A couple of weeks ago I shared how blessed we are at TWR Canada to have staff who have worked here for many years and, in some cases, decades.
This week I want you to get to know Colleen Shoemaker. Colleen began working in the office of TWR Canada in 2004 in an administrative role. In 2005, she moved into the role of overseeing the women’s ministry for TWR Canada, TWR Women of Hope (formerly called Project Hannah). In addition to this, in the past couple years, she’s taken on a role in writing and editing with our communications team. We are thankful for Colleen’s 15 years at TWR Canada. We trust her words below will help you get to know her better too!
In Ephesians 2:10 we read, “We are [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (ESV) This verse is foundational to how I view my life. It lends a sense of purpose and security and reminds me that God has created me for a purpose and indeed has a plan for my life. I can trust him.
My parents raised me in a conservative Christian home and provided excellent role models of what it looks like to love the Lord. As a young child, I asked Jesus into my heart; however, not having a solid understanding and deep roots of faith, I succumbed to the attractions of the world as a teenager. Thankfully, the Lord pursues his own, and at 19 years old I recognized my need for a Saviour and experienced true forgiveness. I became a new creation and began my faith journey.
In my early 20’s, I married an incredible man and a new adventure began. After several years of marriage and of Kevin going to university, we had our first daughter. She brought a great deal of joy and fun into our lives with her adventurous and outgoing personality. We loved being parents. Kevin continued in school, and we eventually moved to Hershey, PA, where we lived for three years as he completed a post-doctoral position. This was a pivotal point in our lives. God took me out of my comfort zone, the world I’d grown up in, and moved me away from all that was familiar. Thankfully, he sent us to a similar culture, but the transition provided many opportunities to learn and grow … and we did. I continue to be grateful for that time, as I learned a deeper love for and trust in God; I learned to see the world from a different perspective, and a sense of evangelistic interest was awakened. We also welcomed another daughter into our family, a gentle, sweet-spirited girl with a quick wit.
We moved to London, Ontario. It was a new city, but we were thankful to be closer to our families. Kevin began his career at Western University, and we settled into life. We began attending West London Alliance Church, and it was here that we first learned about TWR Canada through the then President Gerald Hayes and his wife Gloria. We met at a newcomer’s lunch and became friends; eventually I started working for TWR Canada. It started with Gerald asking me if I could use a Dictaphone! I hesitantly responded that I’d at least learned it in school. That conversation resulted in me working for TWR Canada part-time at home transcribing sermons (this was prior to joining the office in 2004). It was a great fit, as I could stay home with my girls, and I learned so much from those messages.
I eventually joined the team in the office, working first in an administrative role. After a year, the Project Hannah Coordinator retired, and Gerald suggested I fill the vacancy. I did and I continue in a similar role, although today the title is Women’s Ministry Coordinator and the job description has evolved. However, the primary focus continues to be on the work of TWR Women of Hope: bringing the hope and healing of Jesus to women around the world and across generations.
I find it exciting to hear people’s stories of how the Lord worked in their lives and brought them to where they are. And it’s no different for me. When I look back, I can see how God began to prepare me for this role. My first “real” job was working for a managerial consulting company. Here I learned many skills that help me to do what I do today: bookkeeping, office management, designing and writing training manuals. God was at work for his purpose.
Over the years, I continue to see him at work in me and around me. He provides the way for me to walk, equipping me and strengthening me to do what he has prepared for me. It’s a process. Growing up in a small town, I had no aspirations to “see the world,” yet the Lord has put me in a worldwide ministry where daily I do just that, whether through communications with people around the globe, hearing what the Lord is doing in many countries, or actually travelling to meet the women we serve with TWR Women of Hope.
During a particularly busy season of life, I remember telling a friend that I was finding life hectic and at times a bit too busy! She calmly replied that Jesus came so we could have a full life (John 10:10). Together we decided that life was indeed very “full!” Thinking back to when I first became a believer to today, I see how the Lord has indeed given me a full life … in a good way. And there is no better place to be than being his workmanship, doing the good works he has prepared for us. May you find great joy in walking in all he has prepared for you.