Iris Centre, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Jen grew up in the small east coast city of Saint John, New Brunswick. She was brought up in a home with plenty of opportunity for camping trips and adventures with her family, fostering the love of travel from a very young age. This passion was encouraged even further when Heidi Baker paid a visit to her church in 1998. She was only in Jr. High at the time, but hearing Heidi's stories of the African bush and all God was doing in Mozambique stuck with her in a way she never imagined; her heart was set on Africa.
The opportunity to go finally came in the fall of 2006 when she attended the Holy Given school of missions in Pemba, Mozambique. Her first visit changed her life and her heart for the people in Pemba, where she made life long relationships. Jen returned to Mozambique again 2 years later, and it was then that God began speaking to her about working with human trafficking, and specifically, children in the sex industry. Not knowing when it would be or what it would look like, Jen returned home and began researching and learning as much about the issue as possible. The reality of human trafficking was devastating, but the call to be the hands and feet of Jesus - to offer help, shelter, safety and love - pushed her forward, strengthened by God's heart for the poor and broken-hearted.
After 3 years of preparing and waiting for the right timing, the opportunity came for Jen and a small team to travel to Cambodia for 5 weeks on a scouting trip in the very beginning stages of Iris Cambodia. She jumped at the chance and a month later was on a plane to Phnom Penh. The vision of Iris Cambodia was everything God had been speaking to her of and preparing her for. In obedience to God, Jen has chosen this direction for this next stage of her life. Now almost a year later, Jen is permanently making the move to Phnom Penh at the beginning of January 2013.
"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, because he has appointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the broken-hearted and to announce that the captives will be released and prisoners will be freed from darkness. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord's favour has come, and with it, the day of God's anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning and praise instead of despair." Isaiah 61:1-3