When Susie Jennings’ husband of nearly a decade killed himself one April morning in 1993, she couldn’t see a way forward.
“An officer found David’s decomposing body in a ravine, 30 days after he’d disappeared,” Jennings told The Christian Post. “He’d shot himself in the head after years of suffering from a chemical imbalance that caused severe depression.”
“I was so angry at David for leaving me. He was supposed to sing in church that same week; he’d been saved as a little boy. But illness took him from me. We buried him three days before my birthday.”
Shortly after the loss of her husband, Jennings survived a devastating car accident, leaving her disabled for several months. During that time, her neighbor also died by suicide.
“At that point, my anger became directed at God,” she said. “But one night, He gave me a dream. In it, I saw myself knocking on my neighbor’s door, telling them about Jesus. That morning, I woke up and I decided to choose joy. I said, ‘God, what can I do for You?’”
While driving home from a worship service in Dallas in November of that same year, Jennings heard a voice clearly say, “look to your left side.” There, she saw over 100 men, women and children living in cardboard boxes.
“The voice said to me, ‘You’re going to go there in person and minister to these people,’” she recalled. “I said, ‘No, no. Not these people. I don’t like homeless people.’ And God said, ‘You were the one who asked Me. You need to bring these people blankets.’”
An immigrant from the Philippines, Jennings shared how growing up, she hated when her mother would serve the homeless in the local community.
“When I was a little girl, my mother would feed the homeless and poor in our kitchen, and I didn’t like it,” she admitted. “I didn’t like these dirty people occupying my space and eating my food and coming into my house.”
But after hearing God’s voice that day in 1993, Jennings said she was instantly convicted: “This is why I tell people, ‘Don’t ask God what you can do for Him unless you’re prepared because He’ll take you out of your comfort zone,” she said. “That’s what He did to me. The Lord led me to the very group of people I didn’t like and it all started in my mother’s kitchen.”
Then a nurse at a major hospital, Jennings began purchasing blankets and asking others to help her buy more. The blankets were distributed with the Gospel message, food and love. On more than one occasion, she stayed overnight with the homeless, immersing herself in their lives.
It wasn’t long before the homeless community gave Jennings a nickname: The Blanket Lady.
In 2001, Jennings’ willingness to step out in faith and serve God and her community prompted her to launch Operation Care International. Today, the faith-based nonprofit organization serves thousands of homeless, destitute, and low-income families in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and around the world.
OCI provides hot meals, an array of health and personal care services, plus clothing, sleeping bags, and blankets to those in need. It also provides free phone calls home, seeking to reunite families.
“We are an evangelistic street ministry,” she said. “We provide the physical and spiritual needs of the homeless and poor. While giving them gifts, we tell them about the greatest Gift of all, and that is Jesus.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett