Stories Of Hope And Redemption
As I sit here, about to attempt to paint a picture for you, I first close my eyes and sigh a weighted sigh. This past week and a half has been a roller-coaster for us—part pure euphoria, part uphill crawling, trying to hold on so we don't fall over the edge. We have felt a mixed bouquet of emotions, some bitter, some sweet, some completely new and foreign.
Let me get out my paintbrush and mix in my palette the colors of our life. Come look over my shoulder and see for yourself..........
A few weeks ago, a young woman came into our clinic, her name is Bernadette, she is eighteen years old. She was bleeding from a deep gash in her head, sustained from falling during a violent epileptic seizure. My husband sutured up the gash, and as he was writing in her chart, she began to talk.... “Doc, is there any medicine you can give me for worrying all the time, for being so sad? Sometimes I want to end it all. See, when I was young I was happy. When I was in fifth grade, I went into a house that was filled with evil spirits. When I left it, I began to have seizures for the first time. Now I have many every week since then.”
Francis listened as she shared her heart. She has been to many “doctors” mostly witchdoctors or self-described healers. One told her that she needed to have sex with many men to cure herself of these seizures. Last year her mother sold her into sex-slavery as a virgin, and continues to sell her to different men, always promising lots of gifts from them, and money to support them.
Now Bernadette works in the Red-light district here in Sabang every night, forced by her mother, who demands at least half the payment that she receives from every “customer”.
Francis began to speak truth to Bernadette that night, telling her that medicine will not fix these problems in her spirit, that these things that people are telling her are lies, and that we know someone who can give her hope and bring healing to her heart.
We realize that there are deep spiritual issues involved, as demonic power is dark and real, and often is evidenced by frequent seizures and physical manifestations. But we also know that no matter how powerful the darkness is, God is even more powerful, and He is passionately pursuing Bernadette.
Since that day, Bernadette has been coming into the clinic nearly every day. She spends each day with us as we feed her, talk with her, and treat her with a love she has never known. She has begun to share her heart and her dreams.
We also began to share with her the beauty that we see in her, and how valuable she is.
I explained to her that every time a man uses her body, the damage done to her is not just physical: STD's, abuse, possible sterilization and a chance she will never have children, but the damage goes deep into her spirit and heart. Every man that uses her and leaves her takes away a piece of her heart, and tears deep wounds into her spirit. She is worth so much more than just a few dollars for her body; she is a treasure that is meant to be protected, cherished, and respected.
Every day I see more and more glimpses of that little girl inside, as she laughs and twirls around, drinking hot chocolate and hugging me every chance she gets. As the daylight fades, and darkness falls, a shadow comes over her face. She quickly eats dinner, and hugs me as I pray over her, before she leaves for “work”. My heart bleeds each night as I watch her disappear, and soon I cannot see her anymore for the tears that fill my eyes, and spill down my cheeks.
I asked her one day what her dream is for her life. She thought for a moment... “I want to finish high school. I never went past grade six. I want to stop this kind of work, and get a good job. Maybe cleaning, or being a store clerk. I don't want to do this anymore.”
And so we prayed. And prayed and prayed and prayed, and then called her mother and asked if we could talk with her. Beverly arrived on the afternoon boat, wary, her eyes narrowed and cautious. She sat down with us as we poured out our hearts of love and concern over Bernadette. We expressed our love for Beverly as well, and explained to her the damage that is being done daily to her daughter, wounds that do not disappear, but burrow deeper and deeper and deeper, breaking her heart a little more each day. I asked if she wanted to help give her daughter a future, one that involved a family, happiness, real life, or if she wanted a life of brokenness for her. Beverly's eyes filled with tears. “I know this pain you talk of. I was also what she is right now. My heart also feels broken.”
I held her hand in mine. “We also want to see healing in your heart.” I said, “God has the power to heal the wounds no matter how long they have been there. He loves you so much.”
She nodded, tears falling. “I don't want her to do this work anymore. I don't want this life for her anymore.” She whispered.
Beverly agreed to let Bernadette stop prostituting herself, and agreed to let us help her finish her high school education so that she can find a good job. The first steps toward a future, stepping off the road of brokenness and destruction. Today we are meeting with a local pastor who brings in teachers to help people like Bernadette finish their high school education for free. We are praying that within the next two weeks, Bernadette will be starting this program, and as she steps out of this darkness, will realize the love of her savior for her.
Every day brings more and more women into our clinic who are trapped in prostitution. The pain is so deep, and their hearts so desperate to know real love.
We are showing our staff how to love these women, how to serve them with compassion, and speak truth into a spirit that has been filled with lies. The Holy Spirit is beginning to stir this place, and I am seeing Him work like never before.
One of the pastors who works with us has been awakened by the Spirit of God in the past few weeks in a new way. We have been praying with he and his wife, that God will make us a light here, fall fresh on us, and bring new life to Sabang. This week we have seen NINE lives come into the kingdom of God, one of them is a tourist from Sweden who just came to go diving, and was changed by the love of God that we pretty much smothered him with, as we shared with him over the past five days!!!!!! In his words, “I have never experienced love like this, and I will never get over it for the rest of my life.” Whew! Praise Jesus for new life, for surrendered hearts, for the beauty of forgiveness, and for the chance to serve Him where the harvest is ripe!
As God works in startling ways, we are seeing the powers of darkness that have been a stronghold here for so long, being stirred up and threatened. France and I are clinging to each other and Jesus like never before, and yet we are feeling our marriage being threatened from every side. Satan would like nothing more than to destroy all that we are, and all that we stand for. But greater is He who is in us. Please continue to pray, to praise, and to be encouraged as we remind you: NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH OUR GOD.
I will leave you for now with a few lines from one of my favorite songs that has constantly been on my lips...”You're the God of this City, You're the King of these people, You're the Lord of this nation. You are. You're the Light in this darkness You're the Hope to the hopeless,You're the Peace to the restless, You are. There is no one like our God... Greater things have yet to come, greater things have yet to be done in this city...”