I posted this on Facebook the other day but I thought I would share it, along with an update, on my blog for those of you who may not read my Facebook page.
A few weeks ago there was a huge drug sting in the town where we live. Over 100 arrested. Some folks that we minister too - mostly ladies - here in the projects were effected. Most for selling prescription drugs. Some of them in order to help pay bills. Whatever the reason, whether it seemed good to them or not, it was wrong. We have reinforced that, but also loved them and reassured them that we were not going to turn our back on them. Of course, the projects have a no drug policy and they were all served eviction notices. Sarah has gone to visit the ladies in jail and gone when court dates came up. It has been a real "stretching" time for us.
Well, last Thursday morning I got a phone call that one of the ladies, Theresa, had died while in jail. She was in poor health and we aren't sure what happened. The folks in the projects are almost like family to one another and especially the ladies that attend Good News Mission, the mission that we direct. Sarah was in Knoxville taking care of Granny who just had surgery the day before, so I fielded the phone calls and visited some of the folks in order to minister to them.
There is a good friend of ours, Lori Berta, who has a Bible study with the ladies here at the mission every Thursday. She came and did a wonderful job talking to the ladies and just allowing them to talk about their memories of Theresa and how they felt about her passing. One, who lived across the street from her, recalled how she and Theresa would tease each other and call each other the "old hags" of the project. Another recalled how Theresa enjoyed collecting purses and how she always had key chains and other "dangly" things to hang off of her purse or key chain. I recalled how she always wore things that you thought would never match but was able to pull it off and make it look great. We all laughed and cried remembering our dear friend.
Last Saturday was the funeral. We decided that Sarah should stay in Knoxville where she was needed and then, later, visit with Theresa's two children and minister to them. I attended the service. It was a time of remembering Theresa and the good that she did. It was a time of reflection on how, even though Theresa made mistakes, she was forgiven by God. Theresa knew that Jesus died on the cross for her sins and had long before asked for forgiveness. And God forgave her for all of the sins that she had committed in the past and all of the sins that she was going to commit in the future. Now Theresa has a new body. No longer will she have knees that ache. No longer will have sores that won't heal. No longer will she have a heart that doesn't work correctly. She is healed and she is free. Free from pain, free from poverty and free from the pressures of this world.
Yes, ministry is tough sometimes. It's often not fun. Why do I continue? Because I know it's what God wants me to do. I want to hear those precious words someday - "Well done good and faithful servant."