through His Word
Last week, Erin Austin guest-blogged for me about waiting on God. This week, I want you to hear her story. In this interview, you will see her heart for people, the amazing ministry she has, and the storm in her life that propelled her in a new direction. When you receive surprising news or go through a storm beyond your control, there is always hope, and God is able to do amazing things. He has done amazing things in and through Erin. Her brave spirit and powerful words inspire me, and as you read, I believe they will inspire you too.
- Tell us a little bit about yourself. What makes you uniquely you? (Are you a secret rock star? A glorious painter? A super nanny?)
I’ll be the first to admit I’m a unique person, but trust me when I say you don’t want to see me paint! I can’t even draw a good stick person. Having said that, I’m actually quite good at crafts, decorating, and making things beautiful, including the things that most people consider to be trash. It’s one of my specialties, well, that and entertaining children. I started working with children when I was a teenager. I’ve done everything from working as a camp counselor to being a house parent in a children’s home. I suppose that’s why my nephews are my three favorite people. There’s nothing quite like spending time with a child and helping him realize how special he is.
- What are your three favorite things to do in your free time?
First and foremost, I love spending time with people, especially my family and friends. One of my mantras is that people matter and not things. Having said that, my second favorite thing to do is read, but then, what kind of writer would I be if I didn’t enjoy reading? If there’s one item I can’t live without, it would be books. As for my third favorite thing to do, I love to travel and see and try new things. I look at life as an adventure. I want to see as much of this planet as God will allow.
- What is Broken but Priceless Ministries, and how did it get started?
Broken but Priceless Ministries is a ministry God led me to start four years ago, September 2010. I struggled with lupus (an autoimmune disease) since I was seventeen-years-old, but five years ago, I was diagnosed with another disease – Crohns. I became so sick, I had to quit my job and move in with my parents, which devastated me. I honestly thought God didn’t care about me. What I came to realize was that my struggle was normal. As God began to bring people in my life who were also struggling with chronic illnesses, I started to see sick people as an unreached people group within the church. Many people who are sick fall out of church because they feel alone and forgotten, by God and other Christians. BPM does many things, but our number one goal is to come alongside people who are sick and suffering and help them see they’re not alone. We always have someone available to talk with, and we help people see where God is in their suffering. The message is that even though our bodies may be broken, we are priceless in God’s eyes.
- Give us a little insight into how you would answer this question, "Why does God allow difficult things to happen in our lives?"
Good question! I think if we’re honest, we’ve all asked this question at least once in our lives. I know I have! What I’ve come to understand is that we live in a fallen world. When God first created the world, it was perfect. There was no sin, sickness, or suffering. But because God gave humans freewill, meaning we have the ability to choose what we do or don’t do, unlike an animal or bug, Adam and Eve chose to sin. When that happened, the world was no longer perfect. Bodies get sick, people die, and bad things happen. It’s why Jesus came to this earth to die on a cross. He was saving us, not only from sin, but also from the brokenness of this world. We still have to deal with difficult things while we live on Earth, but one day, we’ll be in Heaven and there will be no more pain and hardship.
- Have you seen God work good out of your hardships?
Without a doubt! I’m constantly amazed at how God has taken the broken pieces of my life and turned them into something amazing. The ministry is just the first of many things He has done. Because of getting sick, I’m now a published writer. I’ve written for a number of magazines and publications, and I’m working on my first book. I started speaking and traveling. I even got to travel to England last year and speak at a youth conference, something I’m still amazed that God allowed to happen. I now have friends living all over the world, and I’ve grown unbelievably close to my family. None of that would have happened if I hadn’t gotten sick.
- Can people who don't have a chronic disease benefit from your website and Facebook page? (I know I have!)
I get told every week they can. This ministry is geared towards people who are chronically sick, as well as their family members and caregivers. Having said that, we deal with suffering, which everyone deals with at some time or another, even if it’s not a sickness. We take an honest look at the hard questions people are scared to ask at church, such as, “Does God really love me or am I just the black sheep of His family?”. We do our best to talk with all people, no matter what’s happening in their lives, and encouraging them in the challenges they face.
- What new endeavor are you launching this fall?
We have several things we’re working on, but the next thing we will launch is a magazine. Although we’re not ready to be a paper magazine, we will hopefully launch an online magazine at the end of October. There’s nothing out there for people with a chronic illness, aside from the occasional magazine that focuses on a specific illness. We want to change that. I’m not sure how fast we’ll actually begin printing the magazine, but as long as it’s online, we’ll email it for free. Anyone can request to be added to the list by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- How can people find your ministry online?
There are several ways to connect with us. Our website is www.brokenbutpriceless.com. On our website, we post a devotion twice a week, which can be found at www.brokenbutpriceless.com/blog.html. We’re also on Facebook, where we post a thought for the day, Scripture, and quotes at various times throughout the day. The link to that is www.facebook.com/BrokenButPricelessMinistries. And if you’re on Twitter, you can find me at www.twitter.com/Erin_E_Austin.
- For someone who is struggling with a major difficulty right now, whether it's physical, spiritual, or emotional, what word of encouragement would you give them?
The thing I would say is to run to God. It’s so easy to run away from Him when bad things happen. I know I did, but it doesn’t help the situation or you. God sees you and what you’re going through, He loves you, and He cares. He’s just waiting for you to cry out to Him. So rather than turn against God when going through a difficult time, choose to run to Him for help and comfort. He’s the only One who can make sense out of pain, turn chaos into peace, and bring good out of something deplorable.
I hope you've enjoyed getting to know Erin these past two weeks. God gave me a treasure when I met her at BRMCWC (Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference) two years ago. She is a co-laborer in the faith to me, serving God with all she’s got, and she’s such an inspiration. If you've been touched by something Erin has said, I encourage you to check out her Facebook page which provides encouragement daily and her blog that shares uplifting devotions bi-weekly. Don’t forget to sign up for Broken but Priceless’ new magazine as well! Blessings, KatyErin Elizabeth Austin, Broken but Priceless Ministries, Katy Kauffman, Why does God let bad things happen