So sometimes life moves too slowly, and at other times much to quickly. The last few months have been the later, and while I apologize for my absence, as a friend recently reminded me, life takes precedence!
Our family reached the milestone of one year since we moved to Georgia in August. Our first 11 months here were quite slow by design. Still mourning the loss of Crockett, with a desire to remain in the shadows of sorts, searching for a church in which to minister, falling into a new family rhythm complete with new members, and finding a new place, in our new place.
Finding a church family in July certainly ramped up our social lives, and ministry as well as friendships have been keeping us busy. God has led us to a medium sized church full of sweet brothers and sisters in Christ that have welcomed and loved our family in a very special way.
One week shortly after we joined this church our passionate pastor requested from the pulpit that members of the congregation attend the Sunday night ministry "Celebrate recovery". It is a 12 step program for those with addiction problems, or the loved ones of the same. Michael and I both felt led to see what it was all about in spite of the fact that neither of us has ever struggled with addiction. (other then chocolate of course for which no amount of steps will ever pull me out). That night we were faced with the reality of what we might call the down and out. We were the only visitors, and we were quickly informed by the then directors, that we could not serve if we had never been addicts, and could personally attest to the power of the12 steps. Our Pastor had said that the directors at that time wished to retire from the program, and without more people, the ministry would have to be discontinued.
Within a week our Pastor had a new vision for the program, and a new name, and some new willing helpers in Michael and I. We have been serving these precious souls for about 6 weeks now. Each week there are new faces, and each week we pray over the new and grieve for those who did not return. As the only female volunteer, I meet and attempt to minister to all the ladies that come. Most are from our local emergency shelter, where their physical needs are met for a limited time. Not all are addicted, but most are homeless, and loosing hope. It has been my privilege to pray with prostitutes, single mommas, and former heroine addicts. The first night I even met a man that had served time for killing another man, and asked that we pray for him to control his temper. We did, and I also prayed silently that nothing I said or did would tick him off...lol. God has used each of these individuals to teach me, and soften me in ways that I can not express here. The words "there but by the grace of God goes I" reverberate in my head often as I lament their poor choices, and confused ways. I know I did nothing to deserve the privileged life I find myself in, nothing to deserve loving parents that guided and cared for me, nothing to deserve a husband that loves me and provides for me. It is not I, but only the Grace of an almighty God that brings me to where I am. I struggle with the desire to bring each of them home with me, to shower and change, and sleep in soft clean sheets, safe from whatever has damaged and hurt them so. I struggle, because deep within I know that most of them do not want my help, or my Jesus for that matter. They eat a hot meal, and return again to the same lifestyle, some I suppose because it is all they have ever known, and others because to them it is safe. There are those few that return again and again though, and they are as hungry for the nourishment of the word as they are for the meal we serve. It is for those few that we are there, and for the spouses and children, and mommas and daddies, that they may one day be reunited with. Some of the gentlemen come to Sunday morning services as well. They often dress inappropriately, with smelly tattered jeans and shirts, or shiny patten shoes and pimpish gold chains. They often say "Hi, Mrs, Amy" and I grin and wonder what the proper Georgian church ladies think of me speaking with the likes of them. I like to let them wonder. I am no longer an outsider looking in, but am now on the front lines of sorts. And as I learn their stories, and feel their pain, and pray their requests beside them, hand in hand, I experience the joy that comes with loving the way Jesus loved, on His terms, in some small way attempting to be His hands and feet, and it hurts really good.
If you think to pray for us in this small ministry we would be very grateful.