Today it’s my privilege to interview a true “force” to be reckoned with… Jinny Force — wife of our district youth director, Al Force. Get to know this beautiful woman of God…
Deanna: Where were you born?
Jinny: I was born on MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. So, yes, I’m a native Floridian!
Deanna: And where did you grow up?
Jinny: Because my parents were military brats, they were nomadic in my younger years. I lived in Bentonville, Arkansas (home of Wal-Mart), Crossville and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Madeira Beach, Palm Beach Shores, and Palm Coast, Florida. My pre-teen and teen years were spent in, where I consider home, Ormond Beach.
Deanna: What was your family like, growing up?
Jinny: My family was the all-American family. Dad worked seven days a week; Mom worked 5. We had a lot, but something was missing. Just before I entered first grade, my dad’s new job took us to Crossville, Tennessee, and his new boss, who was a pastor of a church in his spare time. Dad felt obligated to go to the church because he worked for Pastor Bowen. My parents gave their lives to Jesus and never looked back, getting filled with the Holy Spirit, and making church a priority for our family. My dad loved being a Royal Ranger commander, and Mom led Missionettes (Girls Ministries). Our lives changed drastically from my parent’s encounter with God.
Deanna: When did you say “YES” to Jesus? How did you come to know Him?
Jinny: Growing up in church, I went to the altar a few times, but I truly didn’t experience God for myself until I was 17 years old. I was one of those crazy church kids, passing notes on the back pew, and driving the youth pastor crazy. Before I knew it, I was tangled up in sin and involved in destructive life patterns. I was desperate for something, and I found that through the ministry of Teen Challenge. I said “Yes” to Jesus, not really sure I was ready, but He began a miraculous work in me. Jesus loved me at a time in my life when I felt unlovable. Through the ministry of Teen Challenge, I was discipled and taught God’s Word. I remember the day God filled me with His Holy Spirit, and I spoke in tongues for the first time. We were invited to Missionettes Retreat at Masterpiece Gardens, and I went to the altar so hungry for God. He filled me with His explosive power! I never looked back. This experience with God is a huge reason why I am passionate about PFYouth Camp at Masterpiece Gardens every summer. Our students need God’s power at work in them to reach their world for Christ.
Deanna: Did you always feel that you would be a minister’s wife?
Jinny: I saw myself single, ministering to orphans on the mission field. When Al and I fell in love, I was sure to tell him I was going to Southeastern the next fall to study world missions. For some reason, he changed his plans to go to Southeastern, too (wink, wink). I often pray about the dream I had as a young woman for foreign missions, and God has promised me that a dream delayed is not a dream denied. I love the fact that our work with PFYouth includes missions through AIM trips and Speed the Light. I know God doesn’t give dreams to snatch them away. In the Bible, Joseph had a dream given to him from the Lord. However, life took him to places where it seemed he was moving farther away from his dream with every step. In reality, each step was a part of God’s elaborate plan to bring salvation to His chosen people through Joseph’s dream. If God had revealed to Joseph His entire plan, step by step, Joseph may have walked away from it. As I obey God, following Him wherever He leads, my dreams will become reality in a greater way than I could have ever made it happen on my own.
Deanna: How did you meet Al?
Jinny: After Teen Challenge, I returned to my home church and was that person who was at the church every time the doors were open. My pastor and youth pastor gave me incredible opportunities to grow in the Lord. One of those opportunities was a Sunday School class I taught for 4 year olds. The class had 4-6 children in it, but grew quickly to 20-30 kids. Al had just recently given his life to Jesus. He lived in my neighborhood, and gave me a ride to church occasionally. He joined in to help me with the 4 year olds class. Before we knew it, the sparks were flying! At Thanksgiving time, the church held a banquet for Sunday School teachers. My dad suggested I ask Al to go with me to the banquet since he was helping me in the class. I told my dad that I wasn’t the kind of girl who asked guys out…guys asked me. I asked anyway!
Deanna: Can you share with us a bit about your dating and engagement?
Jinny: Al and I were engaged within 3 months of dating and were engaged for a year. In the beginning of our engagement, we were both headed to Southeastern to seek the Lord’s will for ministry. We were each packed up and ready to go. The day before we were scheduled to move into the dorms, I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to pray about our future. As I prayed, I knew God was telling me to stay home, get a job, and work for the year. This didn’t make me happy…I had plans…I was called to ministry just as much as Al was! My father had suffered a severe heart attack, and was in very poor health. Financially, he was unable to help with my tuition. My plan was to take out loans for everything. As I prayed that day, I knew this was no way to start a marriage. God was showing me that–together–Al and I were going to make an impact for His kingdom in a greater way than we could individually. The next day, Al left for Southeastern, and I started a job with the State Attorney’s office in Daytona Beach. I saved up for our wedding and the beginning of our new life together.
Deanna: And where did you get married?
Jinny: On July 28, 1990, we were married at Calvary Christian Center in Ormond Beach. Our wedding took place in the gym, which then was referred to as the sanctuasium. The wedding was followed by a reception in the fellowship hall where I had to stop my grandmother from adding champagne to the punch fountain.
Deanna: Can you tell us a bit about your children?
