In late August, I started working with a local organization here in Oklahoma City called No Boundaries International. This is a group of men and women who have a heart for the marginalized and disenfranchised in our city. They want to see the love of Jesus make a difference in the lives of those they serve. They bring light into dark places and love people where they are with no other agenda. Through this group and the doors the Lord has opened, I have made friends in hard places. My friends in hard places come from all walks of life and have endured many things such as drug and/or alcohol abuse and prison. During these two months, I have seen what Jesus can do in people who come from hard places but will let Him soften their hearts. I am seeing them walk in freedom! They may all be at different places on their journey but they are getting there, one day at a time. I am getting to know them as people and learning about their hopes and dreams more and more each week. I love my friends from hard places.
My other friends from hard places come from the streets. They are prostitutes – some who want to be, some who have no choice. I have an idea of what their lives are like, but I am sure nothing I imagine could be close to their reality. Just this month, I began working with a new ministry from the Oklahoma City Dream Center called Arc and Lantern. A few nights a week, with Oklahoma City Dream Center leadership, we go to places in the city many would consider dangerous and frightening. We speak with women most people would not even look at much less stop to talk to. We offer hope to women who have no one to talk to. We offer clothing, food, toiletries and water to women who may work or be forced to work all night without a break. We love them where they are and we listen to their stories if they will speak with us. We see them. Yes we stay safe but we are not afraid. We are daughters of Light who carry His Light to those who otherwise would not see Him. I love my friends from hard places.
You will never see them in a picture online or on social media - to do so would be to put them in danger and certainly invade their privacy. However, you will see me write about how much I love them and how much God loves them. You may never know their name but God does and I choose to as well.
Why do I choose to love those in hard places? I choose to do this because four years ago evil jolted me out of my spiritual slumber. I loved Jesus yet I had served Elizabeth for far too long. I witnessed what abuse does to someone and what it did to me. I decided never again for myself! I decided never again for anyone else that would allow me to help them! Far too long, I have been afraid. I have hidden in safe places and looked away from the injustice and evil in this world, safe in my suburban bubble. No more! I will not look away anymore! I will not turn away from those whom evil oppresses! I will do as Jesus did. I will go into the highways and byways and into the places no one else wants to go. I will take the Light to the dark places of our city and to this world. I am not afraid anymore! I love my friends in hard places! I love them too much not to show them the Way out!
John 1:5 NIV; The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Until next time, Elizabeth