I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. Ps 6:6NIV
“I know Calvary Baptist,” the woman next to me said. “They help people. They moved me into my house. I’d heard they helped old people so I called and a bunch of men showed up with a truck and moved me.”
“Have you ever worshipped there?” I asked. “We call ourselves the church without walls and moving you in is a great example. We like to be the church to our community.”
“Oh no,” she said. “I’ll never go to a Baptist Church. I was married to a Baptist preacher for 5 years. I found him in bed with a 17 year old.”
“Don’t blame all of us Baptists because of one bad one,” I said. “When I get back from this missionary journey, maybe you can go to church with me.”
I was sitting in Walmart, just a mile from my home in State College. My first stop on the 2010 Pocket Full of Quarters Missionary Journey was to get my nails done. I couldn’t believe how busy Walmart Nails was on Thursday afternoon. Four of us waited together and I already knew this woman had fallen down 27 stairs in 2004, was about to have her 7th knee surgery, had had 2 heart attacks, and had been abandoned by her 1st husband after 8 months. Her face showed the tell tale hollow sad eyes of someone tortured by life.
In fact, all three women waiting with me looked tortured. They knew about Jesus but none had a close personal relationship that could relieve their torture. The 33-year-old sitting across from me was recovering from a near fatal aneurism that left her stunned and disappointed with life. The woman on my left was overweight, in bad health, married to a Muslim, and had been trying to get pregnant for 10 years.
“My family wasn’t happy I married a Muslim,” she said sadly. “I figure it is all the same God but they didn’t see it that way. Jesus is in the Qur’an, you know.”
I nodded, while opening my purse and handing her 2 Christian tracts, Jesus and the Qur’an and Word Religions.
“Thanks,” she said. “You remind me of my friend. She is married to a Baptist preacher. She’s always talking to me about Jesus. I’ll read these.”
“She’s probably praying for you,” I said, smiling at her. “God probably sent me here.” I told her about traveling across the country helping people get to know Jesus. I gave her a card with a quarter in it. “This quarter represents the free grace of Jesus. That is the biggest difference about my Jesus. He loves us unconditionally and offers free grace. We don’t have to do anything to work for it. We just accept it. That information will tell you how.”
“I need prayer,” she said, looking down at the tracts. “We’ve been trying to have babies for 10 years. It isn’t going to happen without doctors we can’t afford.”
“My Baptist preacher husband and I tried to have babies, “ the first woman spoke up. “He used to get on his knees every night and beg God for babies. All that prayer didn’t do him any good.”
“I’m guessing that was before the 17-year-old,” I quipped, hoping to lighten the mood. It worked for a minute. She actually smiled.
“This is going to sound terrible.” She hesitated as if trying to decide to say something else. We all waited. “A man broke into my house and raped me. I got pregnant. We didn’t know whose baby it was so my husband got tested. He was sterile. The baby was from the rapist. I didn’t believe in abortion so I had her.”
Everyone waiting for nails service sat in stunned silence. They’d all been sharing their tortured tales but no one could top that story.
“How long ago was that?” I finally whispered.
“1975,” she said. “I guess it was good because I wouldn’t have my daughter.”
“You’re still grieving everything,” I said. “After all this time.” She shuddered and nodded. Everyone leaned forward to hear our quiet words.
“I’m dating a nice man but I won’t marry him,” she whispered. “Too many bad things have happened. I can’t be happy.”
“Yes you can! Life is hard,” I said. “The Bible warns us about that but there is a way to be happy. You’re tortured by life but you don’t have to carry all this around anymore. I have some scriptures here about grief. You can move past all this and be happy. I promise! I know people who have dealt with worse but letting Jesus help them.” I opened my purse and handed her a card with a quarter in it and a scripture card on grief and Jesus. Walmart Nails called my name so I stood up. The 2010 Pocket Full of Quarters Missionary Journey had begun.
Cheryle M. Touchton is the Director of Pocket Full of Change Ministries. For more information or to schedule a speaker for an event, go to www.pocketfullofchange.org or call Gail Golden at 904 316-5462.
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