Smile Again Ministries is Celebrating our 10th Anniversary!
Families have an option to lay a memorial stone on our Pathway of Hope Garden path if they want. It's an incredibly emotional moment.
At 2:30 pm on May 4, 2007, I nervously stepped into the office of the Minnesota Secretary of State to register Smile Again Ministries as a nonprofit corporation. What was only a dream days before was about to become a reality.
Smile Again Ministries celebrates its 10th anniversary today. In the next few days Judy and I are going to be sharing some of the miracles we’ve seen as we put our trust in God to open doors and provide the finances that we would need for this adventure.
Judy and I had talked for a L-O-N-G time about the possibility of opening a retreat center dedicated to helping families after the death of a child. Then one day, some friends of ours showed up on our doorstep for a visit. They had been members of a previous church that I had pastored. After visiting for a while the husband handed me an advertisement for a bed and breakfast that was for sale and said, “You know, I remember you and Judy mentioning starting a bed and breakfast for families who had a child die and then I saw this. I just thought I’d give it to you if you were still interested in that.”
Well, we didn’t pursue the bed and breakfast in the ad, but we did begin to pray about whether God was prompting us to consider the idea. Judy and I talked about the possibility. We talked about what we thought this kind of ministry would look like. We wondered out loud whether we were even qualified to counsel families. Then there was the question of fund raising to raise funds for land, a building, and all that goes along with that. And then there were the government hoops to jump through to become a nonprofit 501 (C) 3 corporation.
In the midst of all these questions and hundreds of others we began to hear God calling out to us, “Are you willing to take a giant step of faith with Me?” After much prayer and fasting we said, “Yes! You lead and we’ll follow.”
Today Judy and I would like to recognize the four people who would become the members of our original SAM Board. To say that they needed to have faith with us is an understatement.
Bob Strong was the first person we talked to. I knew Bob from serving on other boards with him. I also knew that Bob and his wife Susan had lost their daughter Lisa to a hit-and-run many year before. Next, we talked to the couple who had showed us the Bed and Breakfast advertisement. Steve Buresh has great computer skills, and his wife Wendy is a wiz with finances. The last person we asked was our son, Jeremy.
We held our first meeting in conference room at a motel in Baxter, MN. Judy and I shared with them our vision for SAM and asked them to commit to joining us. They all agreed to help us get SAM up and running. Together we worked on the Articles of Incorporation papers and the Bylaws that would guide our ministry.
Once the paperwork was done a lawyer reviewed the documents and made sure they were in order. He did this work at no cost to us.
And that leads us to our celebration today. After crossing all the t’s and dotting all the I’s we found ourselves at the office of the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office.
It’s been an unbelievable 10-year ride so far. And with God’s help, we plan to see many more years ahead. We’ll share tomorrow some of the absolutely amazing ways that God guided us to the land we are on now and how He provided money to purchase the land.
Until tomorrow, please join us in celebrating God’s rich blessings on Judy and me, and on the 100’s of family members we’ve been able to help over the years. God bless, and remember, we love you guys! Thanks for supporting us. Pat & Judy