We knocked and waited in front of the last house of the day. It was almost 4 o’ clock but the sun was still beating down on us with force. A few doors down someone was blasting Spanish music on loudspeakers. According to the translator, the lyrics were: Dad, please don’t hit my mom / you might kill her. The music relayed a sense of the tragedy and desolation of the street we were on. The door finally opened, and the home was inhabited by a middle-aged Puerto Rican woman. Her two adorable! curly-haired grandsons were running around a scantily-furnished living room. They had a gang of small dogs too, including a little black-and-white spotted one that was missing both its front legs. He hopped and hobbled around, and chewed on my fingers when I reached down to pet him.
We started our regular medical screening, and she began to share more and more about her recent medical problems. Things had started to get worse with the new year, and she had lost 5 lbs just this past week. Her distress was written all over her face. She was alone, abandoned by the world, and rejected by everyone she cared about. Story after story about the wounds of her past tumbled out of her mouth. Because of her problems she had attempted suicide twice, and in both occasions she was saved in the nick of time by people who intervened just before it was too late. Everything about her screamed, ‘I have no hope. I have no reason to live.’
I cried with her. I hugged her. I held her hand. It was what Jesus wanted to do for her through me. I told her about how my life fell apart after my dad died, and then how Jesus spoke to me, reached in and touched my heart and changed me from the inside out. Through my story I wanted to affirm that yes, this world is a hopeless place. But there is one (and only one) source of hope in this lifetime, and his name is Jesus! That truth was urgent and heavy on my heart. I prayed under my breath that she would realize that today. Our translator emphatically talked about the transforming power of God for those who would believe in Jesus. He asked her if she would invite Christ into her life with the promise that He would change her from the inside out. It wasn’t to be about emotions, but rather a choice to submit her life to the Lord. She said yes. I cried again when we prayed the sinner’s prayer with her. We laid hands on her and prayed healing over her body.
After the prayer, she looked at peace. She had a seed of hope for the first time in a long time. She was determined to learn English so that she could attend our church. We hugged and smiled and said our goodbyes. As we were walking out, I felt the sudden urge to grab her by the hands. I looked into her eyes and in my broken Spanish said, “Tu eres mi hermana in Dios. Yo te amo en Jesucristo.” [translated: You are my sister in God. I love you in Jesus Christ.”] Her response was appreciative, and she called me her amiga, her friend. Our translator gently corrected her. We’re not just friends, we’re family because we’re all children of God. And just like that, she got it – she had recently “lost” three sisters when she was alienated from her family, but she had just gained three new sisters in Christ.
When we got out onto the street and walked back towards Urban Hope, alas – I cried again. Luke 15:10: “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. Angels were rejoicing in heaven over this woman! The world had forgotten her, but God loved her so much that He sent us there to minister to her in her time of need. It was a profound experience, and I felt so thankful to the Lord for allowing me to see the beauty He worked in our brokenness today.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Christine Chang. © 2023 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org