Episode 40: Karen Nelson

Episode 40: Karen Nelson

Karen is the co-founder and CEO of the ISeeU Trust. Listen as she shares how growing up in Apartheid South Africa led her to long to help marginalised young women succeed in a world that is hostile to their circumstances. Karen's gratitude to the saving grace of God leads her to share her joy in caring for others, whether her own family, the many couples that she and her husband, Hugo, have taken through premarital counselling, or the young women she and her Trust partner, Haley, have mentored over the past few years. 

Karen Nelson is married to Hugo and together they have four children. Karen began her working life as a lawyer and lobbyist. Growing up in a marginalised community within the context of an Apartheid South Africa, Karen was determined to be self-sufficient and she was eager to contribute towards a changing nation. While her work challenged her, it also took her away from home enough to cause her to take pause and ask the tough questions that many mums find themselves facing. With much prayer, wise counsel and evaluation of her family’s own needs, Karen made the difficult choice to set her career aside for the sake of the health of her family. She says that God has used her children to empty, humble, shape and refine her.

Through them, I have seen the hidden places in my heart where I most need God to shine His light.

In time, Karen started to feel more and more burdened for the many young women living in marginalised communities around Cape Town. Her concerns actioned her and fellow founder of the ISeeU Trust, Haley, to begin their non-profit organisation. ISeeU works to up-skill teenage girls and provide them with opportunities to see themselves through the eyes of God: deeply loved by Him, with God-given potential and great value.

Karen finds Genesis 16:13 particularly comforting, especially in the light of the work she does with young women through the ISeeU Trust: “She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.”

Links mentioned in this episode: 

Sound-bites from this episode:

I tend to be a control freak. I want to organise my life to the nth degree. And in that process, I often leave no space for God. It’s become very clear to me over the years that actually the best place for me to be, even in the midst of a storm, is his will for me at that point.

By God’s grace, these girls will become role models in their families, in their communities. And my dream was actually that you’re starting a little revolution in that street, in that little block, in that rundown flat or apartment block with these girls becoming role models.

One of the ways we can support them is just to say that you don’t have to make the perfect decision. You just have to keep moving. And the road is littered with detours. But those detours often are where you learn.

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The Lydia Project: Conversations with Christian Women is a podcast co-hosted by Tori Walker and Taryn Hayes on The Gospel Coalition, Australia website. It features informal chats with Christian women around faith, life, ministry and the ways in which God is shaping their thinking and their lives. The views of our guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the hosts or TGC, Australia. 
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