Melissa Hendges joined the GRACE community in 2005 when her oldest child started kindergarten. She joined the staff in 2008 and since then, every visitor to the lower campus has been buzzed in and greeted by Melissa. Melissa was delighted when this job became available as it allowed her to be on the same schedule as her kids and stay involved in their school lives. She shares that God made it very clear to her that she was supposed to be at GRACE and He has made it clear recently that she is supposed to stay, at least for a while! Melissa loves her job as it gives her the opportunity to meet so many GRACE families. She shares that in her role, she tries hard to shine the light of Jesus to all who come through our doors.
Melissa is not only a North Carolina native, she is a Wake County native! She grew up in Apex, graduated from Apex High School, and attended Salem Baptist Church for over 35 years. Melissa’s only brother is the pastor at Kennebec Baptist Church in Angier and this is where she now attends and serves in youth ministry. Melissa teachers the girls high school Sunday School class and has hosted an in-home Bible study with them as well. Her prayer is that she can be an adult in their lives that they feel comfortable talking with and someone who can encourage them to grow in their faith in Christ.
Melissa met her first husband, Greg Douglas, at Salem Baptist and when he passed at a young age, Psalm 139:16 is a verse that brought her peace, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” She shares that this verse reminded her that God was not surprised by Greg’s death and that there was nothing she or the doctors could have done to change the timing. Melissa is now married to Kevin Hendges (who she met at Kennebec) and their four children, ranging from 6th-12th grade, all attend GRACE.
When asked to share memories of her childhood, Melissa was quick to name her grandparents’ farm in Elizabeth City. She states, “It wasn’t my favorite place to be when I was a teenager, but when I was young I loved being able to play with the chickens and see the cows and pigs.” More than the farm animals though, Melissa loved the time she spent with her grandmother and describes her as an “amazing woman.” Melissa remembers many times seeing her kneeling by the sofa or her bed in prayer and is thankful to have been brought up in a Christian home and to have had two sets of very godly grandparents. As an adult, Melissa sought out her grandmother for advice, knowing that she would listen and give godly counsel.
When asked how she spends her time outside of GRACE, Melissa was quick to name sewing and running. She has had a sewing business since 2003, which started more by accident than anything. She had decided to make some home décor items for her home when she couldn’t find what she liked in the stores. Then, several of her friends asked her to make items for them. After doing this a few times, one of her friends encouraged Melissa to start her own business. At the time, Melissa was a stay-at-home mom and it was a perfect way for her to help with the family finances. She attended a week-long school to learn the “industry standard” for home décor products and she has been sewing professionally since then. Melissa loves being able to help people make their vision for their homes a reality and gives God all the glory for gifting her with this talent.
In her own middle and high school years, Melissa was passionate about the performing arts not athletics and was much more likely to be found on a stage than on the track. About six years ago she was walking for exercise, decided that the walking wasn’t quite enough of a work out, and started to jog. She decided that jogging wasn’t so bad and began to extend her time and distance. The day she jogged 6.7 miles, she decided to train for a half marathon! Her first half marathon was not a great experience, but she describes her second half marathon as “amazing.” Always one to progress to the next level, training for a marathon became her next goal and crossing the finish line after her first marathon was a huge accomplishment! A GRACE colleague gave her a book about the Boston Marathon and after finishing the book, Melissa had her next goal in sight. For 16 weeks, she ran 13-20+ miles every Saturday, and woke up at 4:30am four times a week so she could train before coming to work at GRACE.
At the 2016 Myrtle Beach Marathon, she crossed the finish line in just under 3 hours and 52 minutes which allowed her to qualify for the Boston Marathon. She shares that running in the Boston Marathon was one of the most gratifying things she has ever done and also the hardest she has ever worked to meet a goal.