Merené is a 23 year old girl who’s life has been far from smooth. She, at a young age was put in jail for drug abuse, using crack and meth on a regular basis. She met Jullian a man whose record was anything but clean and was in jail for theft. They dated for 6 years and during that time had two kids. They loved their boys (fallen and Jayden) very much but because of drug influence, abused them regularly.
I met Merené on the very first Sunday at church. i was immediately drawn to her but the first thing I noticed was that she was very guarded, distrusting girl. We connected over our age and my playing with her two boys. As the 6 weeks went on I kept coming to visit her house and I learned a lot about her family. Her boyfriend in jail at the time, left her to take care and provide for her two kids. Her dad who’s job was the main source of income for their family had recently lost it leaving them in a vulnerable place. Their family began selling alcohol and drugs out of their home to compensate for the lack of income despite the risk involved.
On one occasion we found Merené doing drugs and upon confronting her about it she denied. It was after many visits, conversations on her couch and investing money into helping her get to court to see Jullian and also to get a new I.D. She began to confide in me the deeper things of her heart and life. She shared with me stories from her past of times she had beaten her boys, the time she had been in jail and the time her boyfriend Jullian almost was killed in a robbery. Now I was able to walk her through healing, through forgiveness and repentance if she was willing. She was! She forgave herself and those who had hurt her. She apologized to her family for the way she had acted in the past, healing the most prevalent relationships in her life.
This brought a freedom and a hope to Merenés life that I had never seen. I didn’t bring it, I simply introduced her to Jesus and watched Him heal her heart. One night at a crusade she gave her life to Jesus and asked to be baptized. Merené was baptized in the ocean, got her I.D. And applied for a job at Checkers ( the local grocery store) all in one week. Our conversations went from guarded to her sharing dreams with me. Dreams to go back to school, become a doctor and support her parents who had done so much for her.
On the last day she presented me with a poem about our friendship and before we left asked, Hilary, lets end off your visit the right way- with prayer. My heart burst as I listened to her prayer watched her interact with our team and saw the joy and hope on her countenance. Merené is a new creation – the old has passed and I got to see a glimpse of the new to come!
Simpewe, we met unexpectedly one afternoon. He came up to our ministry group and asked us over to his home. When we arrived we met a very bitter mom who began to go off on Simpewe telling us details about his alcohol addiction. She even went so far as to say that “he was the worst of her life.”
My heart was heavy for this man who in his late 20s was still living with his mom in this way. My heart hurt for the way his mom talked about him like there was no hope for him or change in their lives. Out of that burden I turned to Simpewe, grabbed his hands and looked into his eyes and said, this is not who you are, Simpewe. This is the effects of decisions you have made but today you can make a decision to change.” I saw his eyes widen as he sat up in his chair. I asked him if I could share a story with him to which he said, “yes.”
As I began to share the gospel with him, I saw tears well up in his eyes as I described Gods love for Him and how he is a child if God. 30 minutes later both he and his mom were saying the sinners prayer with me and he declared to us all that he was done drinking. We rejoiced with him while explaining the difficulty he would still face, the temptations that come with giving up addictions. He said he still wanted to. We took a picture of him to celebrate the day.
Upon coming back to visit a few days later we found his house tidied up all remnants of his former self (bottles) gone! He had hung his new pictures on his wall and was smiling from ear to ear. What a transformation!