When Karen Stevens and her family moved to San Diego from the Bay Area, she felt a little like Abraham.
God told her to leave her home, her extended family, everything she knew -- and travel to a foreign land. Forced out of her comfort zone, Karen was being moved by God to go do something new for Him. Something that would bless hundreds, maybe thousands.
All Karen ever wanted to be was a wife and mother. Born in Turlock, California, the third oldest child in a family of eight, her father was a pastor. The family lived all over California. She graduated from in high school in Sacramento. Then they moved to the Bay Area, to a church where the family of her husband-to-be, Mark Stevens, had worshipped for generations.
Karen volunteered as a preschool Bible class and Sunday school teacher and children's choir director. And then, after marrying Mark at the tender age of 19, she became mother to four children: Joshua, Jonathan, Jacob and Jubilee. She was surrounded by children, and loved it.
Life was not without challenges that tested their faith. Joshua was born premature and predicted to not live. But thankfully, he did (and is now in his 30s). Mark, an entrepreneur and businessman, had career ups and downs. But life was full and rewarding.
Then, at 40, Karen and Mark made the difficult move to Southern California.
"That's when God started changing my heart toward ministering to women," Karen said.
Up to this point, Karen had focused on her husband, on her family, and on helping in children's ministries. Now, in a new town, worshipping at the new church, making new friends -- her eyes were opened.
"I started seeing women overwhelmed with life," she said. Everywhere she saw women struggling with rocky marriages, finances, rebellious children, career challenges, divorce...
Divorce was a particularly painful topic for the Stevenses, who have been happily married for 34 years. In their 40s they started to see their friends' marriages break up, and it was devastating.
Karen and Mark met Pastor Miles McPherson when they enrolled a son and daughter in Horizon Christian School. They began attending the Rock the year it was launched.
That led the Stevenses' marriage ministry. For eight years they have been teaching pre-marriages classes and mentoring hundreds young couples.
Meanwhile, Karen and Teresa Holderby began meeting for two hours weekly for nine months to pray and plan what would become the S.I.S.T.E.R.S. in Christ ministry to women.
Eight years later, the Rock Church Women's ministry -- or ministries -- influences and empowers hundreds of women, maybe thousands, to be used by Jesus Christ.
Whether they're dealing with broken marriages, single parenting, dating questions, self-image problems -- women at the Rock can grow through all seasons of life and go out and minister to their own families and communities.
Karen is amazed at what God has done through her in the last decade. He broadened her territory, and developed gifts and talents she didn't know she had. And she hasn't stopped growing.
The Women's Ministry is developing a one-on-one mentoring program, and an outreach to teen moms.
She and Mark when they entered their 50s sat down to set some goals. They want to "finish strong." To finish strong as as a married couple, as parents and grandparents, and as ministry leaders.
Karen Stevens, like Abraham, obeyed God's call, and because of that has produced countless women who now are out there doing things for the Kingdom.Congratulations, Karen Stevens, Rock Hero for July!