Melissa watched her father turn blue. She saw the blood clot in his eyes. Only six years old.
She walked in on him.
The chair slipped. The Noose caught. And she was forever scarred.
How do you tell her she is loved?
Some days the past is a haunting shadow. It seems painful, ugly, or in the least irrelevant.
I have some stains from my past. Hard parts of life where alcohol and poor life choices made some of the adults in my life harsh.
I have become hesitant to bring it up. Modern American Christians can be pretty awful at helping the mourning soul. It’s not always a safe place to talk about defaults and harsh experiences. The shock value of telling people about the reality of this harsh and dar world is often met with awkward clichés.
“God heals, bro.”
“Why can’t you just get over it?”
“Oh here we go again, she’s talking about her family.”
I often remain silent of anything hurtful that’s ever happened to me. It’s usually just the gateway to more misunderstanding when I attempt to be understood. The safest place for grieving is usually with the outcast, the druggie, the recluse. Not the well adjusted, the religious, the “righteous.”
I had been asked to speak in front of a South African high school. I thought this meant sixty village kids. It meant hundreds of well-dressed highly educated students.
So I was planning to mumble off impersonal details of the bible and talk about temptation when Jesus told me to just share a snippet of life. Give a slight testimony. Of past wounds. Of hard times.
So nervous and groggy, as mornings aren’t my groove thing, I stood up and told hundreds of students about the consequences of alcohol, how first hand I have seen the destructive power. Of the challenge of staying clean and sober in a world that wants to see me become another statistic.
Just a simple testimony of life, a short window into the mind-blowing fact that as rich as Americans are we still have problems. As together as missionaries seem, we are still broken people
A murmur broke out among the teachers. My story had struck a chord.
Apparently in this small sleepy South African town, a stranglehold of gangs, drugs, and alcohol was gripping the students.
Gripping the parents.
I was approached later on by the staff. They wanted us to come and teach drug and alcohol counseling seminars all day. Just a small snippet of my past and the door opened to minister to hundreds of students.
We stood tired after a day of seminars in a classroom full of seniors.
One girl, Melissa, asked a question that caught us off guard.
“I know God heals, but why do I feel this deep pain inside? A burning pain? I ask God to take it away and I just don’t understand. Why does pain happen? Why won’t God just get rid of our pain?”
Some of the students are struggling to speak English, let alone ask deep theological questions.
And that threw our program out the window. Our team began to improvise, sharing testimonies, answering questions, and teaching this class as a beautiful united picture of Christ. Eventually the students even asked if we could teach the next period.
The teacher relented. And for an hour and a half we ministered in a public school, sharing the gospel, and answering questions.
She started crying and telling us her story. Of a mother that doesn’t love her. How she feels wounded and abandoned and has gone so far as to cut herself. To stand in the kitchen with a knife to her arm, in front of the person who brought her into the world, and begging for love while her mother silently looked onwards.
Her mother blames the death of her father on the actions a young six year old girl. And all Melissa wants is to know. Why does the person who should love me the most, love me the least?
Words really can’t do much at that point, can they?
I didn’t have the answers. I just knew when things have sucked, Jesus got me through.
Her brave testimony moved the entire class. Students began to sob and share that they come from broken homes.
To some of them it was that the struggle at home is real. I wonder if they all knew. If they had talked about it together or if this was the first breathe of fresh air in a longtime for some of them.
The first time they shared about home.
We prayed for Melissa as tears flowed among all of us. Prayed for her mother. Her friends squeezed her tight. Life won’t be better for Melissa because the circumstances change, but because a burden shared is a burden halved. We shared the love of Christ with her that day. She knows Jesus, but her journey is only beginning.
A classmate of Melissa stood up after we prayed, she thanked us. Told us she was going through a similar situation. And on behalf of the school she is honored to meet people like us. Simple, humble, broken people.
I think upon Corinthians 1:3-7, Paul wrote that the reason we suffer sometimes is to bring comfort to others who suffer. Those dark moments in life are jam-packed with meaning.
A meaning to hold onto.
Even if it takes years to share that story, someone in the future is depending on you. They are suffering and desperate for comfort.
No matter what it is, you are that comfort.
Be it divorce, drugs, alcohol, the pressure of homework, failing school, the deepest and darkest moments of the human condition or the seemingly light ones. Pain is real. Never minimize it in light of others. I haven’t gone through something an ounce as terrible as Melissa has. Yet the pain I have known is just as real. And sometimes it is the catalyst to reaching a Melissa.
Maybe you are afraid to share your story, maybe you feel that it’s not much of a story.
If it was painful for you.
It was painful. That can’t be denied or robbed. Pain hurts and there is no need to ever minimize it. And if we never share our pain we rob ourselves. We never learn that our pain had a meaning and a value to it. We never reap the harvest of comfort that our pain creates.
There are people all over walking around that need to know they are not alone. Clinging to the past and desperately wanting to share the story. To grieve. To know that they are not alone. They are all around us. If today you hear this, do not harden your heart. Ask someone to heart their story. Even people you’ve know for years. Share yours. Start doing this thing called life together and working out the details. Because there is a Melissa in the future out there who needs to know someone loves her and someone cares. And you can be that person.
I am currently in need of support as a missionary to keep seeing God do great things overseas!
1. I still need 5000$ to reach my financial deadline!
2. I am in need both short-term (Shampoo and deodorant and stuffs) and long-term goal (getting back to America and not being homeless) financial support. I am asking that people pray about maybe supporting me with my personal finances in preparation for my arrival back in the states. Years of missionary work in the non-profit sector has bled my coffers dry and while I need even now financial support to finish this journey, I also need to start preparing for coming back to America and integrating back.
3. PRAYER. This is my most important need, through it we avail God, the creator of this universe, for help.
Please contact me if you want to help in anyway!