So we have been praying for a long time that God would send someone to us who could provide us some guidance in that aspect of this ministry ... and, of course, that would need to be someone who had lost a brother or a sister.
About three months ago or so, we started a facebook page designed just for bereaved siblings. We felt that it was important to have a moderator on that page, to serve as a gatekeeper and to ensure that the discussions moved in a positive direction. That moderator has been me, and frankly, I'm not the right person for the job. The page has been VERY quiet, and I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I, who have not lost a sibling, am the moderator. Really, the page has not gotten off the ground at all. We feel that the page could be a springboard to a more active ministry to siblings, possibly even leading to retreats for them, like the ones we do for parents. In order for that to happen, though, we knew we needed someone these kids could really relate to to lead it.
A few weeks ago, God brought us into contact with a young man named Jason Clenney. He won our hearts immediately when he told Brad and I that he had shared Hannah's story with his youth group right after she was "promoted" (his word), and seven of his students got saved! He went on to share some of his personal story with us, about how he had lost his only sibling, his brother Clayton, in a car accident six years ago. He talked about how God had brought him through it, and had given him a passion for reaching out to young people who had lost siblings. Oh my! That was all we needed to hear!
Last night, the WWW board had dinner with Jason, and we talked for over three hours. What a great visit we had! We believe he is the man God has in mind to get this ministry to siblings underway, starting with him moderating the "While We're Waiting -- Support for Bereaved Siblings" facebook page. We'll see where God takes it from there.
We asked him to introduce himself on the While We're Waiting -- Support for Bereaved Parents facebook page (many of the kids on the siblings page will be their children), and this is what he had to say ...
Hello all! I hope this finds you well. My name is Jason Clenney and I am so happy to be welcomed into the While We're Waiting family. I have been brought onboard to help facilitate healing and give hope to those among us who have lost siblings. Suffering the loss of a child is hard, impossibly difficult to deal with I'm sure. I have never been in those shoes, and pray that I never have to be. However, I am no stranger to grief. Let me share with you a bit of my story so you can know where I am coming from. I encourage you to ask questions. You are trusting me with your child/children, so I want you to be comfortable with me!
Six years ago, I lost my only sibling. My brother Clayton was killed in an auto-incident (not an accident...it didn't catch God by surprise) near his home outside of Hot Springs. I had grown up in a Funeral Home setting, could counsel people "on the other side of the table" about death and grief, and could give all the "right answers" to the tough questions that tragedies ask. But until you have been through it, suffered, hurt, and taken ownership of your own grief, you just don't know what it is like! I have learned so much from that experience, through seeking out comfort in God's word, and from counseling with others who have lost loved ones. I have taught workshops to young people on how to deal with grief in a healthy way, even pioneering a grief recovery group for young people. And I have seen the GOOD that can come from accepting God's sovereign plan and seeking out His purpose in Clayton's passing. This season of grief in my life was actually a healthy, fruitful thing. It gave me the unique ability to identify with others who have been in my situation and empathize with their struggle. It has also given me opportunity to point others to the Healer of my hurt.
Knowing that you have lost a child, I hurt for you. Knowing that many of you have kids that are still trying to process all of the complex emotions (sometimes all at once) of losing their sibling, my heart goes out to them...and I would like to come alongside them and walk out this journey with them. I serve as the Associate Pastor: Pastor of Student and Music Ministries for Immanuel Baptist Church in Sheridan Arkansas. I am a believer in Christ, in His sacrifice, and in His power to save and restore! I also work some on the side in the Funeral Care field, having a degree in Mortuary Science and Funeral Service Education. I am an avid outdoorsman, spending as much time as I can in the woods or on the water...and was recently selected as Chaplain for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. I am an aggie at heart with a small farm and a ragamuffin assortment of critters. I have a beautiful bride, Heather, and an amazing little 16 month old daughter, Ava. If you have any recommendations for me that would assist in serving your child, let me know. Especially with young people, it is difficult for them to "let you in." They are not going to trust me with their sensitive issues and make themselves vulnerable and honest with me or others until they have confidence in the relationship. I look forward to getting to know you all and growing with you.
Why am I sharing all of this with you? A few reasons ...
First, please pray for Jason, that God would give him wisdom as he gets to know these hurting kids and young adults, builds relationships with them, and seeks to give them godly counsel. Of course, it's also important that he balances the time he gives to WWW with the responsibilities of his full-time job, and most importantly, his sweet family!
Second, please pray for these siblings, that they would be willing to open up their hearts and share with Jason and with each other, and that God would bring healing and hope to them.
Third, please pray for While We're Waiting, as we seek to follow God's leadership in all we do. We don't want to take a single step without His leading. We would love to see this Facebook group grow into a full-fledged ministry to siblings, but only if that's in His plan.
Finally, please help us spread the word. If you know a teen or an adult who has lost a sibling and who would like to connect with others who understand, have them search for "While We're Waiting -- Support for Bereaved Siblings" and request to join the group. It's a closed group, so only other members of the group can see their conversations ... it will be a safe place for them to talk about things that only other bereaved siblings can understand, and for them to pray for each other and encourage each other.
The Clenney Family