I am dedicating this post to a wonderful couple that I have gotten to know over the last two years. They have inspired me, challenged me, encouraged me and been such a vital part of our tutoring and mentoring program. Their life is a beautiful picture of my Jesus.
I’ve never been a newlywed but I imagine that the first year or two of marriage most are scrambling around to make their first home together, establish their newfound identity as a couple and to some extent, getting stuck in each others’ own little world. Not the Fitzpatricks.
In the neighborhood here in TN where I have had the honor of serving through our tutoring ministry, Backyard, Laura would volunteer her time to teach English classes in the homes of some of the families. This is how I first met her. The fact alone that she was a Spanish speaking white girl who enjoyed spending time teaching and getting to know the Latino families was reason enough to admire her. I didn’t know much of Josh before but I know now that he has a servant’s heart and is always sensitive to the Lord’s leading.
The summer that Josh and Laura got married they moved into this neighborhood. I’m not sure they knew exactly what they were getting themselves into but they soon found out. Their house was never quiet and rarely empty of sweaty-faced kids sprawled on the floor playing a board game, preteens sitting at the kitchen table working on their homework, toddlers in the living room dancing to Waka Waka or a praise song and at least some child in the kitchen begging for a snack… or a meal. At any given time between work/school hours and bedtime you would find Josh playing soccer with kids in the yard or (most likely) with them building something out his ten sets of Legos. Laura would be assisting a mother with a school or job application or baking cookies in the kitchen with some of the little girls. The two of them also initiated a wonderful curriculum about the Kingdom of God that we have used for our weekly program. Not only have they both themselves been incredible resources for us but their house became the first physical building that Backyard was able to use consistently. It takes a pretty good amount of sacrifice to let your home be invaded on a daily basis. There is no doubt that this neighborhood has been impacted by the Fitzpatricks.
One thing they knew going into this was that they had a Love that they wanted to share. They wanted to commit to living this out in an honest and gritty way. Their lives shout the Gospel and they know the necessary times to use words. I am so thankful for this season that we were able to experience together. Their pure-hearted compassion for others is contagious and I hold close to my heart the Bible studies we shared, the conversations we had and the sweet moments of just being with God’s children together.
I know this little town in Tennessee suffered a loss Saturday as Josh and Laura drove off in a Uhaul truck but God has plans for them elsewhere. Their impact lives on and we’ve already prayed for others to step up in the gaps.
The Fitzpatricks didn’t just help people, they joined them. That is the call of Christ. As one of our favorite authors and activists, Shane Claiborne, says,
“[they are] living out a love that disrupts social order and calls forth a new world.”
Thanks Josh and Laura for being the change you want to see in the world and for all you have taught me.