There is more than one way to make a difference in your community. In the case of my sister, Penni Goldman, it is her unwavering commitment to her calling in ministry. She inspires me and I want to share a little of her with the rest of you.
The bond of sisters is a unique one. Especially when you're so close in age, like Penni and I. We may not always agree, but we're there for one another when no one else is. Over the years, I've watched Penni become one of the most incredible women I've ever known. Her humor is infectious, her love of family unwavering, and her commitment to serving God an inspiration to many. I thought a lot about what I wanted to say and decided to reach out for a little help from some women she has touched.
Hope Driskell Warren has known my family the longest. She remembers Penni as a little girl. Hope was 13 when she met us in church. She's seen Penni overcome challenges that would break most people. I asked Hope how Penni has had an effect on her life. Quite simply put, Penni's very example of honesty and integrity in her dealings with others has had the most profound impact on Hope. "Penni has impacted me in the way I serve the Lord. Honesty and integrity are two of the most important things that someone has. Penni exhibits these characteristics in a way that provides guidance. Realizing that there is no one responsible for my actions, my decisions, but most important my salvation but me. I have to make these decisions before I can help or provide guidance/leadership/true companionship to anyone else. This is something I see Penni do in her life everyday," she told me. Sometimes, it isn't what you say to people that has the most impact, it's the life they see you live. The very example she has set has had an impact on Hope and, as a result, the people that Hope will come into contact with throughout her life.
Next, I talked to Shante Ball. She was 12 years old when she began attending our church and was one of Penni's first students in the ministry. Shante has a gift of song. Penni encouraged Shante's use of that gift in church. I talked to Shante about Penni and what she had gotten most from her association. "She has taught me to always keep on going no matter what people say. She is such a strong woman and an awesome mentor," she told me. In today's world of peer pressure, teens have a tough time remaining true to their Christian upbringing. Through Penni's help and encouragement, Shante has evolved into a beautiful woman that has made it through high school and college and is now a responsible young woman in the medical profession. Penni will touch the lives of many through Shante's song and her ministrations in the medical field.
Kristi Lorren was next on my list of women to talk to about my sister. Kristi and Ryan started coming to the church about 10 years ago, but it is just in the last three years that Kristi and Penni have developed a close relationship. I asked Kristi what she thought made Penni so effective as a leader in the church and community. "I believe the passion she exhibits makes her the most powerful. Passion to study the Word and gain knowledge, wisdom and understanding. Passion in her love for her Lord, Jesus Christ. Passion in her worship of Him. Passion in her teaching and preaching. Passion in impacting those around her. There is nothing she would rather do than show Christ to others," she told me. Penni does live her life with passion. It is that passion that draws people to her.
Last, I talked to Julia Hammock. A single mother, Julia has not known Penni as long as the others, but may know her better than most. When I spoke to her about Penni, what struck me the most was of how she talked about Penni's loyalty. Through a very difficult period in Julia's life, Penni stood by her when others deserted the field. Penni was there for Julia and her child to offer comfort and support when they needed it most. I know this to be fact because I've seen it. And I truly believe that if Penni hadn't been there when no one else was, Julia would not be the woman she is today. It takes courage to raise a child on your own and do the right thing. It's easier to fight that fight if you have someone there beside you in the dark times. To stand shoulder to shoulder with someone in a fight can be a difficult thing to do, but Penni does it without thinking twice. She asks for nothing in return except that you live a moral life to the best of your ability so that you can be an inspiration to others and your children.
Penni has touched the lives of many in her life. Her humor and straight talk make her someone you want to be around. Her dedication to family and friends is unwavering. Penni's commitment to do the best job possible in what the Lord has called her to do is an inspiration. Penni loves unconditionally, listens without judging, and counsels without condescension. One of my niece's described Penni the best. "I would have to say she's the legend on my spiritual map. If I don't quite understand something, I ask her cause she's not going to tell me what a terrible person I am for not knowing and she'll actually discuss it with me rather than preach it to me," said Stephanie Macomber.
Through all the struggles and conflicts of her life, Penni has remained a constant source of support and inspiration to her family. She touches the lives of all who come into her sphere in ways that we can't even begin to comprehend. Her example has had a dramatic affect on her church and her community. Her words have brought comfort to those who were hurting. Her testimony has inspired others to take a more active leadership role in their church and community. Her love has helped our nieces and nephews, as well as the children of others, overcome some of their most difficult days. Sometimes the positive difference we make doesn't come from what we say, but in the way we lead our lives. I choose to try and change my world through political activism, Penni DOES change her world by setting a moral example through her ministry. Let us all strive to take Penni's example and live our life in a way that leaves others in no doubt of where we stand.