Experiencing the Life of a Christian
Paola | Staff
I grew up in a very legalistic and religious church that had good doctrine but the spiritual realities of the Christian life was not talked about often, and especially the spiritual reality of people who find themselves in drugs or prostitution. It is the enemy who has them bound, but we did not talk about this. So when God burdened my heart to start working with these people, I did not know what I was getting into. Simply all I knew was that they needed Christ, but I did not know how deep the destruction of the enemy can be. It is not simply giving them a word, but it is accompanying them in a process of freedom that they can’t get instantly. It’s not that suddenly they are free, but rather it is a process that requires prayer, support, counseling, and time, and I didn’t know what I was going to be confronted with. So, when I arrived to the foundation I came with a lot of Biblical knowledge but I did not know how or which way to apply it practically. When I began to work with the women, I would prepare a devotional for them and it suddenly dawned on me that it is also necessary to pray, and not simply just pray, and say “God thank you for these women, protect them, help them in their situation.” It was a deeper prayer where I would need to stand in the gap for them, where I would need to fight with the enemy and tell him they are free, and in the name of Christ he has nothing to do here.
It was appropriating myself in the authority that God has given me through the Holy Spirit to support the work that He does. He uses us to be a mediator of some form, that is what it tells us in The Word. Jesus is the mediator, He is the one that gives us peace and reconciles us with God. But also, we can help reconcile people with Jesus. We are in some way the medium that God uses. I couldn’t simply tell someone Jesus loves you, or give them a hug and leave the person with all of their baggage, problems, or weak points in their life. But, I started thinking, how I can place myself in their shoes and feel their struggles as if it was my own. And that is something that I prayed to God for when I arrived here, was to allow me to put on their shoes and feel their pain and struggles. In others words, the baggage that they were holding I asked that He would put it on me so that I could understand a little bit of what they were living.
I came to this place having a tranquil childhood and all my Christian life was fine, I had no problems with alcohol, with drugs, with lust, nothing. Yes a sinner, obviously, but not in proportion to having fallen for sins such as alcoholism. Because of this, I didn’t believe I had the authority to speak to them regarding topics that I had not lived through. Why tell someone who has lived so long using drugs, that God can help you come out of this addiction, if I did not live it? How can I talk to them about something I have not experienced? God reminded me that it was not about me, rather it was about what He could do through me. And even if I had not lived through these hardships I could still be a part of it in seeing how He was transforming lives.
I remember one of the reasons why I came to this place was because I told God. “God, I know that my life is so normal and flat, but I want to see miracles.” That’s what I would tell God, that I want to see miracles, to see His power transforming lives. And since I came here, one of the greatest motors that has kept me going is to be able to see the power of God in the lives of other people and be a witness of that.
I remember a verse that says: “The person who is forgiven much loves much” and I have been able to see this in the women. They haven’t been perfect, and many of the women who have finished the program have relapsed, but despite all of that, their love for God is with a lot of passion and that is despite all of their problems. That is what I realized I was missing.
Myra, Michelle, and I complement each other in the way we deal with the women in the program. Myra, is stronger and stricter with them, Michelle is able to understand them a bit more having lived through certain things, and what God has given me is love and tenderness towards them. They see me and I am more calm, more passive, and I want to show the love of God in every act, so that they can see that there is someone that loves them no matter what they have done, their past, their history, regardless of who they are, and that is the love of God, unconditional.
For me that’s why it’s a challenge. Yes, the spiritual and emotional charge that one feels can easily become an excuse to run, because it is very hard. Not having privacy is hard, wanting to rest with the hopes that no one would knock on the door, wanting to go out, but being met suddenly with some of the women who need to talk, and then leaving an hour later than planned just to listen to them. In the human nature, you would just want to leave this place because and cry out “I can’t take it anymore!” But that is the example of Christ, He came to serve and not to be served, He came to give himself completely, so anytime I actually want to run away because it gets hard, I think about Him. Of course I could live a more simple life, relaxed at home with my family, but I would have lost the opportunity to get to know God the way I am knowing Him every day by being here. It’s not easy but He gives the strength, the grace, and the authority to be able resist it all.
I just recently had a dream that brought me back into the realization of why I am here and it was God telling me to wake up because there is a lot that needs to be met, and a lot to be fighting for, so don’t fall asleep.
There is a verse in Isaiah that is my favorite verse, Isaiah 41:10, “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Another verse in Isaiah 61 that says “He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken, announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners. God sent me to announce the year of his grace.” This is what we came to do, so I think that I could leave and have a relaxed life but that’s not what I was created for, I was created with the purpose of doing what Jesus commanded me to do. I have to consistently remind myself and repeat, I am here because of Him, and I am here for Him, I don’t need the recognition, nor the acceptance of man. That part has been difficult because I would like them to know, or I would like to be able to explain what I do.
I never imagined the spiritual oppression that I would feel working with these women. Once again, you can see the exterior, but you don’t see the interior, the inner struggles that they are battling with. When you are walking life with these women and you see an advance and then 5 steps backwards, one can begin to think, what am I doing? Where has all the effort gone, all the prayers? Many times you won’t see the fruit of your labors as you would like to see it. I am understanding that I may not be able to see the fruit immediately, but I was part of the sowing and others will be able to see it even if it comes 10-25 years after. And my role is to continue to sow more seeds.