"All my life my mother trusted God, and she always said that in the end those who obeyed God would be victorious." Anita Carman strolls through a quiet backyard prayer garden in a residential Houston neighborhood. The building behind her is a former residence, converted to headquarters and a spiritual oasis for Inspire Women, the ministry Anita founded to change the lives of women—and by extension the churches and communities—in her city.
"So when my mother gave up hope and took her own life, I wrestled with this: But Mom, you didn't trust him." Anita's story is painful but is also filled with joy, hope, and purpose. "God transformed her story in my life," Anita reflects. And this transformation took root when Anita began studying God's Word and listening to God's leading.
A Mother's Choices
Growing up in China, Anita's mother, Jane, had a difficult life. She was raped at 14, married at 16, and then widowed as a young woman. When she moved to Hong Kong to flee the communist regime, Jane had to leave her seven-year-old son behind. She planned to bring him to Hong Kong, but China's borders were soon closed. Jane didn't see her son again until he was 19.
Jane made a new life for herself in Hong Kong, at that time still a British colony. She married and had two daughters: Anita and Rosita. But the pain from her past never left her and, eventually, she felt she had nothing left to live for. Tragically, Jane decided to take her own life.
Anita was 17 when her mother committed suicide—and her death left a painful legacy in Anita's life. But as Anita grieved her mother's death and hopelessness, she also gained a strong sense of focus and calling. Instead of "a family legacy of quitting," she chose differently: "Where my mother failed to trust God, I will pick up that baton and keep going," Anita says. "And in understanding my mother's story, I found my own."
A Life-Changing Bible Study
Anita came to the United States at 18 to attend Mississippi University for Women. She was emotionally crippled by her mother's suicide and pushed herself to "do something" with her life, so as not to waste her mother's dreams. She completed her bachelor's degree in two years, then pursued an MBA. After graduating, Anita entered the business world in management consulting. She got married, and in 1985, her husband's job brought the couple to Houston where she got busy raising two sons and carried on with the life that kept her from facing her internal emptiness. On the outside, she looked successful, as though she had everything going for her. On the inside, however, she was papering over the sadness from her mother's abandonment and lost hope.