Hello. My name is Cindy Farrington. I am a founder and the Executive Director of New Hope Ministry/New Hope Counseling Center in Centerville, Iowa. I believe God wants us to first share with you how He called us into this ministry, and how we know that He set this whole thing up, and that God is at work doing something big here.
Henry Blackaby, in his book Experiencing God, said that if you really want to do something for God, don’t just look for something that you can do for Him and then work, work, work for the Lord. He said what you need to do is take a step back, and watch. Watch for where God is already at work, and then join Him there. Our desire is to let you know that God is at work here.
So here’s my story:
All my life I struggled with low self-confidence, low self-esteem, and feelings of inadequacy. Clearly, satan knows where our weaknesses are. So I had spent most of my life trying to make up for that by trying to do everything and making sure I did everything perfect.
My husband Scott and I had both grown up near Albia, Iowa. We both graduated from Albia High School. Scott became a teacher and coach, and he even did his student teaching at Albia under Mrs. Hoskins who was a Social Studies teacher there. He received his first teaching job in Illinois though, so we moved there. He taught at the same school and we lived in the same little community for 15 years. All of my education and training had been in office and employee management and after about 12 years in Illinois, I kind of felt like I finally had my life all under control. Even though God had worked in my life over the years, I still struggled with some things– but don’t we all. I had a good job and I was busy doing work, work, work at our church. Scott and I were both saved at a young age and grew up in Christian homes. So there was really no dramatic change in my life. You see, I knew who God was— but I had never really “gotten to know Him” for myself. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-thirties that I really started sensing this and wanting more. And in His most gracious, merciful, goodness, He began impressing upon my heart, “Cindy, I want you to stop trying to do everything and just get to know Me. Let Me show you Who I am.” It was almost immediately after that, when God literally took me out of the chiropractor’s office where I was working as the office manager/clinical assistant and placed me in a main staff position at an organization that our church supported as one of its missions. I was now helping to manage a ministry. And I thought, Wow! This is great! I’ve finally found my calling in life. Now I can really serve the Lord.
Now I really had my life all under control; doing work, work, work at our wonderful church and I now had the perfect job. My husband had a perfect job that he loved, we had a beautiful home, and two beautiful children who loved our life there. Little did I know that God had a bigger plan already set in motion. God put me in an intense training ground at Tri-State Family Services. They started as a crisis-pregnancy center, but had really expanded to all types of counseling. As well as helping to manage the ministry, I was trained in crisis counseling. I also went through training in a program for a residential home for troubled young women we were going to be expanding to include into our ministry. And all through it I had this deep sense of urgency to learn everything I could, as fast as I could.
Then through my family that was here in Centerville, Iowa, their pastor and some people in their church became interested in this ministry I was working with. We started getting some donations from here. I was pretty excited about that. We were operating a budget on faith and God was teaching me a lot of lessons on trust and faith in Him to provide. Then one day (in July of 2001) we received a pretty good-sized donation from a group at my parent’s church. I happened to be alone at the center that day, which was very unusual. Even more unusual was the fact that there weren’t any clients that day. I was totally alone, working on the deposit. I got to that check and I thought, “You know, these people really ought to have something like this to support for themselves, there in Centerville.”
The moment that thought formed in my mind, God said to me, “There is going to be something like this in Centerville.”
If you have ever heard God speaking to you about something before, whether it’s actually an audible voice or something in your spirit— it doesn’t really matter. You know. You could tell me His exact words to you. And you know what it’s like when you hear Him. I was covered with goose bumps, my heart was pounding, and my hands were shaking. Finally I said, “So…why are You telling this to me, Lord?” But somehow, deep down, I knew why He was telling me. And I said, “So what do You mean, Lord? Are You going to start something up and then I’m suppose to go work there, or what?” But somehow, I knew what He meant. And then you know what follows— “I’m supposed to start it? What?! You can’t be serious! There’s no way I could do something like that! That would take someone who knew a lot of people, someone with a lot of influence, and who really knew what they’re doing. I don’t really know anyone there. It would be impossible! And think about what it would take to even get me there. My husband is never going to want to quit his job and move back to Iowa and start all over! There is no way he would be able to get a new teaching job with 15 years experience. No school board would hire him that far up on the pay scale! And we would have to sell our house, and at just the right time for us to be able to move, and then be able to get something there. And… And… Why am I telling all of this to You, Lord? You already know what it would take.”
