licensed to About.com
Part of the "People Who Are Making a Difference" series
Before Rest MinistriesCopen, who received her BA in sociology from the University of Oregon, has always had a heart for nonprofits. Even before her health problems developed, she volunteered at crisis centers, abuse shelters and other service organizations. Her career goal was to do marketing and fund development for a nonprofit. After being diagnosed with RA, she chose to do her internship as a volunteer with the Arthritis Foundation.
Unfortunately, it seemed as if Copens career dreams would end before they began. When she tried to go for job interviews, she had difficulty standing up when the interview was over. Once after an interview, she wasnt able to leave the interviewers office because she couldnt grasp the doorknob tight enough to turn it. As her physical condition deteriorated, it became apparent she would not be able to work full-time and follow the career path she had planned.
At one point Copen was physically in such bad shape that she had to spend the better part of a year on the couch. Determined not to let her illnesses keep her down, Copen began praying for a way to do what she loved while working at home. She went to the library and checked out books on writing, nonprofits and fundraising, then began to study.
Seeing the NeedAs she talked to others with chronic illnesses, Copen said I saw the needs of people with all kinds of different illnesses who all struggled with the same issues, who all had those You dont understand feelings. She also noticed that most people with chronic illnesses were looking for answers and often they looked to God for those answers. When a search of several Christian bookstores failed to turn up a single book about chronic illness, Copen clearly saw a need that wasnt being met.
How Rest Ministries BeganCopen knew quite a few chronically ill people across the country who shared the need for Christian support and encouragement but werent able to get together, so she put together a newsletter that was copied and mailed to them. Soon checks from newsletter recipients began arriving to help cover the cost. As requests for the newsletter grew, the copying and mailing tasks became more cumbersome and time-consuming.
Copen then decided it was time to utilize the Internet to reach more people. So she invested in a computer and learned web design to set up a simple website. Today 50,000 people a month visit the Rest Ministries website, 12,000 receive monthly e-mails and 5,000 get a daily devotional via e-mail.
About Rest MinistriesRest Ministries, Inc., founded in 1997, is an all-volunteer nonprofit serving people living with chronic illness or pain and their families by providing spiritual, emotional, relational and practical support. They are also working to bring awareness to churches and teach them effective tools for ministering to the chronically ill population. Rest Ministries services include:
- Website www.restministries.org,
- HopeKeepers quarterly full-color magazine
- HopeKeeper Groups Bible study/support groups
Lisa Copen, AuthorIn addition to her work on the website, the magazine and with the HopeKeepers groups, Copen has also managed to write several books, including:
- Mosaic Moments: Devotionals for the Chronically Ill
- Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend
- Why Cant I Make People Understand? Discovering the Validation Those With Chronic Illness Seek and Why