Shortly after Tim and I met Joy and Daniel, we met Dave and Maggie Ainsworth. In fact, if my memory serves me correctly, Dave and Maggie were at the first dinner we were invited to at Daniel and Joy’s apartment. My first impression of Maggie was that she was way too serious to be my friend. And boy, am I glad that my first impression was terribly wrong! Dave and Maggie were our first community group leaders, and they taught us faithfully how to live as a family, modeling and instructing on how to care for one another and bear one another’s burdens. When our community group multiplied, we didn’t see them as much, and yet I was so thankful for any time we had together, as it was always fun and refreshing. Our last year in Louisville, Dave got a job at the same place where Tim was working, which meant they both worked second shift on Sundays, and Maggie and I began to meet most Sunday afternoons at a coffee shop to share our hearts and pray. This began a long-standing tradition of life-giving encouragement from Maggie.
Dave and Maggie were the first couple to “sign up” to move the Pearland to help plant Covenant, and I remember being stunned when Daniel told me they were “in.” I truly thought he was joking. We had been praying that people would join us to plant, and yet my astonishment at seeing those prayers answered showed me how weak and faithless my prayers had actually been. And yet, God saw fit to use Dave and Maggie to answer my wimpy prayers with a resounding “yes.” It strengthened my faith and gave me courage for this thing called church planting.
Throughout the years, God has continued to use Maggie to strengthen my faith, give me courage, lift me up when it is hard and cheer me on when I stumble (or, more accurately, face-plant) in this journey of following Jesus. The long-standing tradition of encouragement went from a coffee shop on a leisurely Sunday afternoon to late-night talks on the couch after our (now 7 between us) kids had gone to bed, and yet the encouragement was no less life-giving. In fact, it was more so. Because over the years, the encouragement has overflowed from experiencing much hurt and loss and difficulty and darkness, our own and that of the people we love dearly and strive to care for well, both inside and outside our own homes; we have found God’s grace sufficient in our weakness and the gospel powerful to bring hope and healing and light to all the sad and hard. I have learned so much from time spent with Maggie, listening to her and watching her live out her identity as a follower of Jesus.
Maggie loves people creatively and sacrificially. I remember the first time I heard Maggie say she wanted to send her husband Dave on a personal retreat. I was amazed that she was choosing to fully bear the work of all mealtimes, naptimes and bedtimes for her three tiny kids, for 24+ hours, not due to a job or any other “requirement,” only out of love for her husband and a desire to see him refreshed and encouraged. This is just one example of thousands I could share of Maggie choosing to love at great cost to herself.
Maggie is so courageous. She would say that she isn’t, but she is. From the uncertainty of fostering to a cross-country move to San Francisco, Maggie is consistently placing herself in situations where her own comfort is sacrificed and her faith is stretched, forcing her to remember the Christ is enough, that He is all she needs and that God is good and can be trusted.
Friend, I cannot believe that we are rapidly approaching one year of not living in the same city. You and Dave and Shep and Trini and Lucy, King's Cross and SF, are never far from my thoughts and prayers. My life has been shaped and continues to be shaped by your sacrificial love, much-needed encouragement and faithful prayers for me and my family.