I don’t know how long I sat there, knowing that He was waiting for an answer and that a lot was riding on it. Finally I said, “OK. If You went to that much trouble to arrange that many things… I’d do it.”
I just sat there a little longer and my mind went to what our director was doing that morning. Sherry, who had become one of my dearest friends, gave educational presentations in the schools. She was at a school that morning giving a presentation on STD’s (which was extremely graphic). And I said, “Oh Father, I wouldn’t have to do that, would I? I really don’t think I could ever do that. I wouldn’t even know the order of what she does, or even what to take.” But I had started to calm down and I didn’t think He’d ever go through with it. He must be just testing me, I thought, to see if I would surrender it all to Him.
The very next morning Sherry came out of her office and handed me two lists to type up for her. One was the “Order of Presentation on STD’s” and the other was “What to Bring.” I was so thankful that she turned right around and went back into her office, because if she would have seen the look on my face… I didn’t hear a voice this time, but I can tell you exactly what God was saying. He was saying, I can show you how to do anything I ask you to do. I slumped back in my chair and it was at that moment I knew— He was serious. And it was that moment that I totally surrendered it all to Him and said, “Oh, God, I’ll do what ever You want me to do.”
That was it for awhile. I guess I kind of put it in the back of my mind as things just went on as usual. Three months later my sister, Vicki, called me at work and started telling me about this Christian woman in Centerville who was a counselor where she was working at a secular counseling center. She explained how this woman was getting very frustrated there and really feeling like the Lord was leading her to start something where Christian Counseling could be done. Vicki said she started telling her about the place where I was working and how it was set up. When she was done, the woman just looked at her and said, “So, what would it take to get your sister here to help me do this?” My heart started pounding again, and my hands began shaking and I thought, “Oh no, He’s started.” At this point I hadn’t even said anything to my husband. What was I suppose to do, go home that day three months earlier and say, “Guess what honey? I think God wants you to quit your job and us move back to Iowa!”
So God started teaching me some lessons on patience, about waiting on the Lord, and letting Him lead. After God did open the door for me to say something to Scott, it didn’t take long for him to see that something really was going on. And I realized God had literally placed me in a management position at that center for me to use it as a pattern to copy; the way it was set up, the way it was run. I was able to get a pattern of everything and adapt it over into a counseling center ministry. Over the next year God put on a display of just Who He is. I was somewhat of a control freak, and God totally took everything in my life out of my control. One thing after another, after another began happening that just sent chills up the spine. By May we were preparing our house to sell, without even knowing if there were any job openings available in the Centerville area. By the end of May there were several job openings available in the area, but Scott decided that he was only going to apply for one— at Albia— and that was it. Scott is a man of great faith and he said if it was God’s will for us to be there right then, he would get the job, and if not, he wouldn’t. So he checked into it and what did he find but that Mrs. Hoskins (who he had done his student teaching under) was now the High School Principal, and she would even be the one doing the interviewing. One week after he sent his resume he was called for an interview. And one week after that he was given the job. We found out later that 80 people had applied for that job.
That’s just one example in a list of more things than I could possibly tell you. Things that only God could have done; only God could have arranged. And it has been the same way with this whole counseling center ministry. Yes, I made myself available to Him to use, but so much of the time I have had to just stand back in awe and watch Him work. He is so good. And I don’t just mean “God is good.” I mean He is good— in the way He does things!
One of the most important things to me in all of this was that God actually called my husband to be the key person in all of it. It was actually my husband who commissioned me to do this. I am actually doing this in submission to my husband’s desires for me. He was the sole support for this ministry for a long time, and He is still my biggest supporter and adviser. Scott also serves on New Hope’s Advisory Board.
I love this quote from The Prayer of Jabez: “As God’s chosen, blessed sons and daughters, we are expected to attempt something large enough that failure is guaranteed… unless God steps in.”
I tried to tell God that I was not qualified enough or influential enough to do this, but I have come to find out that He often looks for someone like that and He showed me in His Word why that is. Here’s kind of a paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 1:26-29, “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God deliberately chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the insignificant— and the things that are not— to nullify the things that are.” And why does He do that? So that no one may boast before Him. (See? That is so often the exact kind of person God calls and He does it because that way He receives all the glory!)
And I wholeheartedly agree— to Him be all the glory.