Jinny: Our lives have been incredibly blessed with our boys: Al and Jake. After 9 years of marriage, a devastating miscarriage, and 6 ½ years of trying to conceive a child, God performed a miracle. We had been through every fertility test, and the specialist had described the surgery that might have results, but wasn’t covered under insurance. With no promise it would work and the financial limitations of a youth pastor’s salary, we were very discouraged. We went on a missions trip to El Salvador, working with local doctors in a medical clinic. They asked to pray for me. Seven weeks after returning home, I felt horrible. My best friend told me that was how she felt when she found she was pregnant. I took a pregnancy test and cried with joy at the positive result. God is so good! Our sons love being PK’s and both feel God has called them to ministry.
Deanna: Where have you and Al served in ministry together?
Jinny: We were youth pastors at Jacksonville Oceanway Assembly of God for 10 years, 1993-2003 with Pastor Danny and VonNell Baggett. The Baggetts were fundamental in training us for ministry. They took a chance on a really young, really inexperienced youth ministry couple. We learned so much through the ups and downs of those first 10 years. In 2003, God spoke very clearly to me and Al, separately, during a church service that we were to move back to our home town and serve in our home church. So we moved home to Ormond Beach and became Pastor Jim and Dawn Raley’s youth pastors. It was wonderful being home, working with people we had such history with. Of course, the Raleys’ passion for serving God and people is still a constant source of inspiration for us. In 2010, we moved to Lakeland to work for Pastor Terry and Athena Raburn at the district office as District Youth Directors. We absolutely love working with the Raburns and the district staff, who are all some of the most servant-hearted, kingdom-minded people we’ve had the privilege of knowing.
Deanna: What is the thing you like best about serving the youth of PenFlorida?
Jinny: Al and I live in a perpetual state of joy at what we get to do. We work with pastors, youth pastors and leaders, helping them grow and facilitate student ministry in their churches. We creatively organize and inspire students through life-changing events such as Youth Camp, Fine Arts, Fusion, PK Retreat, Speed the Light, and Bible Quiz. We take students and leaders on foreign missions trips and encourage them to begin giving to missions in their teens through Speed the Light. We also love to build community among youth pastors, leaders, and students, showing them the church is so much bigger than just themselves or their local assembly. Every bit of this is so exciting and fun!
Deanna: What was the most surprising thing for you, about being a minister’s wife?
Jinny: The fact that loving people and giving your life to serve them doesn’t mean they’re not going to hurt you. In ministry, if we’re doing it right, we make ourselves vulnerable to being hurt. We have to learn to place all those hurts at the feet of Jesus and keep going, shrugging off disappointment, hurt, and unmet expectations. When we keep moving forward and don’t allow hurt to root itself in our spirits, we walk the walk of Jesus and share in His glory.
Deanna: If you could give just one piece of advice to a brand new minister’s wife, what would it be?
Jinny: Be yourself. God made you in His image for a unique purpose. He creatively and purposefully gave you gifts and insight that are specific to you. Never doubt the power of your uniqueness. Don’t try to imitate and compare yourself to others…it’s a trap that will steal your joy and cause you to never quite measure up.
Also, just love Jesus! Make loving God your priority and everything else just falls into place. Don’t pursue ministry like its a career…let Him open doors that no man can shut.
Deanna: What would you say are your greatest passions in life?
Jinny: Loving God and loving my family.
Deanna: What do you like to do for fun?
Jinny: I love cooking and entertaining people. I can throw a dinner party together in a couple hours, but sometimes I spend days planning them. I love decorating my home, too. I’m a serious shopper–I may get lost driving somewhere, but I know my way around every great mall in Florida.
Deanna: Favorite vacation spot?
Jinny: Because our schedule is so crazy, we are prone to mini vacays of 3-4 days. Our fallbacks are the Sarasota area beaches, Orlando theme parks and St. Augustine. We go to those places multiple times a year.
Deanna: Favorite clothing store?
Jinny: H&M is our one stop. They have something for everyone in the family, the fashions are the latest, and it’s cheap.
Deanna: Favorite home store?
Jinny: As we travel through the state, I go to every Home Goods and West Elm I can find.
Deanna: What is your favorite color?
Jinny: Aqua…every true Floridian’s favorite.
Deanna: What is your favorite food?
Jinny: The truth is, I like everything…UGH. And, I have coffee running through my veins.
Deanna: What is your favorite TV shows?
Jinny: HGTV is my go-to.
Deanna: Reality TV shows…love them or hate them?
Jinny: I like Duck Dynasty but really dislike shows where they have to bleep out every other word.
Deanna: Favorite movies?
Jinny: Right now, my favorite is The Book Thief. I will NEVER change the channel if Pride and Prejudice is on. I love period and historical films with a passion.
Deanna: What genre of music do you listen to?
Jinny: Mostly praise and worship, but in youth ministry you have to have a serious love of hip hop.
Deanna: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us today?
Jinny: I want to encourage everyone out there to remember that life is too short for us to major in the minors. We have to evaluate our lives on a regular basis and discover what we are majoring in. Make sure you’re putting first what’s most important. If we live for the unimportant, we’re wasting our time. Money and ego are minor in the sphere of eternity. Leaving a legacy of loving Jesus and sharing His love with others is major!