Former ACE iQuest intern Audrey Renner recently came back down to St. Mary, Jamaica, with her husband and father. After her trip, she headed back to the States and shared the following letter with our team. 

I’ve always loved springtime in Ohio. Suddenly, after months of the cold, gray, desolation that is winter in the Midwest, the natural world springs back to life. Each spring, when I see the flowers springing up out of the cold ground, I can’t help but to remember the final verse of Isaiah 61:

“The Sovereign Lord will show His justice to the nations of the world. Everyone will praise Him! His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring, with plants springing up everywhere.” – Isaiah 61:11 NLT

My husband Ricky and I just recently visited ACE after being away for 6 years. The last time we visited was on a college service trip in March of 2018. I had given my life to Christ the summer prior, during my internship with ACE, and Ricky did the same on this very trip in 2018. If our faith was a plant in the Lord’s garden, it would have looked like a delicate baby sprout the last time we were in Jamaica.

Returning 6 years later, so many things had changed, both in our lives and at ACE. Our proverbial faith plant had grown, matured, and started producing fruit while we were away. Upon returning, we saw how God had used the past 6 years to grow the “gardens” at ACE, too. Projects that were once seeds waiting to be planted, are now a reality. I remember Marla talking about her dream for the Children’s Village and the Peace House and about buying the neighboring property to the campus (now Green Life Farms). God reminded me of His faithfulness as we got to see the smiling faces of Lotoya’s family at their new home in the Children’s Village, as we lifted His praises with neighbors at the Peace House fellowship night, and even as we sifted through countless suitcases of thrift donations at the ACE office on the new property. 

Here’s the thing about spring flowers. You never know when or where they will decide to pop up. Only the Lord knows what is happening beneath the surface of the soil. Our trip to ACE reminded me of this. 

Since I gave my life to Christ, I have been praying that both my parents would grow in relationship with Him. After years of seemingly no progress, I grew tired and weary waiting for a sign this prayer would come true.

When Ricky and I felt the Lord calling us back to Jamaica in 2024, we also felt His call to invite our families to join us. Incredibly, my dad immediately jumped on the invitation. This was it, finally! I could see the “soil” start bumping up, preparing for his little faith plant to break the surface. 

While my dad did not give his life to Christ on this trip, his presence on our trip gives me a steadfast confidence that the Lord is moving in his heart. He got to experience the Lord’s presence in the very place that both Ricky and I had poured our hearts out to Him years ago, desperately searching for answers as we stumbled through our own spiritual journeys. 

Don’t give up, dear reader, on the seeds that you have planted. Even if you can’t see them, know that they are growing under the surface of the soil. Remember the Lord’s promise in Isaiah 61. You’ll never know when or where, but just as the plants come back every spring, He will bring your people, your faith, your peace, and your joy back to life, too. Keep planting, keep watering, and don’t give up!