You may recall last month’s most popular post (“An 8 Year Old Missionary Who Throws Parties for Drug Dealers“), which described the sobering and wildly encouraging faith of an 8 year old girl who happens to love Jesus. If you haven’t read it, it’s a MUST read before diving into today’s post.
Why? Because the story doesn’t end with one BBQ hosted to love on local drug dealers – this story is much bigger. Today, you’ll hear more about the story from Taya’s mother, Shelly Palmer. We’ll talk about how God used this precious little girl to promote radical trust Jesus in a whole new way.
Shelly Palmer is the mother of four beautiful children – 2 boys and 2 girls. She’s just like most moms that I know – she encourages safety in practical things such as wearing seat belts, abiding by the speed limit, and making sure that her kids don’t eat foods that will make them choke. She’s the chairperson of the board at her children’s school and she supports her husband in every dream he pursues. Even though she can’t drink coffee because it makes her anxious, she’ll sip on sweet tea all day long like any true Southern belle.
Shelly’s also willing to do whatever it takes to spread the gospel – she has led a kids ministry in the infamous Compton neighborhood of Los Angeles, pursued victims of sex trafficking in Atlanta through Princess Nights, and served as a site leader for outreach to women in prostitution.
Like many of us, she longs to follow Jesus in her own walk of faith. As a stay-at-home Mom, she’s embracing the greatest mission field that she’ll ever experience, which actually exists between the four walls of her Atlanta-based home. Here’s what she shared:
As a Mom, what did you think when Taya told you that she wanted to throw a party for drug dealers?
At first, I thought, “No way, we’re not going to do that!” No way could we have them inside. Maybe we can have them outside and hang out together in the front yard.
Wow. That’s quite a testimony already. Is there is one specific lesson that you learned about your own walk of faith in Christ?
Yes – that I should not become desensitized to my environment. In my mind, I viewed these drug dealers only as criminals and didn’t want to associate with them. But God used Taya to break down those walls so that I could see others that need God’s love. Drug dealers need God’s love too, just like everyone else that we minister to: single Moms, any women we help on the streets, or homeless men on the street. They all need God’s love. I’m just thankful that He broke me down before I became too desensitized. No matter what you’re doing or where you are in life, God is still reaching out to you. No one has ever gone too far to feel the love of God.
God also reminded me that He is our Protector, and that I can protect our kids only so much. But, God is our main protector. Because He put this BBQ on a little child’s heart, it must be extremely important. Perhaps I had failed to listen earlier, and so He ended up using my daughter to accomplish what He wanted to do. He is pretty amazing.
Taya mentioned that you had a conversation with a specific woman during the BBQ, which sounded like God sent a person just for you to minister to. Can you share about that experience?
Yes, a woman came to the BBQ and she was intoxicated. She started opening up to me, and she shared that she doesn’t want to be out on the streets anymore. She had been using [drugs] again and prostituting. So, I began praying for her in my kitchen. She was crying and sharing that she wanted to start living a better life. Then she said that she wasn’t really ready yet, but that she would come back to my house and talk moving forward.
There are a lot of mothers who read HDD. If you could give one piece of advice to mothers (or even future mothers such as myself) who want to encourage their children to follow after Christ, what would you suggest?
Simply point them in the right direction, lead them towards where they need to go, and trust God to take over. I’ve always pointed Taya to ministry and outreach (since that’s my husband’s job). When she was a baby, I would take her to ‘Adopt-A-Block‘ with me every Saturday. Even after I became so busy being a Mom that I had to stop doing some of the ministries, Taya was still very familiar with them. I also encourage her to read her Bible and to pray.
I am also honest with her about what are people are going through. When we encounter them on the street, I will tell her that this person is a drug dealer; that man is homeless, he doesn’t have a home; and this person is on drugs, so they have sores on their body and no teeth. There are a lot of people that are suffering without Jesus. In my own life, it was hard when I didn’t have Jesus. I get to share how life is rough without Jesus from my own past experience, and then talk about how they see it from their perspective. Being honest with our kids has really paid off for me by allowing the Holy Spirit to work in their lives and helping to keep them involved in church.
One last question, I know that there are a lot of readers who are stay-at-home Moms (such as yourself). Can you talk to me about how transitioning from active ministry to being at home with your kids (while still having a husband who is in ministry) has impacted you?
I definitely have accepted that my children are my main ministry, my full-time ministry. Whatever I can pour into them, they will be able to pour out to others later. We are seeing this with Taya, who is eight now and wanting to pour out to drug dealers. I really believe that a lot is determined by how we raise our children – raising them in the Word and teaching them in the way they should go so that they can be witnesses to hundreds and maybe thousands of people. My way of ministering to others is through my kids; I know that if I raise them well, they will pour out to others.
My mother-in-law, who has 11 children, almost all of whom are in ministry, has always emphasized the idea of ministry through her kids. Seeing both her example and how my own children have developed have been great. Sometimes, being a stay-at-home Mom can be lonely and hard. At times, you can feel left out because the hubby seems more free to go out and do what he needs to do while you stay at home with the kids. However, thinking about what God is doing in their hearts is really rewarding and worth the sacrifice. Especially when you see them take a stand for what they believe in – I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
Although I can fail at times in my own parenting, seeing how Taya wanted to do the BBQ felt like a great accomplishment for me and a beautiful example of the fruit I can produce as a Mom. With God, I can now trust that I’m not the failure that the enemy tries make me out to be in his attacks (“You’re not good enough…you’re not doing a good enough of a job”). Now that I can see my kids bearing fruit, I can trust that I am doing a good job through Christ.
If you have questions or comments for Shelly (or even Taya), please click HERE.
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