If you aren’t familiar with Jenee Woodard and her website “The Text this Week,” then take a minute to read her inspiring story at Faith and Leadership. (I mean it. Really.) A graduate of Saint Paul School of Theology, Woodard was on the path to becoming an academic until her son was diagnosed with severe autism. When his needs changed her plans, she instead created and now runs one of the most visited Christian websites in America: Textweek.com. Though she aspired to a bookish and cloistered career as a scholar, God sent her instead to the mission field of the World Wide Web where she reaches hundreds of thousands of people.
“It is my ministry — or what I do with my life, as I explore what I think is my responsibility as a human being — to give more than I take, and to use my gifts for service to others, while giving myself a delightful new lens on texts and interpreters of texts.
“This is the heart of my own faith and of my task, as I see it, in the world.”
As I read the interview, I marveled that Woodard carried on this work for ten years before receiving any compensation That’s a very long time to keep saying “yes” to God’s call–especially if you consider what the internet looked like in August 1998 when she began the site.
The path of ministry can be wildly unpredictable. You can be on it and not know for sure you’ve been called. And if you are sure and you say, “Here am I. Send me!” you can’t count on being asked, “Where would you like to go?” In 1998, a site like TextWeek might have looked a bit like the ark in the back yard. To the world, Jennee Woodard might not have looked sufficiently credentialed or affiliated to do this work. It might have seemed like a crazy idea for a solitary layperson. And yet, she used her talents to minister to others, and God blessed her work.