Joy Evans, Middle Tennessee Chapter
“What are you saying ‘no’ to?”
That challenging question, posed by her pastor during a routine weekly sermon, penetrated Joy Evan’s heart. It was the push she needed to change her cautious “maybe” into a more confident “yes” to serve as Local Director for the CEF of Middle Tennessee chapter. Today Joy is an incredible example that others readily follow. Her leadership journey itself has taken some twists and turns to get where it is today. To appreciate her path, it helps to know a little more about what brought her to Sunday’s decision to serve.
After Joy’s children attended a Christian Youth In Action (CYIA) camp in North Carolina a few years earlier, she desired to know if there was a similar camp in Tennessee. Patricia Gaiser, who was the administrator for CEF of Tennessee at the time, told her there was a CYIA Camp coming up that summer, and asked if Joy would like to help with it. That camp experience began the journey. It sparked something in Joy’s heart to be part of the leadership of CEF in Tennessee. She asked if there was a director for the local chapter in her area and Patricia told her, at that time, there was not. Patricia asked if she had ever considered taking the job, and asked Joy to pray about it.
Over the next few months, this opportunity kept coming to her mind. Joy finally talked to local committee member Cheryl Downing about the ministry generally and the position of director specifically. Afterward Joy said she, “seriously prayed about it.” Some time still passes without Joy acting. While visiting family in North Carolina for Christmas, she overheard her father talking to all his grandkids. Joy was in the kitchen, but clearly heard what he was sharing in the living room. He was sharing about his decision to join the ministry of CEF, even though he was at retirement age. He said at first, he didn’t want to be in ministry when he retired, but went on to emphasize to them, “you have got to do what God wants.” Joy was literally crying hearing these words, as she fully understood the commitment her father was making as well as the obvious correlation to her life at that very moment. She continued to pray about her decision, and the commitment it would entail.
Then once again, she got a “Divine Nudge” on a mission’s trip to the Dominican Republic. She woke in the middle of the night with the thought: “I can’t do it like Rita.” Rita was her sister, who was involved in CEF and doing amazing things in her chapter. The next day she heard a sermon about the loaves and fishes Jesus multiplied to feed thousands. The point? You give what you have so God can do with it what He wants. It can’t be multiplied if it’s not first given to Him. With that parable, God had given her what she needed to hear.
Upon returning home to Tennessee, she still asked for confirmation this what God wanted for her. That’s what brings us to the burning question, “What are you saying ‘no’ to?” from the sermon Sunday morning. It hit her between the eyes. She said “yes” to God and the rest is His story, lived out through her willingness, love, and commitment. Joy and her husband, Tom, have experienced God’s provision in diverse ways through the years and she has continued to serve God and CEF faithfully.
The CEF ministry of CYIA, where Joy first started, is still one of her great passions. It’s a training program to help middle- and high-school students learn to share Christ with children and be leaders in their communities and churches. Click HERE and enter Joy-CYIA in Tribute Name to give a gift to CEF of Middle Tennessee in honor of Joy, all proceeds will go toward providing scholarships for students at this year’s CYIA Training Week, June 5-11.