Shaped to Serve

06/21/2013
Karen Koczwara

When Saddleback Church went through the Good Neighbor series in December of 2011, Jessica and her husband knew they wanted to help their neighbor, Deanna. Deanna was a single mother with a young son named Sean. Sean had severe behavioral problems, which made watching him even for a day quite a challenge. But Jessica and Dan knew they wanted to help. Little did they know they’d end up being much more than just neighbors.

Prior to the Good Neighbor series, the Jessica and Dan enjoyed several family outings with both Deanna and Sean. And then, one week before Christmas, Sean ran up the stairs shouting to Jessica that his mom had just collapsed. Unfortunately, a few days later, Deanna passed away from a Pulmonary Embolism. Dan and Jessica both immediately knew they needed to step up and be this boy’s family

After they made that decision, Jessica felt as if God had been preparing them for this adventure their entire lives. Dan lost both his parents as a young boy and Jessica’s biological father was never in the picture. Neither of them could ever imagine that God had plans for these tragedies that they didn’t understand at the moment. “But His plans are good. And when Sean retreats to a place of anger, hurt and resentment, we are prepared for that.”

Despite being a young mother to Elijah, Jessica still felt a bit unqualified. However, she resonated with the story of Mary, called by God to birth Jesus. “Mary could have never imagined the things that happened to her. Her story taught me God has plans for us we might not understand, but his plans are good. I need to trust Him with all my heart. He will help me, like He helped Mary, and get me through.”

Feeling God’s strength every day, Jessica lovingly cared for Sean and Elijah while working through the court system. Contacting next of kin caused anxious moments, but the need for Sean to be part of a loving, caring family conquered the legalities making Dan and Jessica guardians for Sean. The Turner’s nurturing created a place for Sean to grow and thrive. “He has come a long way and is excelling at school. We are honored to call him our son.”

Recently Jessica gave birth to another son, Jonah. She is excited “to experience joy and happiness as a family. It will be such a positive thing for all of us to grow as a family together. We always stress to our kids that we go through things in life so that we have the opportunity in the future to help someone else go through the same thing. Life is not without many struggles, but if we hold the hands of those in need, we are serving God’s greater purpose for our lives.”

With her loving husband and three sons, Jessica sees her life as part of God’s plans. “People often don’t understand their own strength in God and are hesitant to move out of their comfort zone. We don’t have to know what is going to happen. We just need to follow Him.”