Love Them With the Love of Jesus
Karmen during a trip to Haiti, 2009
Wrapping up a long day at the Many Hands Market, Karmen catches a glimpse of a car pulling up outside the store. Out pops a four-year-old boy named Avery and a single-parent mother, Andrea. Karmen has gotten to know this family of two well over the past months, as they have become frequent shoppers at the store. Andrea recently left her abusive boyfriend and is working hard to be the sole-provider for her family at the local salvage yard. Because of the type of work, she tends to go through a lot of clothes and needs quality clothes at a fair price. Every time these two walk into the store, Karmen does her best to love them with the love of Jesus. On this occasion, the tables are turned. Avery, in his four-year-old way bursts through the door and has a bouquet of flowers in his hands. Earlier in the day, Andrea and Avery picked some flowers from their garden and wrapped the stems in ribbons. Handing them to Karmen, Andrea says, “Thanks for being so good to us. Thank you for caring about us.” At that moment, the reckless love of Jesus bursts through the brokenness in our world and two people feel the touch of a Savior. Karmen Brown loves people with the love of Jesus, and the ministry has been changed because of it.
“…because of this love, she impacts her world.”
I first met Karmen in 2012, as she had been going to Haiti with us through Hope Reformed Church in Spencer, IA, for the past few years. My first impression of this spunky,
Karmen (Center Right) leading a team trip, 2017
Because of the way I’m wired, there have been times in my life where I see right past people. I’m not proud of this and in God’s gracious plan, He places people in my life to guide me in areas of my weakness. Karmen has taught me to see people, to understand genuine hospitality, and create a culture of appreciation. I’m challenged weekly to love people right where they are, while pointing them to Jesus. When I get ahead of myself, I have a conversation with Karmen and through her actions, she reminds me to bring the love of Jesus. I’m so thankful to call her friend and to have her as a trusted colleague to guide the ministry.
Karmen receives a donation from a group local grade school girls
Karmen was one of the original founders of the Many Hands Market and has been leading the business since
Karmen serving a customer at the Many Hands Market
Many Hands for Haiti stands on the shoulders of Karmen Brown, who shows us how to love others with the love of Jesus. May God bless Karmen and give her strength to continue to be a light in our broken world. As she has told me many times, “After all, Jesus came for the lost, the dirty, the broken, and the shoplifters. We are sinners and we all need Jesus. That is what we focus on here at the Market.”
Many Hands stands on the shoulders of Tim and Lucia Van Maanen, whose sacrificial “I’m with you” spirit forever set our organization on God’s path.
Many Hands for Haiti stands on the shoulders of Pastor Francois Romelus, who is our angel on earth, gently guiding us with wisdom, courage, and love.
Many Hands stands on the shoulders of Jean Rene Deforge, who serves with a smile on his face, quietly working with humility and love to transform his community.