Mandy Adkins is a regular person. She is a wife and a mom who loves to read and travel. She is humble and kind and fun. But Mandy Adkins is driven by an extravagant love.
When she was eight years old, Mandy remembers sitting in her church learning about international missions in Africa. In that moment, something inside of her shifted. From that point on, she says, “Whenever people spoke about missions work, especially working in Africa, I lit up.” The light never went out. In fact, as time went by, the little girl in the pew grew into a woman who still lights up at the chance to walk deeply with others during their times of need.
Loving the Broken Globally and Locally
For years, God continued to grow a love in Mandy for the outsiders, the broken and the oppressed. When she went to college, Mandy volunteered for a refugee resettlement agency, forming deep relationships with people from Africa. She was able to put legs on the commands of Jesus to care for the aliens and oppressed in our world, and her life would never be the same. She took an introduction to social work course and, as she says, “from literally the first page of the first chapter I realized it was a field that combined my passions with very practical tools on how to make a difference in peoples’ lives.” Mandy went on to major in social work at Belmont University in Nashville and get her master’s in social work Washington University in St. Louis.
Mandy’s work in her field has taken her all over the world in efforts to meet the physical, emotional and physical needs of others. She worked with the American Red Cross in 2005 right after hurricane Katrina, training and deploying volunteers as well as operating a shelter for evacuees in Maryville, TN. During grad school in St. Louis Mandy worked with St. Louis Effort for AIDS, beginning their outreach and educational programs for older adults. Her eyes were opened to the high rates of HIV/AIDS that exists in older adults, as well as the ageism that exists in America.
Her love and her work have taken her to local high school in Blount County where she and her husband Josh volunteer with Young Life and together walk deeply into the lives of high school kids, full of heartbreak, addiction, loneliness and brokenness. She has worked as the director of both Family Promise of Blount County as well as the Alliance for Youth Achievement (AYA).
All before her 30th birthday. Mandy Adkins is driven by an extravagant love.
Fear Turns to Peace in the Face of Danger
Over and over again the love that rescued Mandy from her own brokenness has led her into the dirty, hard and terrifying of this world at the risk of her own safety and convenience. In her work with AYA in Africa, she was once stranded on the side of the road in a broken-down vehicle where they were told that there were people waiting for the sun to set and the vehicles to break in order to “steal their money and rape their women.”
They were in Kibwezi, Kenya at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro and had stayed too late loving on children in a local orphanage and praying over the land that would eventually house one of their partner homes. On the way home they hit a pothole and were left in a worst-case scenario. Trapped in the vehicle waiting for help, some intimidating men surrounded them carrying heavy metal tools, offering their help for a price.
Fear turned to peace as Mandy and her friends prayed and waited. Help arrived and they made it safely home. But when she looks back on the danger and what could have happened, Mandy would not change a thing. Her time with the children and praying over their new home was worth all of the fear on the side of the rode.
Mandy Adkins is driven by an extravagant love.
For Mandy it was never enough to sit on a pew and hear about the needs of the world. For her, the love that rescued her in her own brokenness would drive her to action on behalf of the undeserved all over the world. She says, “I take literally God’s message throughout the Bible to take care of the least of these and the oppressed. I believe what Jesus said about bringing God’s kingdom here on earth, so that’s a driving force behind my desire to be part of healing the brokenness in people’s lives.”
From the side of the road in Kenya to the lunchroom of a local high school to her living room floor with her son Luke, Mandy Adkins is a regular person who has chosen a life full of extraordinary love.