The Imago Christi Community is saddened to announce the passing of Liz Hayden on Wednesday morning, June 26, 2019 in Winter Springs, FL. She is survived by her husband, Steve Jenkins, and her “kitties.” But we rejoice through the tears that she has finally met her Beloved Jesus face to face.
Liz Hayden experienced an epiphany in 1997 when the Lord refocused her life and called her to serve Him. Her heart yearned to enter more fully into the presence of the Holy Trinity and to be a passionate follower of Jesus Christ. She began a journey with others, particularly Christian leaders, who also desired to discover deep relationship with Jesus. Her call was to spiritual formation within the congregation. Liz wanted not only to share her own story of redemption, contemplation, and ministry but was also drawn to spiritual direction. It was the longing of her heart to discover more fully the love of God and His purpose for her in His plan. Following a sabbatical of silence and solitude, she began to consider intercessory and healing prayer, mentoring, teaching, facilitating small groups, and sharing life stories within the faith community.
Liz was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, and attended University of Louisville, she always displayed a southern charm and hospitality. Liz first pursued a career in accounting until she moved to Colorado. In 1997, the Lord refocused her life and she began to explore ministry opportunities. She became a licensed minister in the Disciples of Christ after the completion of a Graduate Certificate in Spiritual Guidance at Denver Seminary. Liz served as a Chaplain Intern, created a pastoral care ministry, formed a spiritual direction practice, and mentored Denver seminary students. In 2007, she was involved in the formation of Rocky Mountain Spiritual Formation Partners with Tom Ashbrook, who was also the founding team leader of Imago Christi. Liz served as coordinator for spiritual directors connected with Denver Seminary and Renovaré, who wanted to meet regularly, for peer supervision and mutual support. In 2011, Liz formally became a Partner with Imago Christi, and relocated to Chicago where she served in the Transformation Conversations and Mentoring program at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, IL. In 2013, her husband, Steve, accepted a position in Tampa, Florida, before they later moved to Winter Springs. Liz said in her own bio that, “I had the blessed privilege of becoming a full time missionary with CRM [Novo] and a Core team member of Imago Christi in 2014 serving as the treasurer of Imago Christi, as well as, retreating with and coaching church leaders.”
Liz had already been struggling with cancer when Tom Ashbrook met her in 2007. As far as he is aware, she never resorted to chemo therapy, but relied on healing prayer and a naturopathic diet. Tom says, “I saw God use this journey to form a profound faith and compassion for the suffering of others in Liz. She demonstrated an amazing ability to enter into a spiritual direction relationship with others. I heard many reports of transformed lives at the hands of her loving care.” Despite her increasing battle with cancer over the last two years, Liz told us: “I want to continue with my Spiritual Direction and retreat ministry, and honor and serve the Lord with all the energy that I have.” As long as she was able, Liz worked locally with the African Refugee Church Alliance to assist with the transition issues and spiritual needs of immigrants and form a spiritual director’s group for African refugees.
Reflecting on Liz’s journey of faith, Imago Christi team member, Melanie Saint James noted that there were two themes that most typified Liz’s spiritual life:
1. Her deep and abiding love for Jesus, and His unconditional, life transforming love for her. Liz truly believed that she was God’s beloved daughter upon whom His favor had come to rest. In 2017, Liz wrote to the Imago Christi community in one of her journals: “As the Lord chooses to preserve my life for his His work, I am being renewed more and more in my deep abiding relationship with Jesus. The world often has the displaced notion that if we are not happy, God has somehow let us down. But I am learning that true happiness is actually derived out of God’s loving presence in our life. I am also learning that what he really desires is holiness above happiness, faithfulness above entitlement, mildness above grandeur, and constancy above striving. May it be so in my life.”
2. Liz had unwavering trust and hope in the goodness of God, even in the face of great adversity. The last few years of Liz’s life were not easy. She battled an aggressive cancer that eventually killed her, and still she trusted in the goodness of God. In fact, the day Liz learned that the nodule in her lung was actually a tumor, Melanie had the chance to speak with Liz on the phone. Unbeknownst to either of them, this would be their last conversation before she died. “My body may be weak, she said, “but my spirit is strong. God will take care of me. I’m going to be ok.”
Liz spent her last week in a hospice facility surrounded by faithful friends in her Anglican communion, and in the quietly presence of her beloved husband of 27 years, before meeting her Beloved Savior on Wednesday morning, June 26, 2019. She died, just as she had lived, believing and trusting in Jesus with every fiber of her being.
The Imago Christi Community will miss Liz, her uncompromising love for the Lord, and her faithful commitment to lead others to encounter his life-changing love.
In Memoriam: donations may be sent to: Harmony Life International in Uganda, with which Liz’s “African son” Kenneth Bagonza works:
Give online at: https://harmonylifeinternational.org/
Address in US: Harmony Life International, PO Box 453, Hygiene, CO 80533
WHO: Harmony Life International is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit charitable organization. Founders: Jeff and Anne Dean. (EIN: 81-0753112)
WHAT: As an organization, our desire is to be a light in the darkness by bringing hope, healing and transformation to hurting people. We work alongside those in need, equipping and empowering them with educational and entrepreneurial opportunities. We strive to make basic medical care, secure shelter and clean water accessible to as many people as possible. We also feel it is our calling to love everyone, especially the oppressed, and to share God’s message of hope in whatever way He leads.
WHERE: Our work is focused around the areas of Fort Portal and Kampala, Uganda, East Africa. We also do outreach and fundraising events in the US.