I’m proud of my friend, Mandy.

This week I want to tell my friend Mandy how proud I am of you!

Mandy and I became friends at Indiana Wesleyan University.  After I graduated from IWU, I worked for the Admissions Office.  Mandy and I were hired together, along with another life-long friend of ours, but Mandy had yet to graduate.  She had another class or two before she finished but was able to both work a full-time job and finish her degree simultaneously.  Mandy is a very talented person. 

Mandy was an integral part of our college’s Friday Night Live (FNL) program that mimicked, for lack of a better word, Saturday Night Live.  They had skits, songs, parodies, IWU news, etc.  It was a very impressive sold-out campus event every semester.  Mandy even got to “host” FNL after having spent years as a writer.  Mandy is a very talented person.

Mandy has since gone on to work for a business consulting firm and has been wildly successful at that as well.  Have I mentioned how talented my friend Mandy is?

But here is what is so strange about Mandy: as talented as she is, Mandy is an incredibly and genuinely humble person.  She has a HUGE heart for people.  She could do anything she would want in this world and make huge sums of money, but she doesn’t care about that.  Yes, she wants to excel at her work and, yes, she is successful, but that’s not what drives her.

A few years ago, Mandy had some career and life decisions to make, ones that could take her away from her Indianapolis home.  After much deliberation and prayer, Mandy elected to stay in the area.  Why?  Well, I suppose the answer to that question goes to why my friend Mandy moved to downtown Indianapolis in the first place.  She wanted to make a difference and invest in the lives of others.

While the suburbs expand and Indianapolis news stations report shootings on a near nightly basis, Mandy goes to serve at Kids’ Church – an outreach ministry that befriends young people on downtown Indy’s East Side.  She has a group of girls whom she mentors that come over to her house regularly to play, eat, and talk about what’s happening in their lives.  This is nothing new for Mandy, as she still returns to Marion to take her neighbor’s grandchildren (whom the grandmother is the guardian of) out to ice cream.

And I think that’s what makes me so impressed and proud of my friend Mandy: she has all the talent in the world and she’s using every ounce of it to make this world a better place. 

She is always there for her friends, asks the difficult questions of her Christian faith, puts what she discovers about Christ into practice, and is driven not by conventional markers of success, but rather by the love of God for God’s children.

There’s one more thing I’m proud of and thankful for about Mandy.  She and a friend are using their talents to write grants for a local non-profit food ministry, Shalom, pro bono.   Shalom began at the church I am now pastoring, Otterbein UMC, that feeds tens of thousands of meals every year to the residents of Boone County.  Shalom relies heavily on grants to keep this increasingly expensive ministry going and the work Mandy is doing will indeed make this world a better place.

I am so proud of you, Mandy!  Keep up the GREAT work!

In Christ,

– Jared

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