Friends, I’d like to introduce you to someone special. Most of you won’t know her name or recognize her face. But she is one that has been changed by you, by this community we call Velvet Ashes.
I met Reny recently at a conference. As we stood in line for food together she recognized me as part of the Velvet Ashes team. A few moments later, she joined my table saying “Can I sit here? I have to tell you my story.”
Yes. A hundred times yes.
This is the story Reny shared with me:
“I moved overseas in my late forties only days after marrying a man who had served in Asia for decades. I was excited to join my husband in this new life and ministry. Although I received excellent cultural training, clearly understood my missional purpose, and found myself married to an amazing man, when I arrived I had an incredibly hard adjustment.
I soon encountered things even my experienced husband had not anticipated and over which we had no control … it all became too much. Isolation became my constant companion, and numbness settled in. I felt parts of myself shut down. I discovered my ability to organize and create was compromised. I stopped listening to music and no longer wanted to read because the mental energy required to do so was too much.
I discovered Velvet Ashes about a year after I arrived. I found myself looking forward to the emails that would slide into my inbox. More often than not I read them through tears, saying to myself, “These girls, they get me!”
Occasionally, I read the Velvet Ashes posts to my husband believing he would also appreciate them. Often, I couldn’t finish reading aloud; the tears were too many. The posts created an incredible feeling of connectedness as Velvet Ashes ministered to me – right where I was.
The Velvet Ashes book club inspired my attempt to read again with The Pastor’s Wife by Elizabeth Von Arnim. That same year, I also joined the Velvet Ashes Retreat, a life giving, virtual gathering of women around the world. It was truly a restorative oasis in my desert.
Yet after two years on the field, my struggle was painfully real. I still had no close friends in this new home and my heart longed for deep friendship. In 2016, I joined with three other women to do the Velvet Ashes Retreat together. Ironically, one was in her twenties, one in her thirties, one in her forties, and I had just turned fifty! Throughout the retreat experience, we were like sponges, soaking up the Lord and quickly bonding to each other in spite of our different life stages. The new friendships that bloomed that weekend have grown and deepened to this day!
Community. Friendships. Meaningful and impactful books and retreats. A place where we are understood. That’s what Velvet Ashes has offered to myself and thousands of women.
Velvet Ashes continues to provide support for my life and ministry in Hong Kong.
I believe I am better, the Velvet Ashes community is better, the world is better because we are together in this space.”
In five years, Velvet Ashes has grown into a community of 7,000 women spread across more than 120 countries. There are approximately 137,500 English-speaking women who are serving cross-culturally. That’s a lot of women who could use a virtual shoulder of understanding, a bright spot of camaraderie, and bucketful of resources. And a lot of women in need of the strength we find together.
For our fifth birthday, we’ve set an audacious goal to raise $25,000 to support the growth of serving 2,000 more women like Reny in 2019.
Would you consider giving generously to Velvet Ashes today, knowing that your gift will support our community in 2019?
We’ve been throwing a virtual birthday party over on our Instagram Stories. Ladies have been sharing their favorite thing about Velvet Ashes and their favorite memories. Here are some of the highlights.
What about you? What are your favorite things about Velvet Ashes? Or a favorite memory? We’d love to hear in the comments.