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Jena Taylor - Woman of Faith

CFOIC Heartland’s Chairman of the Board, Margy Pezdirtz describes her as “a tiny little Texas gal, full of vim and vitality. Her energy level is astounding. She is contagious and makes you want to know more of her.”  With a description like that, who wouldn’t want to meet Jena Taylor?

Jena Taylor is the Executive Director of Faith City Ministries, located in Amarillo, Texas. Amarillo, a city of about 250,000, is situated at the intersections of I-40 and I-27 in the panhandle of Northern Texas. Low and flat, to the passing motorist it would seem that Amarillo has little to offer other than oil wells and a few high rise office buildings. But what a shame it would be to miss one of Jena’s ‘centers of life’ simply called Faith City Ministries.

Jena is a talented and successful portrait artist, and before joining Faith City Ministries, had done very well in that field. Asked how she got involved in Faith City, coming from a world far removed from the needy she helps to feed as the director of Faith City Ministries, Jena tells her story.  She was at home one day painting and listening to a tape of an American missionary to Mozambique.  She experienced something intensely spiritual and felt led to devote herself to good works.  That led her to volunteer at  Faith City Ministries.

It was the last thing she could have imagined herself doing!  “Upon my arrival,” she explains, “I asked to sort clothes in the sorting room so that I wouldn’t actually have to interact with the homeless. But God required more of me, and I began teaching the women’s Bible study here.” She was asked to join the board, and in six months, became President. A year later Jena began teaching Bible to guests off the streets. “I loved that most of all. The guests just came to be so dear to me.” In August of 2007, Jena became the director of Faith City Ministries, a position she has held for the past seven years. Taylor insists that God has shed His love for the poor onto her heart.

But Jena was not satisfied with her work at Faith City Ministries and sought to find some way to combine it with one other love – a love for Israel!  In fact, when Avital from CFOIC Heartland in Israel first phoned Jena asking for an interview she exclaimed in sincere excitement: “I feel so honored to be talking to a Jew and from Israel no less!”  Laying their hands on the map of Israel, Taylor and her colleagues at the ministry pray daily for Israel’s safety and well-being. And each month, the ministry takes ten percent of its total revenue, a tithe, and invests it in CFOIC Heartland, as well as other worthy organizations. Thanks to Jena, CFOIC Heartland receives monthly donations from Faith City toward projects for the needy in Judea and Samaria. “My favorite checks to sign are tithe checks. I love that job” proclaims Jena enthusiastically.

On reflection, Taylor felt compelled to open her heart to Israel, inspired by sermons of Pastor John Hagee. “We believe with all our heart that God will bless us if we bless Israel.” Not knowing where to begin, she contacted a Faith City Ministries board member, Mike Isley, who suggested Taylor support the pioneering work of CFOIC Heartland. Shortly thereafter Mike introduced Jena to Sondra Oster Baras during a short visit in Amarillo, and the rest is history.

Since November 2008, the monthly donations from Faith City Ministries have been allocated to two CFOIC Heartland projects, sharing similar objectives as Faith City Ministries, feeding the hungry. Each month these donations are appropriated equally for Gush Katif Refugee Food Packages, and the Samaria Family Assistance Program. Both serve to satisfy a most basic human need – sustenance. To someone who goes hungry, food gives hope, and can instill a renewed appreciation for God, and the land he has given us. “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.” (Deuteronomy 8:10)

Israel’s disengagement from Gush Katif will remain a dark period in Israel’s history. Instead of showing appreciation for the residents of Gush Katif, who compromised their own safety, and put themselves on the frontlines against the enemy, Israel’s leadership expelled them from their homes and land. The disengagement left many Gush Katif families in severe financial crisis. Families that once enjoyed financial stability are now in need. For the past nine years, CFOIC Heartland has been at the forefront of providing Gush Katif refugees with humanitarian aid. Together with individuals and groups such as Faith City Ministries, we strive to show these people that they have not been forgotten. We offer our support, providing them with food packages and extra holiday assistance.

A similar need is being met in Samaria where there are far too many families in need of help putting food on the table. The Samaria Family Assistance Program helps these desperate families by providing monthly food packages for them, as well as special holiday food packages allocated before the holidays of Passover and Sukkot. The Samaria Family Assistance Program is fortunate to have a regular supporter in Faith City Ministries, who can be counted on to help eliminate the problem of hunger in the Samaria region. Now the Samaria Family Assistance Program will also address the problem of hunger within the elementary school framework. This year, they will deliver healthy sandwiches to underprivileged children, ensuring them at least two balanced meals daily.

It is impossible to measure the amount of hope and self-respect these programs afford their beneficiaries. Jena Taylor and Faith City can confidently say “I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging for bread” (Psalms 37:25) for they are sustaining so many.

While Taylor’s work in Amarillo is acclaimed by many, her job does not end there. She makes it a point to bless Israel – the Gush Katif refugees and the hungry in Samaria – and for that we are grateful!

Thanks to Jena, CFOIC Heartland receives monthly donations from Faith City toward projects for the needy in Judea and Samaria. “My favorite checks to sign are tithe checks. I love that job” proclaims Jena enthusiastically.

We believe with all our heart that God will bless us if we bless Israel.

To someone who goes hungry, food gives hope, and can instill a renewed appreciation for God, and the land he has given us. “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.” (Deuteronomy 8:10)

For the past nine years, CFOIC Heartland has been at the forefront of providing Gush Katif refugees with humanitarian aid. Together with individuals and groups such as Faith City Ministries, we strive to show these people that they have not been forgotten.

The Samaria Family Assistance Program is fortunate to have a regular supporter in Faith City Ministries, who can be counted on to help eliminate the problem of hunger in the Samaria region.