Leadership Profile: Anne Grizzle, Family Therapist, Social Activist, USA

Q. Tell us about your family.

A. I have been married to my husband, David, for thirty-one years. We met at the Christian fellowship at Harvard College and developed a passion for missions through attending Urbana ’76. We have three sons, two daughters-in-law, and two granddaughters. I have tried to engage each of my sons with missions through a relational experience.


My oldest, Ben, went with me to Amistad Mission in Bolivia, and he eventually brought an Olympic Games experience to an orphanage through an Eagle Scout project. I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with my son, Josh, and a Massai Christian leader; Josh went on to live, teach, and help develop a mission school in Kenya.

My youngest son, Andrew, has gone with me to Guatemala, where we worked with special needs children in a Mayan village. My husband jumped off the corporate American ladder for fourteen months to serve with the State Department in Afghanistan and is now Chief Counsel for the Federal Aviation Administration and serves on the board of International Justice Mission. As a family, we like to challenge and encourage each other in missions, seeing our family as a base camp from which we restock for kingdom purposes.

Q. Give a brief overview of your work and ministry.

A. My professional work has primarily been as a family therapist, where I consider it a great honor to be invited into the suffering stories of those with whom I work. I also serve as a spiritual director and retreat leader in a variety of settings, from church groups to mission organizations to individuals. I am on the board of Leighton Ford Ministries and act as chair of Leighton’s mentoring community, which seeks to train and empower Christian leaders to mentor younger leaders to lead to Jesus, for Jesus, like Jesus.

I also work with Amistad Mission serving abandoned, orphaned children in Bolivia and serve on the board of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. I have tried to engage my American community with the needs around the globe through co-founding Women of Vision (which partners with World Vision) in Houston and Washington, DC.

Q. What is your favorite quote?

A. “As thou art in church or cell, that same frame of mind carry out into the world, into its turmoil and its fitfulness. Deep within us all there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center, a speaking Voice, to which we may continuously return. Eternity is at our hearts, pressing upon our time-torn lives, warming us with intimations of an astounding destiny, calling us home unto itself….Here is the Slumbering Christ, stirring to be awakened, to become the soul we clothe in earthly form and action.” – Thomas Kelly

Q. Who has been the most influential person in your life/ministry, and why?

A. Betsy Inskeep Smylie, an older student at college with me who became an Intervarsity staff worker and eventually an ordained minister. Betsy was down-to-earth, brilliant, and totally in love with Jesus. She was the first woman to letter in riflery at Harvard, baked the best homemade bread you’ve ever eaten, and preached Jesus with abandon.

Evangelism. On Point.

Q. Describe a time in which you shared
your faith in Christ with someone who
didn’t know Him, and then saw God
clearly work in that situation.

A. A few months ago a mother whose
teen son had been kidnapped and brutally
murdered attended a “Strength for the
Journey” retreat and was in my small
group. She was angry at God and had
not been back to church since his murder
four years earlier. By listening to her
wrestling with anger and pain, and
sharing/being the weeping Jesus with
her, she came back to a place of prayer
and hope. Within the next week God
spoke to her in the curious form of a
picture of a lighthouse on her computer
that would not delete. She is moving
forward in faith, with the hope that one
day she will see her son again.

Betsy modeled how to be a Christ follower in the midst of a secular, academic world. She taught me Bible study methods in college and later walked with and prayed for me as a spiritual director. She showed me how to walk the path of suffering and death, while loving Jesus passionately to the end of this life. She is one of the host of witnesses who cheer me on, and she now offers the communion of saints to me from across the thin veil of heaven and earth.

Q. What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

A. In my first meeting with her as a formal spiritual director, Betsy challenged me to take a 24-hour silent retreat with God. I did. It changed my spiritual life forever; silence with God became my deepest well for drinking Jesus’ living water. That source has sustained my soul for almost thirty years.

Q. What one issue do you believe is the greatest barrier or opportunity to evangelism, and why?

A. A barrier I grieve, when I experience it, is insensitive, judgmental, and haughty (rather than compassionate, humble, Christ-like) attitudes of Christians to those different from themselves. The vast sufferings and needs of the world give us opportunities to offer cups of cold water and compassionate care in the name of Jesus. Care and counsel should not be a small segment of work done by a few; rather, it is the way to advance and live out the gospel.

Q. What book do you most often recommend to others to read, and why?

A. The Bible, and parts of scripture for meditation. After that, Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life by Dennis, Sheila Fabricant, and Matthew Linn, which makes the ancient Christian practice of discernment from the Ignacian exercises accessible for modern readers. This is most helpful in discerning God’s direction for your life, staying alert in God, and building community.

Q. What would you like to be doing in ten years?

A. Being spent for God in whatever ways God has for me.

Q. How can people be praying for you?

A. On his deathbed, St. Francis reportedly said, “I have done what is mine to do. Now I pray you will do what is yours to do.” I would like prayers that I would do what is mine to do, for God’s glory.