Achieving Rest

Volunteer takes part in the Great Commission after finding all her needs in the Jesus.

“Mom colored me to be an achiever.”

Sue Kroeger, the Associate Communications Specialist for the IFI National team, often reflects on her life before Christ.

“I grew up without much knowledge about God. My mom did not speak of God and disliked church. I would sometimes go to church with my dad or with a friend.” So with limited encounters with Jesus, Sue continued to live her life focused on achieving her goals and the responsibilities of taking care of others. 

As a teenager, she kept busy by babysitting and engaging in as many extracurricular activities as possible. Graduating with a Bachelor’s in Environmental Science, she soon pursued a degree and career in law, initially serving as an Assistant Attorney General. This field was competitive and intense. “Having three children, it was very stressful trying to achieve success.” Eventually, she transitioned to working as an inhouse counsel with  the Ohio EPA. “It was more rewarding. I really enjoy it.”

Still, the responsibilities of ensuring  care of her parents during their mental illness episodes, as well as cultivating her work and home life, began to weigh on her.

“My efforts to control my life and my family’s lives were frustrating. I was nagging and having fits of anger at my husband and children. I pushed them to work hard and valued success. My son especially struggled and quietly rebelled by detaching from us. Keith was important to me as their father but less valued as a husband.”

Trying to be in control and achieve success can be overwhelming. Thankfully, that’s when a neighbor comes in handy.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. - Matthew 11:28

Sue’s Christian neighbors reached out to her family and began to develop close and meaningful relationships with them. Through social gatherings and community service initiatives, Sue and her family began to be exposed and enlightened to what living a life founded in Christ was all about. 

“The neighbor shared teachings from his church with my husband, who encouraged me to go with him to church in person. After several months, I saw my Keith and our daughters changing. Then our son. It was a pastor’s teaching from Matthew 5 that encouraged me to act. Jesus taught that God’s standard is perfection. Even hate of someone violates this standard. But Jesus loves us so much he paid for all sins with his death.

Sue came to realize her approach to life wasn’t working so well and she had nothing to lose by praying to Jesus. So she decided to ask Him to forgive her; soon she felt overwhelming peace and release from her anger. She even got a new vision for her life:

“Psalm 46:10 says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’ That tells me, ‘Chill Sue. Stop trying to strive.”

While she and her family continued their growth as believers, Sue and her husband began regular volunteers with IFI after learning about it from a friend at church. They soon began assisting Mike Burt at his Bible Study on Friday evenings, later developing programs for children who attended the Bible Study group with their parents. As much as she wanted to help, Sue’s full time job and other responsibilities would leave her feeling tired most Fridays. Over time, God grew Sue’s faith for enough stamina. 

“I knew this was so rewarding and I wanted to do it. So ‘God, would you give me energy?’ And by gosh He did! I would pray out loud in the car every Friday night to fight Satan’s lies, and keep me from thinking that I can’t do it or it’s not worthwhile.”

Befriending international students and serving with IFI became so beloved that Sue made plans to retire to volunteer more. She considered her work with the Ohio EPA important but felt drawn to find time to support IFI’s mission. When IFI Communications Director, Ryan Finke invited her to join his team, she felt God was highlighting her next step.  So after 31 years of government service, she began her associate staff role with the National  Communications  team.

“It was hard to leave, but I felt like I was retiring to IFI, instead of away from my career. I have a role in God’s larger mission to reach others in His name.”

Her role as Associate Communication Specialist is an evolving one, allowing the opportunity for her to engage with diverse assignments and experiences. “I’m super grateful for the IFI staff embracing me, nurturing me to a place I can contribute.  I’ve learned a lot.”

The support from IFI, the insights that God continues to show her as she volunteers, and the transformation that Jesus has made in her own life have all affirmed her new found sense of dependence.

“If you do IFI work for long enough, you find out that you can’t do it on your own. The international people that we reach out to, understandably, think differently than we do. So we have to depend on God for love and the ability to understand how to love them and serve them.”