Jenn Gibbons - An Amazing Story

Jenn Gibbons - An Amazing Story

An email request a week ago, from someone I had never met, asking if the church would open its doors for a cause.   Often these requests have a lot of strings to them, other times, it just seems too much.

This email was different, and so then was the person on the other end of the phone when I called.   Lissa was looking for a place where her friend (Jenn Gibbons)  could meet family and friends to share her story.   The young woman she was speaking about was rowing around Lake Michigan raising awareness and funds for suviors of breast cancer.   She had started a program in Chicago, where these women came together to exercise and to row.   Originally from Battle Creek, Jenn was nearing the end of her journey back to Chicago.   She had gained significant media attention because while in the UP she was attacked on boat.    Where others may have given up the journey, Jenn continued - with great support from family, team members, the Michigan State Police and local officials.

Her visit to South Haven garnered much attention.   A large crowd greeter her at First Congregational Church this afternoon.   Media attention was also strong as reporters for the local paper, Herald Palladium, Battle Creek Examiner and others wrere in attendance.    A film crew from FOX news in Grand Rapids and a National Writer/Video Journalist from the AP were also in attendance.    There were a few others, like the man recording her speech on his laptop and taking notes as well.    

Besides all the media attention, and the South Haven Mayor, Bob Burr reading a proclamation, I was most impress with Jenn herself.   This could be the girl next door (actually a young woman).  There is no pretense, instead there is humility, generosity and gratitude that just show in her voice and presentation.   Dr. Jason Beckrow of Lighthouse Oncology was here to introduce her and called her a hero.    Jenn, didn't see herself in that role (although most in attendance would disagree). She Spoke of herself as ordinary, as a volunteer, as someone so proud to be a part of a team.   In the audience were a number of cancer survivors that she has worked with - they are the real stars in Jenn's mind.  

Jenn also spoke of all the wonderful people that she has met, of their great support and encouragement.  She is amazed that people recognize her on the streets and is deeply touched by it all.

She also spoke of how the trip has changed her.  One way is understanding what is important to her and to her life.  How she has gone these 6 weeks wit hso little, and doesn't miss the stuff she has accumulated.   She can see herself living more simply after this adventure.  What she has missed is family time, coffee, and most of all, her dog.

As I listened to Jenn, I kept thinking of the sermon I gave this morning.  Speaking about being united - based on Paul's letter to the Ephesians (4:1-16).   Paul writes about being of ONE Spirit, ONE faith, ONE God and so on.  He ends that passage speaking about being knit together that we may grow and build into a body of love.    The power and the strength that comes from being a part of a team, of being united together.   Jenn has experienced that with her journey as well as the support groups she has brought together.

A good story.  A strong truth.  May we all find that support and love.

What a great afternoon.