The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Surrounded by prayer

Mother and son receive 'family' and home when joining local church

The sounds of hammering and sawing have faded away, and Judy Harper sits in relative peace at the kitchen table in her new house—a home built by love and surrounded by prayer.

Only the clicking of Pup’s paws on the hardwood floor and the sounds of TV or music from her son’s room break the silence.

A Habitat for Humanity home wasn’t in Judy’s plans when she, her husband David, and their son Nick moved from central Kentucky to Kingsport, Tenn., in 2001. Being homeless wasn’t in her plans either.

Judy and Nick Harper this summer moved
Judy and Nick Harper this summer moved into their new Habitat for Humanity home built by their congregation, Holy Trinity Lutheran, Kingsport, Tenn. Pictured during the building process are, fromleft, Nick, Jenny Trumbo (family co-sponsor), Judy and Kathy White. Trumbo and White are also members of Holy Trinity.

The past few years haven’t been easy, Harper admitted. But she and Nick have gotten through it with the help of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Kingsport.

Looking back, Harper acknowledges that God has been with her, even when she was homeless. She believes there was a reason her family was the first to enter the Interfaith Hospitality Network via Holy Trinity, which was new to the program. As part of the network, host churches provide shelter, meals and support services a week at a time to families without homes.

“There’s a reason [God] put me there,” she said.

Because she suffers with reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome—a chronic condition characterized by severe and relentless pain—Harper didn’t seek employment after moving to Kingsport. Instead they relied on her husband’s construction job to support them.

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February issue


Embracing diversity