but it felt like my life began sitting in that dirt. I knew that from then on my life would be lived on mission, I just wasn’t sure exactly how.

Two years previous I met a crazy man who loved to serve the broken. He also knew he was broken, and this connected me to him because I knew I was too. We fully embraced this together and this is what made me fall in love with him. I began serving a long side of him, a group of people on the east side of Charlotte, which became The Abandon Project. Josh and I married in 2015 fully committing our lives to each other and also this ministry. We now have a beautiful son, Israel who has completely transformed our lives and hearts forever.

Through my own struggles of finding my worth as a woman and battling an unhealthy relationship with myself and food, Jesus taught me how to love and nourish my body both physically, emotionally and spiritually through the nourishment of food and taking care of my physical and mental health. I remember standing in the neighborhood on a specific day looking at all of the people I love with such a deep pain in my heart for them to know their worth. If I felt that way, I can’t even begin to imagine the pain Jesus feels for them to know who they are and how HE sees them. I have fallen so deeply in love with my communities heart and I know that they deserve so much more than this world has given them, and just as much, even more, than I have. When the conviction goes so deep sometimes it feels like, man, how am I ever going to be able to love them and provide for them the way they deserve. The answer is, I never will, but Jesus always can.

I stood there and I asked Jesus how I could go about such a task of attempting to show them their worth in Him. This is what He told me, “show them their worth the way I showed you yours,” and this is how the Health Initiative was birthed. Jesus took my deep pain through disordered eating habits and taught me my worth through the nourishment of my body, physically, emotionally and spiritually and so this is when I decided to take what I knew and give it away.

The first Health Initiative took place in my home in 2017 with 3 middle school girls, and the rest has been history. We have made many transitions throughout the years due to location and facility changes, but Jesus’ vision still remains, and thank goodness so does mine.

I am the director of the Health Initiative and run a Wednesday night program where we focus on mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. We teach nutrition lessons and also have so much fun cultivating our community garden!

I am committed to inviting my neighbors to the table and taking all that I know and giving it to them so that I can further the mission of the Health Initiative which is, “to usher in worth and belonging to our community through increasing health education and accessibility to health resources. ” I know that my neighbors will continue this work of taking what they know and giving it away to change so many others’ lives.