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Worth It

Issue 4

It was following a Bible study and reading Kisses from Katie, the firsthand account of a young woman who radically said yes to God even when others didn’t think doing so made sense, that Liz Hackler knew she was done with an easy, no-risk Christian life. She had believed in Jesus for a while, but hadn’t fully surrendered and trusted Him with everything.

“I knew only God could do something with me. I don’t have a lot of talent. I begged Him to come and wreck me,” Liz said, wanting God to totally transform her life. “I decided to say yes to any opportunity God sent my way.”

Liz’s husband, Phil, was busy running his business, content with their busy, but great family life that included four children. He had no idea that his life also would soon be disrupted.

Volunteering to walk alongside refugees at Gate of Hope Ministries in West Louisville began with preparing Thanksgiving meals in a box.

Liz met Dr. Pauline Mukeshimana—who started the ministry with her husband, Pastor Jean de Dieu—as well as refugee families trying to find their way in a new country, learn a new language, find jobs, help children with school, and care for their families.

“I met the most vulnerable, traumatized, joyful people I’ve ever known,” she said.


For the next six months, Liz spent Saturdays with Peace, one of those vulnerable people, and her five children. The original plan was to teach English for an hour, but it was never enough.

One Saturday, Peace’s oldest daughter showed Liz her shoes—soles flapping, three sizes too big, zero protection from winter cold or snow. Then, Peace’s second daughter brought in her shoes, a pair she had borrowed from her dad.

Liz told them to get in her car and punched the GPS to the nearest Walmart as the girls wrapped themselves in bedsheets for the ride. Inside the store, Liz instructed the girls to pick out two pairs of shoes—one for school and one for church. She wondered how the bill would fit into her family’s budget.

Forty-five minutes later, they stood in the checkout line with four shoeboxes. Liz noticed the man in ragged clothing behind them. When it was time for her to pay, he approached and said, “I have been told by the Lord to pay for this.” He swiped his credit card and left as Liz and the girls said quick, shocked thank-yous. Liz got in her car and cried. It was an incredible reminder that God has her back in every yes.

Another yes unfolded when Pauline asked Liz to check on Merci and Baraka, two boys from Africa being raised by their 19-year-old brother.


Like many refugees, Baraka and Merci shoulder a hard history. They are two of five siblings born in Congo, a country devastated by civil war. Their mother took them one by one to safety in Uganda while their father worked to support the family. On their last trip, they saw their father murdered. Since settling in Louisville, their mother lives in an assisted living facility.

The family is still dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Liz found the boys remarkably sweet and polite. Both were far behind in school, partly due to the language barrier. Liz, a teacher, asked to help. The more she was with Merci and Baraka, the more Liz knew they needed daily, consistent help and asked if they could stay at her family’s home in Goshen.

Phil knew it was risky, that it would be impossible to send the boys home if it didn’t work out. But the Hackler kids were stoked—especially their only son, Hudson, who was excited to get two brothers—and the worries quickly evaporated.

“If you spend 10 minutes with these boys, you’ll see what a blessing they are. They are so easy, so sweet, so grateful. It’s an honor to have them in our home,” Phil said.  

The risks in saying yes to these boys? Nonexistent.

Living with the Hacklers has given Merci and Baraka a chance to catch up. Both boys are now doing well at North Oldham High School, playing soccer, and being true brothers to the Hackler kids.

“Everyone—from teachers to coaches, to friends, people at church—pour into Merci and Baraka,” Liz said. “They are more a blessing to us than we could ever be to them. This was never a sacrifice. We feel incredibly lucky the Lord chose us to help raise them. We can’t imagine another life now.”

The boys remain connected to their siblings and mother. In fact, the entire Hackler family has grown close to them. “We just made their family bigger!” Liz said.

“When God asks us to take a risk, it’s an honor,” she added. “He doesn’t need us. He allows us to trust Him. Risk is always worth it.”

Phil and Liz aren’t sure about their next yes, but they are sure they won’t hesitate.

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