…heart hurts…

Tears and laughter…
…pain and joy…
…stories of life changes…
…that change the listener.

Julie and I are only a few days removed from attending the Thistle National Network conference. A conference where several organizations came together to learn, share, and grow…in their missions to reach survivors of human trafficking and addiction, helping them in their healing and recovery.  

We’re still processing, and will be for weeks to come. To see a few hundred people gathered, many (if not most) were survivors themselves. Sharing healing stories, sharing fears and concerns, discussing ways to reach out and improve the processes needed to offer hope and love to those in need. It was…no…it IS powerful and overwhelming.  

We were humbled repeatedly through the three-day conference.  We were uplifted.  We were hurt. We cried, and we laughed. I don’t want to make this about us, but I want to convey a small idea of what we experienced – in hopes to inspire others to join the effort, to serve, and if nothing else to educate. Unless God sends me another direction, several of the upcoming posts on this blog will draw from our time at the conference. But I wanted to start with one that haunts and hurts me…

Monday night, several survivors answered questions and shared their stories with the attendees. Each woman was now serving in organizations across the country. They shared struggles, fears, and recovery. They shared the moments God moved in their lives. The times they realized they were forgiven. As one survivor put it…”the time I bumped into Jesus.”  They shared the joy they felt, the freedom they got from being forgiven, and the freedoms they have gained from forgiving others. It was a powerful, powerful time. As the night rolled on, it became one of the most compelling and forceful church services I have ever attended.

A part of this sharing made my heart hurt. I fully admit to wiping several tears from my eyes. Of the five women sharing…three talked about how they couldn’t share their story at church. “Too dark for church,” is what one was told, the other two on the stage nodded and agreed with the experience. They didn’t talk about it but had shared similar experiences. This was not them sharing what they had gone through…but they wanted to share what they had been saved from…to celebrate what the blood of Christ had done for them. Angels celebrated this in heaven…but it was too dark for church.

I checked with the survivors setting at our table. Each one had a similar experience. Some did mention they found churches open to letting them share…but did have to go seeking. Eight ladies are a small sample size…but eight for eight sure seems to indicate a pattern. And it’s not a good pattern. It’s not a pattern that honors God. For a church to be “like that,” people who claim to be Christian have to be “like that”…and that bothers me. It also drives me to introspection…what stories do I want to insulate myself from, do I want to be safe from? Am I afraid I might get ‘dirty’ listening to someone who’s come to know Jesus from a life I’m not comfortable hearing about? Shame on me if I am…

Whenever a story of someone coming to know the Light of the World is too dark for church or me…it’s the church (or me), that’s too dark, not the story.

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’

Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” [Luke 15:4-10 ESV]

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2 thoughts on “…heart hurts…

  1. Pingback: …humbled… | Kenn's Komments

  2. Pingback: …story time… | Kenn's Komments

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