July 29, 2013

Instead of Many, One

A few weeks ago, I got a letter in the mail. It was handwritten on a notecard, full of Scripture and encouragement for a pastor’s wife. “May He alone be ENOUGH for you in the ups and downs of life,” I read.

The letter was written by Amy Chaney. I haven't met her—may never meet her on this side of eternity—but she is a friend-of-a-facebook-friend, and I first heard about her on my friend’s blog.

In May, Amy launched a unique writing project. Every day for an entire year, she intends to write a handwritten letter of encouragement to a different person. 365 envelopes entrusted to the mailbox at the end of her driveway. 365 people tearing these letters open at their destinations, reading a verse of Scripture and a reminder to seek the Lord. 365 people. One. At. A. Time.

I need to learn from Amy.

Amy is calling her project “Heart to Hearten” and her goal is to “awaken a sense of courage and good cheer” with every letter. (You can read more about it on her Heart to Hearten blog.) Inside the note in my mailbox was a first-class stamp, a small step toward my own letter of encouragement for someone else. Amy’s card directed me: “Write a handwritten note. Include a Scripture if possible. Pray for the person as you mail it.”

Thinking about Amy's project, my calculating pragmatism overwhelms me. Why write a letter to one reader when I could write an article for thousands? And why have a single person over for coffee when I could just as easily have Sunday lunch for twelve? Why make a visit to one woman when, in the same amount of time, I could teach a Bible study for twenty? 

Amy’s humility, one letter at a time, rebukes me.

Christ is not a pragmatist. So often in His earthly life, instead of the many, Christ ministered to one. He preached often to the multitudes. But when the crowds were pressing in, when He had places to go and things to do, He also healed one woman, bleeding for last twelve years. (Luke 8:43-48)

When the disciples argued that it would be impossible to find a single woman in all that mob, He found her. He called her “daughter.” He commended her faith. He sent her away better than when she had come.

In ministry life, I need to take a lesson from Amy Chaney and her daily letters. In the crowd, I need eyes for the one.

My husband.

My child.

The widow.

The younger woman.

It may be time-consuming and unglamorous. It’s also the way of my Savior.


  1. Beautiful. I'll have to check out her blog and her project! Thank you for sharing this.

  2. I think the Titus 2 directive for older women to teach the younger women sets the precedent for this "one at a time" ministry mindset. When Brent preached through Titus 2 recently, he pointed out that this older woman to younger woman teaching is something that the pastor can't do. There is a unique place that women have in ministering to each other at a micro-level. It is one thing for a pastor to preach, "Respect your husband." It is another for an older woman to come alongside the younger woman who tells mocking jokes about her husband during Bible study and rebuke, exhort, and encourage her in the way that a husband should be spoken of. To show the younger woman, "this is how it's done."
    Thanks for this post!

    1. Lydia, that is a great connection to Titus 2. There are, indeed, some things that can only be accomplished one-on-one. (Related: Last night, I was reading an article in The New Yorker about teaching better midwifery practices in India. The researchers discovered that the only way to get the midwives to accept a practice as their new normal was to give them a one-on-one mentor to help them implement it in their real life situations. It was the relationship with the mentor that motivated/enabled the women to make lifesaving changes.)

  3. Megan, Thanks for sharing Amy's project! I love your thoughts here. May we each embrace the humility of Christ.

  4. I did try one variation on this idea. After I prayed for a church officer in my personal devotions, I sent him a note telling him that I prayed for him. I mentioned one or two of his characteristics/gifts that I especially appreciated.

    Knowing that I would be sending this letter later made my prayer for him more thoughtful and thankful.


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