From disappointment to a dream: how Alabaster got its start 10 years ago

Betsy StewartBlog

This year marks a decade that Alabaster International has been partnering with you and friends in Kenya to restore hope in forgotten places. So we wanted to share about how it all began.

The name “Alabaster” comes from the ancient story of a woman who is suffering, isolated and forgotten. In the midst of heartbreak, she offers her most treasured possession–an alabaster jar filled with costly perfume, worth a year’s wages–as an act of worship and surrender before Jesus. Her response is incredibly courageous--it isn’t easy to give all we have, especially when we’re in the midst of despair or loss. 

Alabaster's founder Shannon experienced that tension soon after graduating from college. Believing God was calling her to start a medical clinic in a foreign country, she applied to medical school. But 13 rejection letters later, it all felt impossible. In the following months, she lived for a short time in Kenya, and it was there–in the poverty of a slum community, in the deepest disappointment she had ever faced–that a new dream formed. She felt a call to go to forgotten communities in Kenya to offer hope and empower communities. That dream was what we now know as Alabaster International. 

The story of the woman with the Alabaster jar isn't so different from that of our friends in Kenya–people who have been marginalized and yet exhibit strength and resilience. These friends of ours have broken their own costly jars, sacrificing things of great value to preserve that which is most precious. They do this when they walk miles for water or for medical care to sustain their families, stand up for what is right despite the consequences, take a risk on a new business so they can make money to pay school fees for their children and improve their communities.  

The past few years have been marked by loss and uncertainty for so many of us. Maybe especially for you. We invite you to reconsider what can come of such a season. Is there a hidden desire or precious dream that might require you to keep breaking open–an act of surrender and trust–in order for it to be uncovered?

If so, we hope you will say yes.