This past week, my team began to pray for the Lord to show us the needs around us. To open our eyes to the people who need the love of God, and who are in desperate need of help. I prayed that the Lord would give me His eyes for the broken, and guide me to help those around me. Little did I know, how immediately the Lord would answer my prayers.
Two days ago, our team was able to participate in an annual party for the elderly in the community. We made Christmas hampers full of food, and other goodies for the holiday season that we handed out to the people that attended. During the party, my team leader gave an awesome message about pressing into God’s love, Sara did a craft with the women as a reminder of being loved, and then we had a dance party. It was so fun, and the women really enjoyed the time. Afterwards, we were able to walk with the women back to their houses so they did not have to carry their hampers, we got to get to know each other better (even through broken spanglish), and pray for them. Overall, it was an incredible day full of joy and the love of Jesus.
The next day, Tara (our host) asked if anyone wanted to go with her to hand out baskets for the women that were not able to make it the day before. To be completely honest, I had a lot of other things to do that day, so I really did not want to go. But I knew that I could get to the other things on the to do list later, and I really felt like the Lord was telling me to go, so I went. I am so glad that I did, because it changed my Race.
So, Tara and I went to the first women’s house. I will never forget the next encounter I had. As we walked in this woman’s house, I immediately felt this overwhelming sense of evil in the home. I tried to shake it off at first and push past it, thinking it was just all in my head. But as this women was sharing her story, my heart began to break. Through understanding a little spanish myself and then Tara translating, I heard the story of heartbreak. This woman who is in her forties was living with a man who was an alcoholic. He raped her every day, put her in chains, beat her, and rarely fed her. She was forced to live in this situation because she was mentally disabled and had no other source of income. She has been abused throughout her whole life, so she did not even see the hope in trying to leave, when we offered to take her to a safe place away from her abuser. My heart broke as I looked around her home, and saw where evil resided. My heart broke when I saw the loss of hope in her eyes. My heart broke as we left her. My heart broke as I prayed for her, and for the Lord to restore the hope in her life. My heart broke and so did my Father’s heart.
As my heart broke, I asked the Lord for strength to continue the day because I didn’t think I could handle hearing or seeing another heartbreaking situation. So we went to the next house. This elderly woman was in her eighties and had severe arthritis and was unable to work. She lived alone and did not have much family around. She took care of her beautiful garden everyday, and sold fruit in the market to have some sort of income. When we walked into her house, she immediately started crying. She threw her hands in the air and began to praise Jesus and sing worship. She was so grateful for the food, but even more grateful that the Lord provided. It was awesome to see the Lord show His faithfulness. Seeing this woman’s life first hand, seeing how hard she worked, my heart broke again. But the Lord showed me how to see horrible situations, yet choose joy in it, like this woman did. . It was so redeeming, and incredible to see the Joy that came from the Lord through this woman.
These Christmas hampers made an impact on the people in this community, but also made an impact on my life. There were many more heartbreaking stories, and stories of joy that we got to see this day. But through it all my perspective shifted. The Lord showed me how much he sees his people and how his heart breaks for his hurting children. He showed me how to try to see everyone I meet the way he sees them, with love, grace, and joy. I asked the Lord to show me the needs around me, I asked him to break my heart for what breaks His, and that is just what He did.
– Courtney Howard
This blog was originally posted on Courtney Howard’s blog, http://courtneyhoward.theworldrace.org/index.asp?filename=lord-break-my-heart, and was copied to our site with her full permission. Courtney Howard is currently is her fourth month on the World Race and has been partnering with LASM for the past month of November. Her and her team, Ambassadors, are only here till the 27th where they will have a debrief,an extended check-in time with leadership, before they head to Africa at the beginning of December.