I had a vision. The vision was simple, really. There was this doorway, with a person standing with the left leg in front of the other, almost in a “half lunge” position. Their left arm was also out in front with the palm opened as if to say, “Stop.” This person’s right arm and right leg were directly back, as if taking a karate pose, ready to fight; ready to fight confidently.
When looking back on a week at Mel Trotter, I had one young woman in mind. Brittni came into one of our programs and blew me — and so many of my team members away. There was a presence about her, this feeling that she really needed “to be saved.” The world had been cruel to this young woman. She grew up only knowing evil – smoking crack with her mother, father in prison, and in turn she didn’t trust anyone, yet constantly caught up in extremely negative relationships. Many of her children had been taken from her and she was on the path to have yet another child removed from her care. And she held a child in her womb.
I looked at this young woman and I felt so much pain for her. I’ve always asked God to “break my heart for what breaks His,” but I guess I only half meant it, not truly wanting the pain that accompanied the prayer. I found myself suddenly angry with the “systems” that this young lady had encountered, and I felt pain in my heart while thinking that she never really even had a chance. She grew up knowing only evil and was never taught anything different. Humanity had failed her.
With our female program guests, we have been studying the book, “Grace,” by Max Lucado. The week I had this vision, we were studying forgiveness. I know there were a lot of emotions triggered and even I was strongly challenged in this area. In chapter 6, Max Lucado writes, “Grace is not blind. It sees the hurt full well. But grace chooses to see God’s forgiveness even more. It refuses to let hurts poison the heart… Where grace is lacking, bitterness abounds. Where grace abounds, forgiveness grows… Sequence matters. Jesus washes first; we wash second.”
“I looked at this young woman and I felt so much pain for her.”
The fact that God doesn’t just save us FROM something, but saves us FOR something, has really been impacting me lately. I feel a responsibility to pour this idea into our women, as well. It doesn’t matter your position or socioeconomic status; God has saved you FOR something. I have seen ladies live this out and the fruit of it is a beautiful thing.
However, when I say that ministry is a real job and ministry is a real necessity, I say it with all the gumption in me. The week that I kept having this vision of someone “standing in the gap,” was a week that was not one of my favorites. The entire week, I felt this sense of pressure that kept overwhelming me. While doing my best to keep my “poker face,” I kept feeling this urgency and a great need for… something. Though I had continued to do my daily devotions and prayer time with God, there was a need for something so much more. A desperation.
At the beginning of her stay at MTM, this young woman wanted nothing to do with the topic of God. I respected that, but still asked that she join me in the daily devotions that I lead with our women. Brittni would come in and sit right next to me. For a few days, she just slept right next to me while I read the Word and gently and compassionately patted her head. The following week, she was at least awake. The next, attentive. The next, receptive. The next… raising her hand to accept Jesus as Lord of her life.
I was ecstatic. I just kept thinking, “This is the beginning to this young lady’s healing. It’s all downhill from here.”
Stay with me for the next blog post about how Brittni started to self-sabotage… and almost lost her life.
To be continued…
Erika Mariglia is the Program Manager at Mel Trotter Ministries, where she oversees the advocates and has a major role in spiritual life initiatives. After spending seven years in Honduras helping to build a bilingual Christian school and doing prison ministry, God called Erika to MTM to demonstrate the compassion of Christ to the homeless, hungry and hurting in the greater Grand Rapids area.