Last night, the unexpected happened.
I had the joy and privilege of speaking at the Galesburg Rescue Mission. God led me to speak on fear, something He’s been dealing with me on the past couple of weeks. I shared from Exodus 14, where the Israelites crossed the red sea. After I was finished speaking a woman came up to me, sobbing uncontrollably and collapsed into my arms.
I said, are you afraid? She said, yes, very afraid. I asked what it is that she’s afraid of? She said, my parents never wanted me, and so they beat me, my ex-husband, he beat me and now I’m pregnant and I’m scared.
She then said, I’m not supposed to be here. I asked her what she meant by that, if it was to not be at the rescue mission or here on this earth and through deep tears she said, here on this earth. My heart broke for her as she put herself in the fetal position, rested her head on my chest and began weeping, uncontrollably.
At this point one of the counselors had come back into the chapel and I told her everything this woman had shared with me to make sure she was getting the help she needed for what she was dealing with. As I held this woman, I couldn’t help but think I was holding a child; a wounded child, who was never loved growing up, who was told they were a mistake. This lie was confirmed to her over and over again through multiple beatings and neglect.
I couldn’t help but think that many students come into our youth ministry feeling the depth of a similar pain, because they have parents who have chosen not to care for them or have experienced deep and dark pain because of neglect or some other family issue.
We can’t let this continue to happen. We have to stand the gap for these hurting children. We, in the church, must become their family. We must care for the vulnerable and speak a different message into their hearts. We must be a source of healing and restoration, through Jesus, to their wounded souls.
This woman and I prayed together, she was nestled in my arms with her head on my chest. I was doing my best to extend God’s love to her in a tangible way. As I prayed, I wondered if there were very many people in her life growing up who she felt safe enough with to allow them to hold her. I was thankful she felt safe with me, but saddened at the same time wondering who had failed her as a child growing up.
I know not everyone is going to share my same burden for hurting teenagers, but I would ask you to pray about how God might use you. Ask God to open your heart to them, so that you can show them Christ’s love. It will take a whole church to accomplish such a great task of adopting these children who come from the outside into our church family, but through God’s strength and Christ’s love, we can accomplish such a task and see lives changed. I just don’t want to be holding one of my youth group students in 15 years, sharing the same heartbreaking story that will have crippled their lives, just as it had done to this woman.
Please pray for this woman. Pray that she would find her hope and identity in Christ. She said she knows Jesus, so please pray that she would find healing for her wounded heart and become a new woman, in Jesus name.