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James 1:27 Plan Brings Hope After Tragedy

“God was preparing me for what was to come.” These words from a new widow helped spark an idea that would bring a community together.

Robert and Terri Arthur had always planned their upcoming school year together. This year, they were pleased to have accomplished it in early June.  The bills were paid, the farm trucks were in good repair, and the Guinea chicks had hatched. Although Robert had not yet gotten the crops in, there was still time. So Robert and his sons Brendan (10) and Caleb (8) drove into town to buy supplies to build a coop for the new chicks. 

That was the day Terri received the call. Robert had died in the parking lot of the home improvement store, his boys watching nearby.
Kathryn Dillow, Nebraska Ambassador for the Home School Foundation, heard about the tragedy and called Terri to see how she could help. After Terri told her what happened, she shared, “Now I see that God was putting things in order.” Tears overtook Terri. “We did our homeschool planning early.  God kept Robert busy, preventing him from getting the crops in. There was no way I could have handled the harvest at that time, right after his death.”

The farm had been Robert and Terri's dream. They had poured seven years of hard work and savings into making it a reality. It wasn’t just their family’s business—the farm was an adventure, an extension of their homeschooling journey. “The farm is very much a part of our homeschool plan,” Terri said firmly. “We want to stay.”

But with Robert’s death, Terri wondered how she could financially carry on their vision. Her resolve was tested when she learned that her family would not receive any death benefits from Robert’s military service. There was also no insurance money because Robert’s bout with cancer years before had left him uninsurable, and government death benefits would take 60—90 days to process.  All of this added to the heartache Terri already carried from learning that her mother had late-stage cancer.

“I couldn’t even pay for my husband’s funeral, so my parents paid for it, selling one of our farm trucks in the process. I just need to make it through this time,” Terri stressed to Kathryn. “I need to make sure my boys are cared for. We have eggs from our chickens, milk and cheese from our dairy goats, and a freezer full of meat. But we don’t have any fresh produce and the boys need clothes.”

After this conversation, Ambassador Dillow felt that God had placed the words of James 1:27 on her heart: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows.” She  rallied support for Terri and her sons, determined to see these words lived out.

Ambassador Dillow broadcasted her James 1:27 plan across her homeschool community. The Nebraska Christian Home Educators Association posted it on their social media, and the Home Educator’s Network sent out an appeal through its e-Tree. The first offer of help came from a neighboring family who wanted to donate clothing. Then a church planning its fall garage sale gave Terri some winter coats, work clothes, and shoes from their sale items.  A grant from the NE State Ambassador Fund helped them get through one month’s expenses, and a local retail store donated a $50 gift card.

Since delivering the grant and donated items, Ambassador Dillow has made a follow-up visit to the farm. She reports that Terri and the boys are doing well.

“Terri is resilient. She knows where her strength comes from,” Ambassador Dillow recalled. “In our very first phone conversation, Terri kept saying she was so grateful for everyone’s assistance, and she wanted to give back.  She wants to share her story with others so they can give or get help. During this visit with her, she referred a family in need from another state. Even in her time of distress, her heart is full of compassion for others who may be in a similar situation.”

This James 1:27 Plan resulted in a multitude of blessings for those who gave and those who received—especially for Ambassador Dillow, who made a real, tangible difference in her community. She hopes her plan will inspire others to do similar work in their own neighborhoods.

To learn more about becoming an ambassador, visit www.homeschoolfoundation.org/volunteer

To give to the Nebraska Ambassador Fund, follow this link: https://www.homeschoolfoundation.org/SAFDonations and select Nebraska from the drop-down menu.

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