You know how superheroes have hidden identities? Sometimes, living in the Body of Christ can be a little bit like that. You have been hanging out with your honorable pal Clark Kent for years and then one day you say, “Hey wait a minute…this is Superman!”
Linda Parker probably doesn’t have x-ray vision eyes, but sometimes it can seem like she has an x-ray vision heart. She is a licensed therapist who has been helping marriages and families grow in their emotional health for 25 years.
In 1995, an opportunity came up to teach child development from a Christian perspective to public school teachers in Russia. Linda began to see how God could use the combination of her professional skills as a counselor, her experience as a teacher and her love for Christ in cultures where those things had not been valued or taught at all.
When Linda talks about how the Lord has merged her professional skills with her desire to honor Christ with the spread of the Gospel, there is an intensification of passion in her voice. She is feeding off the joy of the work of the Spirit in her, and it is beautiful.
Linda’s passion has driven her to do some pretty cool things. A few years ago, Dave Wilson started talking with her about developing a missionary care team for Trinity. She had long found the sacrifices made by missionaries compelling, but when she began to see the emotional toll of life overseas up close and personal through short-term mission trips, a new vision began to percolate. Linda began to pull together a dynamic team of truly gifted Trinity folks to make sure our missionaries get the best care possible. They are organizing resources from our church family like medical and dental skills, computer expertise and business sense to help our brothers and sisters on the field be as effective as possible. They provide ongoing counseling, watching over our missionaries as they go through culture shock, team struggles and the traumas that happen in countries that aren’t quite as stable as the U.S. And perhaps most importantly, the team is working to forge meaningful relationships between our missionaries and members of Trinity like you and me. One key way of doing this is having Koinonia groups adopt a missionary family as one of their own.
Linda has also been serving with the ministry team that runs International Friendship Connection. It is Trinity’s outreach to students from all corners of the globe who come to study at Cal State, U of R, and Loma Linda University. Linda tells the story of a student who put her faith in Jesus through the ministry of IFC. The student was expressing her gratefulness for the Trinity folks who invited her into their home as a friendship family. Their love was a powerful gift to her, and she understood that they were motivated by their devotion to Christ. “I began to see that my indifference to God was unreasonable in light of all He has done for me.” Wow!
These are the things that delight Linda’s heart. She will tell you that there is nothing more satisfying than realizing that despite your many failings, God is using you in ways that are unique to how he created you. When I asked this noble sage of ours what she would want each of us to know, her answer made me laugh. “You can make a difference in the world with how God made you. Find out what the heck it is and do it!”
~ Jennifer Jagerson