Today was a much clearer picture of life in Moldova and the overall mission of Beginning of Life Ministry (BoL).
Yesterday Jenni shared about what the school visits were like. My experience was similar minus the singing part. Kids were extremely gracious, curious and well mannered. My group spoke to 4 classes at the 11th and 12 grade levels. When I asked them if they could go anywhere in the world, where would they go? The most common answers were, New York City or Las Vegas.
This morning we spent a couple hours at the psychological art center which is another ministry of BoL. This facility is designed to use art as a form of therapy and teach skills that can transfer into income. They craft a bunch of cool things that can be purchased in their little store. Their customers up to this point have been special orders from larger countries and short term mission teams that visit. Now they are in the process of opening a little retail store front in their building which should give them much more exposure.
They have an extremely talented artist teach painting as an art form not only for therapy but as a way to create things people will want to buy. The other gals teach the girls, often times single moms, life skills that include sewing and crafting. The items range from bags crafted from used denim jeans to dolls and stuffed animals created from socks. Every single item is made by the girls and the sale proceeds go back to them to help cover living expenses. It’s a great reason to purchase stuff. Here are a couple paintings that weren’t for sale that one of our team members purchased anyway.
From the art center we went out in small teams to visit single moms who have been or still a part of one of these ministries. These visits include bringing a toy or two for the children and bag of groceries to help the family. A typical single mom has difficulty even earning a couple hundred dollars in a month. Most tiny apartments will use up all their income in just the rent. On top of the rent they have expenses like heat, electricity and so on. Their utility costs are very similar to ours in the States yet their opportunity to earn income is so much more limited. From our perspective it seems impossible to survive. Here is a story of one of the families we visited
As Jenni also shared in her post today, my favorite part of the day was celebrating Valentina’s 18th birthday. It makes me want to focus on reminding people of how special they are in God’s eyes no matter what trauma or mistakes they’ve experienced. Everyone was so intentional in showing her love and you could tell she soaked it up. She is finally in a place in life to begin to receive love and believe that it is real. This may sound very simple to many of us but it has taken her over a year of intense recovery to begin to believe that she has value and that there is geniune love with no strings attached. She is finally understanding the heart of God. This is all happening because of the heart and intentional actions of the BoL staff.
Looking at life back home, I want to take a little piece of what I have seen in action here and begin to duplicate it in El Paso. I want to live more on purpose each day to influence a society in my back yard that can have a ripple effect for generations. I am so thankful for each of these BoL team members and what they have taught us all and for the inspiration they have offered me in this short visit.
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Posted in Faith, Mission, spiritual on July 15, 2011|
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Recently I went to a Mexican Restaurant with a bar here in El Paso. I like to go there every few weeks to play in a free poker tournament. It’s something I enjoy doing and I am intentionally working my way into a community of people we would call “unchurched”. The thing is, I just see them as people who have normal concerns, pain and a longing for happiness in their life.
They are no different than me accept most of them have no relationship with their Creator. One particular person stands out from the crowd. She is an amazingly warm and friendly woman I’ll call Virginia. Virginia is 63 years old. Looking at Virginia you would not think of your typical grandmotherly type. She is completely covered in tattoos, she is not afraid to hug every man in the bar and will talk about absolutely anything with just about anyone. She has befriended me over the past couple months and introduced me to several regulars.
The last time I went to play I got to sit next to Virginia and I started asking about her tattoos. She told me about the next one she wants to get and showed me a necklace that it would be copied from. She asked if I knew what it said or meant. I had no clue.
As she began to explain the symbol for slaves she asked if I knew anything about Dominatrix. Me, a little in shock, said no. She procedes to tell me about her current “Slave” relationship with a retired high ranking military man. She grew up inside the Hells Angels motorcycle gang. She said her mom was a slave to her father and so this lifestyle is really all she has known. She is basically the property of this man and has to submit to pretty much whatever he tells her to do. It is quite fascinating and frightening all at the same time.
Virginia asked if I was freaked about what she was telling me. Inside, I was a little freaked out but I told her I wasn’t. It became crystal clear to me in that moment that I am speaking to someone who has lived in dark captivity her whole life and she doesn’t even know it. Satan has so deceived her since she was a little child that she now believes this is a totally acceptable lifestyle. I silently prayed for her to be released from satan’s bondage and to know what God’s freedom feels like. The conversation died for a while and I just pondered the things she had revealed to me. I felt honored to be given this opportunity to know so much about her and to know that I am able to show her what a relationship with my Savior looks like.
Eventually I asked her what it was like to be inside the Hells Angels. She said all the “myths” that I have heard are not myths at all. It is not a friendly organization. She went on to tell me some more things that were hard to fathom. She also told me that she has had experiences with ghosts or spirits. Early in our conversation I sensed that she was in severe spiritual bondage and the more she shared the more her spiritual captivity became apparent.
In my past I would have written Virginia off as a weirdo and moved on. Now, her situation really bothers me. I truly want to help her find freedom in Christ. The thing I know is I have to show her the power of God. She has to have some desire to be set free. These things will only happen if I show her unconditional love and acceptance.
How do I do that?
Honestly, I don’t have a clear answer yet. At this point all I can do is spend time where she hangs and continually pray for the Holy Spirit to guide our conversations and give me insight. Please join me in praying for the Virginia and the many other hurting people in El Paso.
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