She had cried a thousand tears by the time I met her.
Last week, a local homeless woman stumbled into my circle of care, asking for help. Selena had been homeless for several months, and a few months ago she lost custody of her daughter, Arayana. While staying with extended family, Arayana had drowned in a tragic ending to a torrential three-year journey.
After the death of her three year-old daughter, Selena had her daughter cremated and carried around her daughter’s ashes in a small box in a backpack with her only possessions. Along with the ashes, Selena had sealed the box with the only pictures she had of her daughter before she died.
Last week, Selena slept outside on the concrete steps of a local church. When she woke up in the morning, she discovered that someone had stolen her bag (and consequently, her daughter’s ashes)! She began to tremble, screaming hysterically at God for His assistance! She knocked on the lifeless doors of the church, and began clawing through the bushes looking for her precious box. The local homeless community began to assist her in the search, soliciting the help of anyone passing by…
When I first met Selena, I could see that the past few days had taken a toll on her emotional and mental stability. She could hardly talk; lips trembling as she repeated the story over and over and over. I invited her into a circle with my friends, and we began to pray. She just sobbed, and confessed, “God, I don’t even know if you exist… I’ve lost whatever faith I had. But I am willing to give you what is left of my broken heart…” She wiped the tears and motioned with her hands, gesturing an offering, “Here.”
[Where is God when it hurts?]
Within three days, we had organized a search team and began to print off flyers. We knocked on the doors of local businesses and began to help Selena search for the missing box. Our assumption is that the thief falsely assumed some monetary value, and after discovering the ashes probably dumped the evidence in a dumpster or in the woods somewhere. We invited the media to help us tell her story. We walked and prayed and joined hands in anger and hope.
Yesterday morning, I invited Selena to the stage at Exodus Church. After sharing her story, our family of faith lifted hands in prayer [ektenos: the stretching of a muscle to its limit], and offered ourselves as the answer to the question of God’s Presence in the pain.
He is here, even now, in the furnace of suffering. God’s heart breaks for the poor. He rages against the brokenness of this world, and he has enlisted the cure ~ an invisible revolution of Kingdom Citizens who are committed to the inauguration of a New World Order. Every act of love increases the capacity to love more…
*To listen to the audio recording of Selena’s Story, check out “The Saint’s in Caesar’s Household” at www.exodusasheville.com/listen (“Boo” is her street name, and you can hear her voice at the end).