It is the second week of July 2010. Two years ago during this time I was flat on my back in an apartment in New York City taking chemo and waiting for God to fulfill His promise of complete healing for two incurable cancers. Earlier in the year(2008) we had three women come to us for help and we sensed that they were ready to enter the rehab program in the Villa. We were ecstatic to finally begin ministering to the women in a setting that seemed idyllic. The vision to help them find healing and wholeness through the power of Christ was becoming a reality and our whole ministry was abuzz with excitement. But after only a month, all three women independently of one another, chose to return to the city. One woman snuck out quietly leaving her two daughters behind, trusting that we would care for them. The inital excitement and anticipation that permeated the ministry atmosphere was replaced by a sense of failure and bewilderment. What had gone wrong? Why had we failed to help the very women we had so longed to minister to? What was God doing?
A month later I was diagnosed with amyloidosis and multiple myeloma. The whole ministry went into a state of flux. Now it seemed like God's grace that we didn't have the three women and their children in the Villa because Hae Young and Elvia, my closest co-workers in the ministry, would be able to take turns caring for me in NYC. So instead of the three women, we started the rehab center with the two young girls who were left behind and their cousin who had already been involved in prostitution at the tender age of 11.
The healing journey took time. I felt trapped in a body that seemed anything but my own. I begged God to heal me instantly but He had so much He needed to teach me in that time of walking through the valley of the shadow of death. He had so much He needed to teach all of us in that time of learning to trust Him for the impossible. The doctors said there was no hope and that death was imminent. God spoke to us over and over again that He was going to bring forth a complete healing. We chose to believe the Promises of God over the doctor's dictamen. It made all the difference.
The Lord spoke to us not only about healing, but about focusing on the children of the women. He seemed to whisper in our hearts that He was very interested in the next generation. And then He began to bring the children to us one by one until some of our households seemed so full that they would burst from the sheer number of children. It was good to be a part of the restoration of these young lives.....good and very stretching!
But I still longed for the women to come. We made visits to the streets and did all we knew to do but still the Lord seemed to restrain that part of the vision. I couldn't help but feel on some days (like when I was dealing with a little boy's tantrum) that someone had hijacked the vision and put a bunch of children in it's place. I experienced a sense of lostness that I had never before known.......It's hard for me to put it in words, but in those moments when I was alone (which were not exactly frequent in a household of many children), I would feel waves of a sentiment that I can only describe as "feeling adrift". As I cried out to God for anchorage, He led me to a verse that said, "Be Holy as I AM Holy". I knew that the word "holy" meant set apart for the Lord's use but when I looked it up in the Greek dictionary, the translation caught me off guard. It said something like this: forever ruined for ordinary life. Wow.....forever ruined for ordinary life. That made sense to me. Once we have tasted the radical wine of following Jesus all out, we are ruined for the common life. Nothing will fill us as fully as living the life He has called us to live. He began to show me that each and everyday I needed to be living out fully the purposes for which He had made me. The lostness that I was experiencing was because I am ruined now for anything except what He has called me to. Somehow through that revelation of scripture I understood that the call upon my life to minister to women lost in prostitution had not been rescinded....I just needed to wait upon His perfect timing.
We have learned over time that God's timing is often not ours. We might think we are ready for something when truly we are not. God had to get us ready for this next phase of the ministry. We needed to grow in our ability to love unconditionally, to listen more intently to His voice, and to be more dependent upon His Word and His power. We needed to decrease, He needed to increase. Walking through the valley of the shadow of death had produced much needed fruit.
Then the birth pangs began. We got news that the first woman we had met on the streets back in 1998 had come to Christ in January. We had prayed for her and visited her on a weekly basis for over 12 years. Her one and only son had committed suicide at the age of 13 and this event had plunged her into a despair that led her to Jesus. We were so thrilled to hear of her conversion and of the pastora who was discipling her in her neighborhood. I was disappointed that she didn't come to Jericho but oh so thankful that she had finally made a decision to follow Christ.
All of this is just the intro to share the exciting news that we have women in our program again! I have been timid to share this because I often compare the women's first months in the ministry to pregnacy. The first three months are the most tenuous.... and when you have experienced spontaneous abortion, as we have, you are more careful about sharing early on. It's hard enough to go through the disappointment yourself without bringing a whole slew of folks along with you. But I cannot contain the news any longer because we need your prayers. We have three women in the ministry at the Villa between the ages of 16 and 24! God is bringing in the much awaited lost lambs. Sara came to us in late April through one of our teachers. Maribel and Margarita came to us through a dear friend of mine who is a missionary here in Honduras and works with the children of these women being set free from darkness. We rejoice at this very long awaited blessing of ministering to the women whom God has placed on our hearts.