HUDSON — Exactly what Donna Hagan will share when she speaks to the Women's Delight group at House of Faith at 10 a.m. today is something even she doesn't know for sure. Whether speaking one-on-one or before a group, Hagan prays for direction.
"Everyone has a testimony that is multifaceted," Hagan said. "I really wait for God to help me discern in my heart what to share and what not to share in that moment."
Hagan, 56, has a lifetime of experiences to share. The women will hear about some of them.
"Basically what I'm going to speak about is how God guides us," Hagan said. "He never takes trouble and heartache away from us, but he guides us through our fires in life. I'll share the miraculous story of my life and how I've been changed by the life-giving power of Jesus Christ."
Though the specifics are yet to be determined, Hagan will likely include in her talk her experience giving birth to Katie, who was born with a rare degenerative birth defect (Mondini malformation and Meniere's disease) and share what it was like watching her daughter grow up hindered by hearing loss and with a sense of imbalance that kept her bedridden for weeks at a time.
"My heart was breaking as a mom," Hagan said of that time, noting that her daughter's teenage years were especially difficult. "I cried, but I believed God would make a way where there seemed to be no way."
Hagan's faith was rewarded, she said, in 2006 when Katie was in high school and was able to have a labyrinthectomy and receive a cochlear implant.
"She can talk to me on the phone now," Hagan says of the daughter who is now 26 and married with a child of her own. "She's doing things in her life that I never thought would be possible. But somehow, I never gave up hope. God has blessed us beyond measure."
Hagan first spoke at House of Faith in January, when she and her husband, an ordained associate pastor at Christian Center Church in Homosassa, spoke as a team on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.
"(Donna) and her husband, Pastor Walter Hagan, have served their communities in numerous ministries and capacities over the years," said the Rev. Pat Pickens, who will host the women's event. "Because of Donna's involvement in counseling families, and due to her personal experiences, we feel that she can be very encouraging to the ladies of the area."
Helping people is what the Hagans do, including working in a lay ministry capacity in Maryland before they moved to Florida in 1998. They have spent the last 30 years in ministry, working closely with people who face difficulties. They share their hope and teach people how to use biblical principles to improve their lives.
They do it all for free.
"We invest our time," said Hagan, who works full time in the financial industry. "We love people and we love to see them have success in their lives as a family, in their marriages, with their children and in relationships."
Past areas of ministry include ministering to inmates through Bill Glass Ministries. Walter Hagan currently works with young men through Eckerd Youth Alternatives. Both Hagans have participated in the Christian Motorcyclist Association, helping to form the first Citrus County chapter, where they still maintain their membership. For several years, Walter Hagan served the chapter as chaplain.
The sanctity of human life is a subject that is near and dear to the couple's hearts. Walter works as the director of development for A New Generation, a pregnancy and family resource center operating at two locations in Hernando County. Donna serves there in a volunteer capacity on Thursdays.
"All the services at A New Generation are offered free of charge," she said. "We invest our lives into their lives and come alongside of them during difficult times."
Donna Hagan teaches parenting skills and assists mothers and fathers with the program, which allows them to earn "mommy and daddy dollars." The dollars are used to purchase supplies for their children in the center's store.
Hagan pointed out that she is not a licensed counselor, but rather a life coach or mentor.
"I am like a mom or friend or sister," she said. "I come alongside people in that capacity."
Referrals to the center are sometimes made by the Hernando County Health Department. Hagan also works with referrals from the justice system.
"I work with clients that have been court-ordered to the center for different reasons — parenting classes or anger management or whatever," Hagan said. Those clients arrive through Florida Integrity Training, a state-approved program. She has worked with clients who come from the Florida Department of Children and Families, too.
Hagan also uses a program called Shame Free Parenting.
Both courses are designed to help people break the bonds of dysfunctional living that are handed down from previous generations.
"When the court system orders people to take a class, they have the choice to go somewhere else or come to us," Hagan said. "If they choose to come to us, they come knowing we are faith-based."
Another area of ministry for the Hagans is teaching an eight-week class, based on a curriculum they have written, called Relationships 101.
Many referrals come from pastors in Citrus, Hernando and Pasco counties; others respond to a brochure the couple makes available.
"We have people that we meet along life's way that we invite to participate," Hagan said.
Many do. Their most recent class had 10 couples.
"When we finished, a young man came up and hugged my husband and said, 'You will not ever understand the impact that you've had on my life,' " Hagan said. "He was very thankful because he had a lot of questions and had been confused. What we do is try to bring clarity to people based on what God's word teaches them. We help whenever the need arises. We just do it because it's what we are called to do."