And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 1 Peter 2:24
The years of damage DuHope women have faced don’t heal from a quick-fix band-aid. Abuse, abandonment, neglect, war, sexual perversion, witchcraft and backstabbing – these are some of the disasters that have come into their lives. Healing requires constant cleaning, attention and care, along with understanding of the need to repent and live to righteousness. As the redemptive plan took time to unfold, so too does the restoration of the heart.
As we’ve been working with women at DuHope for 18 months, we have seen miracles along the way. We’ve witnessed breakthroughs of women leaving prostitution, others quitting excessive drinking or taking responsibility to care for their children. But often we fail to mention the smaller milestones which are a part of the long, grueling trek.
One of those hard trails to climb was when conflict and distrust were on the rise. One gossiped, telling an entire neighborhood about things intimately shared in counseling. Another was maliciously beaten by the other women. The staff knew that without intervention, they would eventually fall. So they gathered them together to play games to help build unity. With hot potato, telephone and a fun relay, simple truths like the negative impact of gossip were laid. They got it. They understood. In the final relay they raced one another to sing a famous love song and speedily put on their kitinge skirts and jewelry. Throughout the relay, they laughed hysterically. They were doubled over, some even drawn to tears. It was a mile marker day.
It’s not that the conflicts resolved; the journey continues and the same wounds will need to be cleaned again and rebandaged.
As advent approached, Marlene, the Spiritual Integration Coordinator, led them in developing a drama on Jesus’ birth. They stepped into the lives of Mary and Elizabeth, Zachariah and Joseph. The women walked in the hardships of barrenness, the cries of baby Jesus, the excitement of Elizabeth and Mary. “They saw the overall faithfulness of God in working out His redemptive plan,” said Marlene. When they performed at the Christmas party, it was yet another day of cheers and laughter. As Maurice, our financial officer shared, “They can learn from this and be saved from this journey.”
Weeks later, a DuHope woman became very upset during counseling and left in anger and sadness. Yet again, someone had shared her personal issues in the neighborhood. When she returned the one who gossipped about her asked for forgiveness. She refused. Then the woman got on her knees, wailing and begging for forgiveness. Hearing the plea of the one who caused her such heart-ache, she forgave. The staff stood back in awe as they watched these two women reconcile. Another landmark had come – they were not acting in a drama this time but displaying the mercy of God in their everyday life.
Slowly these women are following the hard path to heal, facing their pain and conquering their fears as they face mountains of grief, loss and struggle. It takes time, but it’s worth the wait. Our greatest hope is that they will know and believe in Jesus Christ as they learn to love, forgive and reconcile. So we continue this journey with them, rejoicing at every milestone along the way as they move towards wholeness found in Christ.