Jenny working with Imani Collective participants.

By Dr. Jenny Nuccio

In our walks of faith, we may grapple with the balance of exercising our free will while discerning the path God has laid out for us. It’s a delicate dance of surrender and action, of knowing when to step forward in faith or when to patiently wait for God’s timing. The true test lies in our willingness to relinquish control, to recognize when our carefully crafted plans must make room for a higher calling.

My own path didn’t start with a grand vision laid out in front of me. It began with a series of mission trips to Kenya, each leaving a mark on my heart that I couldn’t ignore. In the city of Mombasa, I encountered the raw realities of life the women and children coped with daily. Their resilience in the face of poverty was as moving as it was heartbreaking. I noticed the kids who struggled most—whose laughter could fill the air even in hardship—were often those of single mothers, widows, and the disabled. It became clear that if we were to help the children, we needed to help the women first.

Yet, I never expected to return to Kenya after my first trip, let alone make it my home and raise my family there. God’s plan was too far in the distance for me to see, but I trusted I was in the right place to prepare for whatever was next. Through nights of prayer and reflection, I felt called to move permanently to Kenya from my home state of Texas. The idea of leaving everything familiar behind was terrifying, to say the least. But amidst the doubt and fear, there was a persistent whisper, gentle yet firm, saying, “Trust me.”

Surrendering to God’s plan meant facing my fears head-on. It was a journey marked by nights of prayer, where my only solace was found in the wisdom of scripture and the support of my newfound community in Mombasa. There were days when the obstacles seemed insurmountable, when my faith wavered, and the vision seemed blurred. So many people said “no,” so many people said “stop.” Doors were closed in my face, and some held back laughter when I shared my audacious goals and spirit. Yet, it was in these moments of doubt and resistance surrendering to God’s will cemented into conviction.

For many months, I kept my “backup plan” in the back of my mind—I could always go back to the U.S. Instead, I chose to listen to that still, small voice urging me to trust in the path He had set before me. Soon, Imani Collective began to take shape. It started as a humble sewing training program; born out of the desire to empower the women I had come to know and love. What started in a tiny room has since blossomed into a community of hundreds of artisans. This transformation was not the result of my efforts alone. It was, and continues to be, a testament to God’s grace at work through the collective strength of women determined to rise.

As I reflect on the path that led me to where I am today, I am reminded that surrendering to God’s will does not mean abandoning our freedom of choice; rather, it is about aligning our decisions with the divine narrative He has authored for our lives. For those of you who feel the gentle stirrings of something more, here is the essence of what has guided me through my own journey of surrender:

Listen for God’s call through prayer and reflection. In the stillness of your heart, away from the noise and haste of daily life, His voice often emerges with clarity. In the silence of early mornings or the quiet of late nights, I have found this dedicated time allows for a deeper communion with the Lord. It’s in these quiet moments of communion I’ve learned to discern the voice of the Divine from my own wishes.

Seek counsel and support from your faith community. We were never meant to walk this journey alone. The body of Christ is designed to function in unity, with each member supporting one another. When I felt called to a path that seemed too tough to follow, the wise words of a mentor, the prayers of a friend, and the collective wisdom of my community held me up. Their perspectives often provided the confirmation I needed or the caution I had not considered.

Take small, faith-filled steps toward your calling. The magnitude of God’s call on our lives can seem overwhelming, but we begin to make a difference by taking one small step at a time. I began with the smallest of actions: teaching a single mother how to thread a needle or sharing a meal with a family in need, each one a humble expression of God’s love. These actions might not have seemed like much at the time, but they were the foundational stones laid on a path God was paving. The journey to fulfilling His plan for your life does not always require a dramatic leap.

To those of you on the brink of discovery, I encourage you to open your heart to what God has in store. It’s in surrender we find our true purpose, and it’s in faith we find the strength to pursue it. Wherever you are, whatever season you are in—whether you are listening or not—He is right there, pursuing you, guiding you, and not giving up on you.

Dr. Jenny Nuccio is the Founder and CEO of Imani Collective, which combines the dual power of a social enterprise with a nonprofit organization to break the cycle of generational poverty in Kenya. Jenny initially founded Imani Collective as a small sewing training program to empower women in the region. Today, Imani Collective exists to empower hundreds of artisans through dignified work, opportunity, and community. Through its associated brands, including Imani + Kids, Selah, and Sukwa, Imani Collective provides high-quality, sustainable, and scalable merchandise ranging from swag to home décor, kids’ toys, and more. Most recently, Jenny published her first book, Let It Be Wild, in which she recounts the exhilarating highs and lows of her journey thus far.