Ministering to Tough People

I need perspective and balance in this difficult outreach.

I've always been drawn to hurting people. When I first began to reach out to those who are wounded, however, I was naïve. I believed that if I could introduce them to the truths of Christ, their problems would be solved. In some cases, that's exactly what happened, although it was an extremely slow process that took years of daily input and discipleship.

Gloria (not her real name) was such a person. She'd come from an extremely dysfunctional background and as a result suffered from severe depression and almost daily anxiety attacks. After becoming a mom, these symptoms increased. When I met her, she'd become a Christian but was floundering in how to raise this new baby who was entrusted to her. She could barely manage her life, let alone guide someone else's.

But at this crucial time, God brought her into my life. We moved into her neighborhood and I, too, was a new mom. As we connected over our children, we began to get to know each other, and I discovered that I had just what Gloria needed—daily guidance from a mature believer and immersion in the Scriptures.

We lived in that neighborhood for only three years, but in that time Gloria began to start on a road to healing. When I left, she'd become established in a local church, began to meet regularly with a counselor, and was finding the help she continued to need.

Similarly, I got to know Marsha (not her real name) when she came to our Bible study with her parents. Just 22 years old, she had two children and had been divorced twice. During her second pregnancy, she found a relationship with Christ. When I met her she was in that new Christian euphoria that believes life will be rosy from now on.

Just a few months later, her mother called me in tears. Marsha was pregnant again and could not face being the single mother of three children. She'd decided to get an abortion. Her mother pleaded with me to talk to her.

My heart sank. Nothing sounded harder than getting involved. But I met with her and talked about God being the creator of life and that he never makes mistakes. Marsha only wanted to know one thing: Did God forgive her and could she ever return to him again? She felt that since she'd blown it so completely after coming to Christ, he could never want her again, so she might as well keep on sinning. I assured her that Jesus waited for her with open arms to come back to him.

I met with Marsha weekly throughout her pregnancy—even during the last few weeks when she was hospitalized in order to keep the baby. She became a fighter for this child's life that she'd wanted to destroy a few months earlier. Although the world would consider Marsha a failure at her young age, I think of her with delight.

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