HGTV Reality Star Renovates Life with a Little More Faith
CBN.com ABOUT JEN
Jen gave her life to Christ at the young age of six. Her father was a pastor and she spent most of her childhood within the Church. She wryly sums up her college years saying, “In the fall of 1992, a college junior named Brandon Hatmaker pretended he needed another fork in the Oklahoma Baptist University cafeteria so he would “randomly” arrive at the utensil cart just as my freshman self was getting there in line. Obviously, with moves that smooth, we got married. Seventeen years after the wedding, we’ve created a whole life, including a bunch of headstrong kids, a temperamental garden, and a church plant in Austin, TX, where we have lived for 12 years.” They have been involved in full time ministry and have adopted two children from Ethiopia.
THE HATMAKERS ON HGTV
A network executive who reads Jen’s blog emailed her asking if they could develop a show about their family. Jen and Brandon vetted the process and negotiated to make sure that they would be cared for and that their family would be viewed in a correct way. The network communicated that they were not out to make them look bad but that they wanted their viewers to care about them and like them. They showed them that there is an enormous demographic looking for good family fun. The Hatmakers realized that it is so rare and special for a Christian family to find their way into mainstream media in a healthy and positive way that this was a great opportunity. The family had actually been running at a break neck speed and doing the show meant they could spend five months together. Filming was a great experience and Brandon even said that the show really saved their family. Jen came out of filming with stricter boundaries so she could be home and not get caught up in busyness.
AN INTERRUPTED LIFE
In January of 2007, Jen was growing tired from itinerant ministry and writing and was desperately looking forward to spending the next two months resting at home. She was looking to be rejuvenated but by the end of the two months she still didn’t feel right. She felt a tension, a frustration with her life, a nagging feeling of “is this it?” but couldn’t bulldog her way through the feelings. While she was driving home one evening with her kids, she unknowingly prayed a dangerous prayer out of desperation, “God, raise up in me a holy passion.” She hoped that the prayer would make her feel better and bring happiness but it sparked a flame that would change her and her family’s life forever.
Later that week she was reading John 21:15, “When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” She felt God ask her if she loved Him more than anything, which caught her off guard. She was surprised by the question and offended because she was active in ministry, writing, and pastoring people. Within the same verse Jesus continued saying, “Then feed my sheep.” She felt God tell her, “You do feed souls, but twenty-four thousand of My sheep will die today because no one fed their bellies; eighteen thousand of them are My youngest lambs, starving today in a world with plenty of food to go around. If you truly love me, you will feed My Sheep. My people are crumbling and dying and starving, and you’re blessing blessed people and serving the saved.” She felt God calling her to serve the lowly and the broken, she felt God calling her to the poor.
Jen’s eyes began to be opened to the huge issue of poverty worldwide. The American dream that she had been living and pursuing began to change before her eyes as she saw the excess and ignorance of it. Jen says, “Our perspective is limited, and our church culture is so consumer oriented that we’re blinded to our responsibility to see God’s kingdom come to “all nations,” as He was so fond of saying in His Word.” Aside from what our nation is doing, Jen was challenged with what she was personally doing about the poor. She was aware that we could only make a tiny ripple of impact but that it is foolish to remain paralyzed by the scope of poverty and not do anything about it.
Jen and her husband began turning their eyes to the poor by feeding the hungry downtown, taking homeless people out to dinner, and sharing holidays with the poor. They started out awkwardly because they were focused on meeting people’s needs but later learned to focus on them as people. Jen says that giving dignity to the poor is very important and that handouts and charities sometimes contribute to cycles of oppression. She encourages people to focus their time consistently going deep with just one group of people and thus showing you care for them and build relationship. Through their relationships with the poor Jen found a lot of heartache for these individuals but also so much joy. Jen and Brandon realized that their lives were being split between the poor and their current Church. They went to an Easter service out of town and witnessed a preacher encourage the Church to leave their shoes and socks at the altar for the homeless people. They left their shoes at the altar and walked away changed people. They randomly received a phone call from a friend of a friend and within two weeks they had received funding to start their Church plant through the Free Methodist Church.
- Of the 6 billion people on planet Earth, about 1.2 billion live on .23 cents a day.
- Half of the world lives on less than $2.50 a day.
- The wealthiest 1 billion people average $70 a day.
- If you make $35,000 annually you are in the top 4%.
- If you make $50,000 annually you are in the top 1%.
Someone dies of hunger every 3.6 seconds. Last year 22 million people died of preventable diseases; 10 million were children.