Friday, November 18, 2016 our annual Discovery Women’s event Cherished takes place at our central campus. This year’s guest speaker is Gwen Adams of Priceless Alaska, an anti-sex trafficking organization based in Anchorage, Alaska that walks with victims to find new life while meeting practical needs. To prepare your hearts for the time here’s a featured guest blog post from her. 

By Gwen Adams

2016 Cherished Featured Speaker

Discovery Church Cherished WomenAs the executive director of Priceless, I am committed to staying on the front lines with our team and not just leading from my office. I am a mentor to a woman I will call Tia. Tia is in the battle of her life struggling with severe depression. She is safe now, narcotics free, surrounded by people who genuinely care about her, and best of all, she is a brand new follower of Jesus.

But this new world where she is not under the control of a vicious pimp, free from beatings and abuse, free from constant chaos and living in survival mode, is terrifying to her. Terrifying to the point where all she can think about is ending her life.  I spent a good deal of time with her in the hospital after yet, another failed attempt. For the first time, the reality of all that has happened in her life, abuse beyond words, is staring her in the face. The truth is hard to see. She asks me, “How am I suppose to live one more day with my reality?” She wears every broken piece of her life hung as a garland around her neck. I want to take it all away, but it’s not mine to take.

We have become close friends…she calls me her only family. I have struggled in this strange role of mentor…friend…even family. Her world is so totally different from mine. My Bible education and churchy world words seem hollow. I can’t talk her out of nightly terrors and visions of abuse. I send her scripture via text, pray over her, play songs of redemption to her and tell her over and over again that none of this is too big for God. I meet her practical needs and bring Tia her favorite treats, and still it seems nothing changes.

I do not have the skill set, the expertise, the experience or even lots of excess time to be “family.” I AM HELPLESS! As I have cried out to God on her behalf He has shown me His own character. I get the sense that Tia is a professor sent to teach me the ways of God. I also am full of peace in the fact that she is in the hands of Jesus and he loves her with His perfect love. I don’t have any clue what her future holds, I still wake up occasionally in the night afraid of the phone call that tells me she is gone. But learn? I have! Lessons that will forever shape how I see my Creator, my God:

  • I control nothing.
  • I may only get the next few minutes in front of me with Tia. Use every single one to God’s glory.
  • I am the tangible expression to Tia of Jesus himself. Lead with compassion.
  • God alone controls life and death. I can’t keep anyone alive.
  • My tears communicate more of the grace and love of Jesus than my words.
  • Fill the small moments with light, laughter, hope and peace. Those may be the only moments of light, laugher hope and peace she feels all day.
  • Be honest, tell her the truth about how hard it is for me to see her this way and how inadequate I feel.
  • Find others to pray. There is a war raging in the spiritual realm for her heart. Always be covered in prayer!
  • Trust that God has her, all of her, every single hair on her head is numbered. She is one LOVED woman.

This is the most difficult faith journey I have taken. My life has been totally wrecked for seeking to live in my comfortable Christian bubble. I’ve lost all ability to live content knowing hundreds of Tias exist in my state. I lose sleep. But, I also see God like never before. I see His beauty and power. I watch Him leave the 99 and run toward the one, dragging me along for the ride.  I look forward to sharing more of my journey with you this Friday.

Blessings,
Gwen

 

Melody Copenny

About Melody Copenny

Melody Copenny is a poet, writer, author and storyteller living a gospel-centered life. A native of Atlanta, GA, she’s called Orlando, FL home since 2005 and been a member of the Discovery Church family for 12 years. Presently she serves as editor in chief for the Discovery Women's Ministry blog, Cherished. She's passionate about the intersection of creativity, words, theology and popular culture and writes to be real, relevant and reveal. A healthy foodie who enjoys cooking well, classic soul and R&B and serving a women’s group at Discovery, she blogs regularly on themes about grieving, mourning, living and loving at www.findingmelodie.com. You can connect to Mel on Twitter & Instagram @findingmelodie.

One Comment

  • Gloria Quintero says:

    As a survivor of abuse, I can relate on some level to “Tia.” I have also been in that dark place, where death seems like the only sane choice. As a pastoral counselor, I know the importance of giving someone like Tia the opportunity to speak about her pain out loud. I pray she can find someone in the professional counseling field who will be willing to give her the safe space she needs in order to heal from the trauma she has endured. My heart goes out to her.

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