In my last post I told you about the opportunity the Lord had given us to throw a birthday party for a woman from the streets. I want to tell you about the events of this glorious BIRTHday celebration.
When we arrived at the church we saw this woman approaching. She was dressed nicer than we had ever seen her and she had cleaned up. She was apprehensive as she approached, because she had not seen our children since she left our home last year. As she entered the building she immediately began to cry and wail. My children greeted her and gave her a hug, which caused her to cry even harder. For the next half hour or so while we prepared her birthday decorations she laid out on a set of folding chairs and cried uncontrollably.
It was Mike’s turn to present the message of Jesus last night. As he began sharing, Diane sat next to my wife and just wept as my wife held her. She then began to cry out to God asking for His mercy, because she had destroyed her life. She declared her fear of dying and being under the control of her street life any longer.
When Mike began to talk about our response to God’s offer of new life in Christ, she sat straight up and began to follow him with her eyes. She cried out to Mike to come pray with her, to tell her what to do. Mike instructed her to pray what was flowing from her heart. I could see her struggling to speak and I felt prompted to speak against any spiritual force that was trying to prevent her from moving from death into life. In a tear filled cry for help, she began to confess the choices of her life, naming things that were so painful and so personal. She then declared her need for God’s grace and asked Him to take control of her life.
Almost immediately her countenance changed and her tears of pain became tears of joy. She began to speak of the inrush she could feel deep within her and the enormous weight that had just lifted. She then reached into her shirt and pulled out her cigarettes and lighter. She acknowledged the battle would be difficult, but she also knew she needed to make her first change starting now. With that, she handed those things to Mike and asked him to dispose of them.
When everyone had regained their composure, we sang happy birthday and celebrated her life and her NEW life together.
The journey ahead will be difficult for her as she has lived and worked on the street for over 10 years. I believe this will be the first real opportunity for us to put the mission of Simplicity Solutions to the test, as we will need to help her keep her hands busy and her thoughts focused in a life giving direction. We will also have the challenge of trying to find her housing that offers a drug and alcohol recovery program. Discipleship for an individual in her condition has to be holistic, teaching not only the Christian life, but life skills in general.
Here is the other amazing thing about this whole experience. When she walked back into my life on Wednesday, I was meeting with a Vineyard Pastor who leads ministry at an Assembly of God church. He was able to provide clothing for her on the spot, because a woman had given him a stack of woman’s clothing the day before (of course the correct size). The birthday cake, balloons and banner were provided by my friend’s Baptist church that had been challenged 2 weeks ago by an Army chaplain. Of course we were the third piece, cultivating the relationship through our presence in a tough area. This truly was a picture of the body of Christ at work.