How the ‘wrong’ person’s yes led to successful community ministry

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Sometimes the results of resting produce more than being productive.

Jenny Waltman, CEO/founder and director of the board of Grace Klein Community in Hoover, president of Grace Klein Construction and an author, learned this when she took six weeks out of her busy life to rest at a partner missions base in Africa. She spent the first three weeks “reading multiple books a day and hanging out with Jesus.”

Photo by Tracy Riggs/The Alabama Baptist
Her new book, “God Chose the Wrong Person: Surrendering to His Plan, Not Mine,” flowed from that rest.

“God gave the download, and I wrote the book in three weeks. It was amazing,” Waltman recalled. “My colleague, our director of development, was with me for a portion of the time, and she said it sounded like a symphony as the computer keys made ‘music.’

“As I prayed, each chapter would come to me. God does choose all the wrong people. If you read through the Bible, all the wrong people were chosen by God so He could make them the right people — so He would get the glory.”

Variety of roles

Waltman considers herself one of those “wrong people” for almost every role she’s had in life.

  • She became a fire claims adjuster, a job that required more physical strength than her size and stature suggested.
  • She never felt comfortable around kids but had two.
  • She became a bookkeeper when math was her worst subject.
  • She started a construction company, making her mark in a traditionally male-dominated field.

Then she saw a need to feed hungry people.

As that ministry grew, a friend suggested she file the paperwork to make it a nonprofit. She had no idea how to start or run a nonprofit.

But she knew God did.

In 2021 the ministry rescued more than 1 million pounds of food to provide 150,000-plus food boxes and 885,000-plus meals to the hungry. Grace Klein Community was included on the sustainability team for the World Games, held in Birmingham July 7–17.

“That wouldn’t have ever been on my radar,” Waltman admitted. “I would have said, ‘I couldn’t do that!’ But the ‘yes’ of obedience stacks and so you look back and turn around and realize, ‘Oh, that’s my life!’ All those yeses smushed together into something beautiful because I obeyed God.

“Sometimes if He showed us what was going to happen in 20 years, we would think that we couldn’t do it. But that’s the point. We can’t,” Waltman declared. “All God needs is today’s ‘Yes’ and He will do the rest.”

Encouraging others

“God Chose the Wrong Person” contains biblical principles and how Waltman strives to live them. Candid about her struggles and times she knew she was the “wrong person,” she writes about how God showed His glory through transforming her into the right person.

One of her main goals is to encourage others who feel inadequate.

“It’s okay to feel like the wrong person,” Waltman asserted. “It’s scary and dangerous if you feel like the right person because then you’re doing it in your strength and your capacity and what you can do.

“God’s capacity is so much bigger, so much grander, with so much more adventure — because we only see like a little tiny box of what we think we can accomplish in our finite selves. But He’s infinite, and He can use us to do things we would never believe we could do until we courageously say ‘yes.’”

Conduit for help

By choosing the “wrong person,” God has taken food that would have been thrown away to feed hungry people. He also has taken rescued flowers and fruit to give to those who need encouragement or as an outreach for volunteers to love their neighbors.

He also created an organization that serves as a “conduit,” Waltman said, by helping those with excess to connect with needs, those with specific gifts and talents connect with services, and a means for those who want to feed the hungry.

“Love does. It acts,” she declared. “At Grace Klein Community we see diverse people working together and living an ‘others first’ lifestyle. When hundreds spend their free time rescuing food through FeedBHM, our food rescue initiative, or building food boxes and praying with every person who comes through our drive thru locations, there is no way to not feel love.”

Waltman said writing “God Chose the Wrong Person” wasn’t simply to encourage others — she also has learned from it.

“I am in over my head and way past my own strength or capacity,” she acknowledged. “Every day before I get out of bed, I pray and beg God to give me His strength as I’m an introvert in a world full of people. It’s not about me.

“I’m so thankful that He would allow me to write that book and to hopefully encourage one person or a hundred to find the craziness, the beauty and the ‘hurts so good’ of saying ‘Yes’ to Jesus.”