Monday, June 11, 2007

The invisibles

We have another new face around the Women of Hope house. Andrea has come to live with us. Your prayers for Andrea, and for me as I minister to her, would be gratefully appreciated. She has a different background, and therefore also has different needs than many of the women we have discipled in the past.

My role within the house is changing as I take on more of the responsibility of managing it and discipling the women. I am grateful to have Elsie's guidance and mentoring in the process. She is supporting and encouraging me every step of the way, and also giving valuable feedback. Even when she points out my shortcomings, she does it in such a way that it doesn't feel like criticism, in fact, I feel blessed. I guess that's what it means to speak the truth in love.

We are continuing to go out in teams as we deliver the food to the food co-op members on Friday afternoons. I drove and blessed last Friday, and my first team were husband and wife missionaries-in-training who have come all the way from Korea to be eqipped for cross cultural service at Gateway in Langley( Our delivery route was the skid row and China Town areas of downtown Vancouver. This couple from Korea were amazed and appalled at the poverty and depravity on Vancouver's streets as we drove through the old downtown core. There is nothing in Korea that prepared them for what they saw: dirty, aging, homeless men pushing shopping carts full of their meagre belongings along the sidewalks; women whose bodies are nothing but skin and bone because they are too caught up in drug addiction to care about food; drug addicte3d prostitutes in outlandish get-ups and garish make-up trying to look alluring to passersby; and young men and women sleeping on the streets covered up with blankets and sleeping bags. This couple was so outraged at what they saw that it caused me to realize just how hardened and desensitized our North American hearts have become towards the marginalized and "throw-away" citizens of our culture. Although they are there on the streets every single day for all to see, somehow they've become invisible to most of us. We don't want to see them; their problems seem too overwhelming for us and so we choose not to care. The Korean couple told me that in their country anyone who is caught with an elicit drug, even a marijuana joint, will serve a long jail sentence. They cannot understand how our government can let people drink and do drugs and sell them openly on the streets.

My second delivery run was a long one, and our "swamper" was Stanley, a mentally handicapped man who is one of our food co-op members. Elsie told him that his job was to carry the boxes, and so he valiantly carried every single box, even though some of them caused him to huff and puff - especially since we sometimes had to park a fair distance from some of the buildings we delivered to. Stanley opted out on the last delivery; he was too tired to carry one more box. It was a real blessing to have him along, and as we went into the buildings and greeted the various food co-op members, they were generally very happy to see Stanley and the rest of us. We didn't do any praying on this run, but we blessed a lot of people and got a praise report from one lady that I had prayed with on a previous run. God had come in and healed some of the grief she was experiencing after her sister's untimely death.

Connie is doing very well. Although going to school on a full-time basis is exhausting for her as she adjusts to her new schedule, she his hanging in there. She's learning to deal with disappointments and with the normal ups and downs of life without wanting to resort to addictive behaviour to comfort herself and zone out. I give praise and glory to God for all that He is doing in her life; a few short months ago she was among the ranks of those who are homeless and drug addicted in Abbotsford. Your continuing prayers for her are coveted. Please pray for Mun Hee, as well. She's our resident Korean missionary, and she is having a tough time lately.

Thanks for reading this and for praying for us may the Lord bless you abundantly!

Elsie and Jana, Connie and Mun Hee

Monday, June 4, 2007

Answers to prayer

It's been a busy week, and tomorrow another one begins. There are lots of changes happening around the house. There are women moving out and others moving in.

Thank you to those who have been praying for us. Connie, who has 80 days clean now, begins the New Start program tomorrow. It's a program for upgrading education and skills and for helping women to become more employable. She's excited but nervous. It's been a long time since she went to school, and it's a huge step up from being on the streets just 2 and a half months ago. It's a wonder to see all that God is doing in her in such a short time. She's truly being transformed.

Elsie and I interviewed a couple of women who were interested in coming to live at the house. Neither of them are Christians yet, but the evidence of God's hand on their lives was so obvious. They felt drawn to our program because it is Christ-centered - although neither of them realized that's what the draw was. One woman was very fragile emotionally, having just left a very violent and abusive partner. Her life story was filled with trauma and abuse. She realized, as Elsie and I did, that our house is not the right place for her. She needs a place that is quieter and more secure. But we had a powerful prayer time with her and she told us she wanted to come to church with us, and today she did just that! I pray that she will continue to draw close to God. The other woman had an entirely different story to tell; she comes from a life of privilege and wealth. She has recently been released from prison, and will be coming to join us at the house some time this week. She'll fit in well, I think. I look forward to getting to know her better.

I had the privilege of praying for a few of our food co-op patrons on Friday as we delivered orders. One was a man with arthritis, another a lady who has recently lost several friends and family members, and another was a native lady whose son is serving a sentence in a federal institution for a crime he didn't commit. I love being able to bless people and to lift their needs up to God in this way, and I trust that He will respond by answering. He loves to reveal His care to people who are lost and hurting.

And speaking of answers to prayer, Connie and Mun Hee and I went to visit Connie's brother in hospital last week. He was very ill. He is a homeless drug addict who lives in the skid row area of Vancouver. He has AIDS and was sick with a severe bacterial pneumonia. He was eager to have us pray for him, and as we did, even he could feel the power of God move in response to our prayers. Today we had news that he is better and has been moved out of the ICU. Thank You Lord that You hear and answer prayer.