Julie Gerhardt quietly floated in and out of the pews at Redeemer for more than three years. She was a freelance musician, so gigs kept her on the road a lot. Truth be told, though Julie’s life was very full and busy she was actually very lonely and blue. She was single and had come to a point in her life that she wasn’t sure she’d ever find a partner to share life with. Redeemer fed her in many ways, but with her sporadic attendance, it was hard for her to make deep connections with people. Julie had faith that if she’d just keep showing up eventually those relationships would come.
One week she noticed an announcement in the bulletin for the Women’s Retreat and felt this could be a fun opportunity for her to make some new friends at Redeemer. Julie blocked the weekend on her calendar and signed up. The first night included some “getting to know you time” so Julie began to put names with faces of those she had seen at church. Everyone brought their own beverages and, taking a chance, Julie asked a couple of people to play Euchre with her. Needing a fourth, she approached Joy Christensen with the line, “Wanna play Euchre? I have Bourbon!” Joy couldn’t remember how to play, but the Bourbon was offer enough. Julie and Joy instantly hit it off. In conversation they realized that Julie was the youngest in the room and Joy was the oldest. They were the most unlikely two to connect, but clearly God had different plans.
I really believe that if I had not met Joy, I would have disengaged and moved on. She changed the trajectory of my life.– Julie Gerhardt
Julie and Joy became fast friends. They kept up with each other. Julie checked in on Joy after she had rotator cuff surgery. When Joy’s vision began to fail, Julie would drive her to church. Joy shared stories of her late husband, her time in the peace corps, and classroom adventures teaching high school English. Julie shared her dreams of finding true love and sharing her musical talents in meaningful new ways. Joy became a true mentor and confidant to Julie during a hard, turbulent time in her life. Julie was a treasured friend and support system to Joy as she outlived most of her family and friends. They learned from each other, prayed for each other, and enriched each other’s lives.
It’s a wonderful story of how God connects people together for his purpose. Julie and Joy were both lonely and they needed each other, but the six decades between them made it unlikely they’d connect themselves. We all tend to walk into a room and draw to the people most like us, but this intergenerational friendship proves amazing new relationships can be discovered if we will draw to new people in the room. Julie shares, “I really believe that if I had not met Joy, I would have disengaged and moved on. She changed the trajectory of my life. She taught me that life should be about the people. It shifted my lens.” Today, Julie is engaged to be married to her fiancé Courtney, a new stepmom to two beautiful children, and continues to seek God’s purpose in her work. Unfortunately, Joy passed away this last year, but Julie is excited to learn about Redeemer’s new Keystone Ministry that will open new opportunities for more intergenerational friendships for everyone at Redeemer.