Heart of the Heartland: Judy Nilsen is woman of many talents

Sunday, January 9, 2011
Judy Nilsen is outreach ministry director at Christ Church of the Heartland in Cape Girardeau. (Fred Lynch)

Christ Church of the Heartland outreach director and ministry administrator Judy Nilsen is a woman of many talents. Before joining Christ Church of the Heartland in 1992, Mrs. Judy -- as she likes to be called -- worked and received training in school administration, which she believes has helped her in the various leadership roles that she serves at the church. Nilsen serves as the church's day care/preschool administrative director. She also helps in the coordination of guest speakers, perform weddings and, as she puts it, does "whatever it takes" to help the people.

How long have you been a member of your faith? Since 8 years old.

What drew you to serve in a leadership role? A loving passion for Jesus and people. My past training has been in school administration, which has been implemented in the church and community very well. A leadership position allows the opportunity to serve, help equip and position people to reach their goals and fulfill their purpose. I love people and love to help them "be."

How did you become associated with Christ Church of the Heartland? Our family had visited this church since 1986 during special events. We began attending this church regularly in 1992 and became actively involved.

What do you see as one of the main purposes of the Celebrate Recovery organization at the church? One of the main purposes is to help all people who are struggling with hurts, habits and hang-ups by showing them the loving power of Jesus Christ through a recovery process. The people are encouraged in truth, hope and faith.

What age ranges do you serve in Celebrate Recovery? There are no age restrictions, but usually people between 19 and 65 years old attend.

How do you help motivate or encourage individuals to attend this ministry? Many of the people are personally interested in this ministry because of their own need or the desire to help others. Communication is one-on-one, and each person receives a personal invitation by phone or in person, as well as announcements on our website and Facebook. Everyone feels accepted and is encouraged to become involved. Also at the end of each meeting, we have a great time of fellowship with a fantastic meal.

What would you deem as the greatest challenge that you have faced while overseeing the Celebrate Recovery at your church? The greatest challenge is to help the people sort the truth from the lies. One example: People with suicidal tendencies, we encourage them to hold on as we pray for them, speak truth, as well as link them with the professional resources to meet their specific need.

You serve in a supportive role to the head pastor at Christ Church of the Heartland. Who supports you? Many people. There are so many wonderful volunteers who serve in every one of our outreach ministries. We have teams and head leaders for every ministry, which permits effectiveness with many lives being touched. These people are my support and allow the continual growth at Christ Church of the Heartland.

What would you say is the greatest achievement you have seen since taking this position? "Things that were not and now they are" on a daily basis. Many have accepted Christ, allowed their lives to change with the restoration of families, finances, jobs, education, etc. to become valuable, contributing citizens who are now sharing the love of Christ with others.

Were you involved with Christ Church of the Heartland before taking a leadership position at the church? Yes, as the pianist for the praise and worship team for several years.

What do you think makes this organization special? Strong leadership, integrity, local community and regional vision, unity, volunteer teams, foundational base in prayer and the Bible, and especially people loving and valuing people. Each person is special here at Christ Church of the Heartland.

What's your favorite verse and why? John 3:16-17, "For God so loved the world [you and me] that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus], that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."

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