The Ripple Effect of Living Loved By Kim McGovern

by | Feb 9, 2023 | The Love Offering Guest Blog Series

“For Christ’s love compels us because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.” (2 Corinthians 5:14 NIV)


So you want to impact the world for Jesus—but your life feels more like a trainwreck than a billboard for God’s love. I used to feel this way, too, until one young girl changed everything.


Her name was Leilani, Hawaiian for a heavenly garland of flowers. I felt an immediate connection with her bright spirit. As a teen mom, she knew what it was to be wrecked by rejection and cast out by the callous. Yet she also understood the joy of being loved by Jesus without limit.


I first met Leilani when she invited herself to a Bible Study in my home. You heard that right. She invited herself and arrived with a well-marked Bible, eager to learn. On her way out the door, she whispered, “I want to be like you.” Startled, I asked her what she meant. “When I grow up, I want to tell others about Jesus.” But growing up would not be part of her story—she would not reach eighteen. 


Leilani’s unexpected departure from our little community sent waves of witness to all in her sphere. Her classmates, who attended a last-chance high school for students with behavioral problems, felt her impact too. 


The students, banded together as a family of misfits, had taken on the role of co-caregivers and keepers of each others’ souls. Where few would dare enter, Jesus made Himself known in the form of a small local church. They sought out this crew and loved them well. In their care, Leilani found freedom in Jesus and embraced her belovedness. Her smile was all the testimony one needed. Like the delicate love-laced lei that was her name, it wrapped around the hearts of all privileged enough to encounter her, even her fellow students. 


What was it that made her so impactful?


Well, for one, she couldn’t help herself. She found the love of Jesus simply irresistible. 2 Corinthians 5:14 puts it this way, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.” Her influence came not from her growing up or getting life right; it came from one thing alone -—Leilani was convinced Jesus deeply and irrevocably loved her.


She invited others to partake in her discovery and welcomed them into the fold, just as they were. She never focused on whether she was enough for the task. She was, instead, enveloped by the One who was her enough—Jesus. And living loved, she left a light-filled trail of grace in her wake, even after she was gone. 


At the beginning of 2020, a few months after we met, Leilani tragically lost her life in a car accident. Nearly 100 of her motley crew gathered in an off-limits lakeside park after curfew to mourn her loss and honor her influence. One after another, they took to the microphone to share how Leilani had encouraged them to accept God’s love for themselves.


A fisherman casting his line into the park’s moonlit lake that night thought he was witnessing a worship service, not a memorial. I think he got it right, and Leilani got her wish— to tell others about Jesus. Leilani’s life and death whispered the name of Jesus to all who would listen.


We can take courage from Leilani for our walk of witness, knowing it is not our goodness or maturity but holy belovedness that creates impact. No special status is required to share God’s love with others. God can use even our most difficult trials as testimony when we live rooted in His unfailing love.



About the Author:

Kim is passionate about helping fellow believers reorient their hearts to the uninterruptible love of Jesus as they live out their call to love in a weary world. You’ll find her writing regularly on her blog Instagram, Facebook, or at Connections Bible Study, where she leads small group Bible studies, online and in-person.


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I’m Rachael Adams

I’m an author, speaker, and host of The Love Offering Podcast. My mission is to help women find significance and purpose throught Christ.

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