The room was almost set. The hand painted t-shirts with the innermost voices of the women with wounded souls hung on the double doors gracing the entryway. The clothesline with the rest of the t-shirts ran criss-cross along the foyer. The inner sanctuary glowed with tealights and lamps on the small round tables were dotted all around the room, making it feel more like a softly lit café than a church sanctuary.
My stomach was in knots as I went table to table double checking every setting: scripture cards-check. Jewel scatters-check. Flower petals-check.I glance up at the altar and my heart warmed as I took it all in.
I stood there momentarily lost in a prayer of thanks and intercession to my Heavenly Father: “Dear Lord, let them feel You as they walk in. Let them feel safe to release the pain and receive the healing that I know You so long to pour out to them. Fill this place with Your Presence Lord that their shattered hearts may be mended.
The front door opened and I felt the night chill rush in and footsteps began walking through the foyer. Suddenly, a deep weeping filled the air, sobs choking her as she cried out: “Finally! O my God, finally. I’ve waited so long. Prayed for so long. Never thought I would actually see it, but finally…Thank You God. O my God. Thank You!!!”
Tears began to stream down my cheeks uncontrollably as I felt the embrace of my Heavenly Father. It was as if He said: “THIS”. This is why. My daughters need healing. They need your story. They need to know…they’re not alone. In her book “When a Woman Finds Her Voice”, Jo Ann Fore describes it this way:
“There’s a freedom that comes when you deliberately stretch your dry, shriveled places in front of God, when you’re willing to smooth your pain in an open area.” ~ Jo Ann Fore
Stretching out our painful places. So scary. So vulnerable. Such potential for healing!
The room filled up almost immediately and when I turned around the place was filled with women. Women I had never met before. Women coming to our first “Stop the Violence” service. Most of them had heard about it by word of mouth. One invited the other. All had come to meet with God.
This was not your ordinary church service. It was October, 2010 and it was my first time holding a service outside of my local church premises. Stepping out in obedience to what I believed was God’s leading to speak to women unknown in a location outside of the comfort of ‘home’. “What in the world was I thinking?” “No one’s going to show up!” “You’re a fool to think anyone’s going to take the train and a bus and come after a long hard day’s work to come listen to you!” “What in the world do you have to say worth hearing?” The thoughts ran rampant in my head bringing with them the suffocating fog of fear.
As sure as we can feel at the very moment we hear the Lord speak to us, we are just as sure that we must’ve heard wrong when the “Goliath” of ‘fear’ and ‘doubt’ come to riddle our hearts and minds.
Yet, what is faith if it is not taking the risk on what you believe?
For MaryEllen, her cries that night as she walked in spoke of a pain and a shame held in and ‘stuffed down’ for far too long. They spoke of a long-time, unanswered prayer that one day–some day, the church would be a place where women could be embraced and believed. A place where they could talk about the abuse and violence and pain and shame…and not be blamed.
For me, MaryEllen’s cries that night were God’s way of assuring me, even before the night started that–Yes, I had indeed heard from Him. Yes, it was worth the risk and Yes…it made a difference. And to that I said: “Thank You Daddy. Thank You.”
As the service came to a close, I felt compelled to pray for the breaking of the ‘generational curse’ of violence and abuse in the family. MaryEllen stood and came to the center of the altar. I prayed. She wept. God broke chains. She came up to me, immediately after the service and we cried together as she shared her story.
“Is there anything more powerful than the story of a woman changed through God’s healing touch?” – Jo Ann Fore
The very next service, MaryEllen was there. With her were her mother and her daughter. Three generations of women. Chains broken. Hearts set free.
Today, MaryEllen is free from her abusive relationship and has started a new life with her boys. Her daughter and granddaughter are living proof of the restorative power of God. MaryEllen remained in her home church and now speaks up for those in abusive relationships. Her story shines a bright light of Hope for women there and her voice rings true and strong.
Since then, Fierce Woman Found Ministries has ministered to hundreds of women and witnessed dozens be healed and move forward in their purpose and destiny.
And to this day, MaryEllen’s story serves as an anchor…as a reminder of the reason why I speak and why I know how important it is for women to be free to share their story.
“I need my children to know I was thinking of them on the nights I didn’t have a hand to hold…tearing up the ground on which I stand knowing it’s the soil on which their lives will grow. So I’m fighting giants so they won’t be fighting cycles…” – Oraia
There is power in your story! Power to heal you and power to help others heal. Make God strengthen us in our journey together as God leads us to find our voice!