Sunday, August 4, 2013

Elfrida's beautiful story

I read the following in Jackie Pullinger's incredible book "Chasing the Dragon: One Woman's Struggle Against the Darkness of Hong Kong's Drug Dens" close to two years ago. I wrote out this entire part in my journal about a woman named Elfrida because it so deeply moved me and resonated with me. The Lord brought this to my mind today and He is whispering many things to my heart. I'll share my thoughts at the end of this post...


"Elfrida's life had been a catalogue of horror. Born to a father with two wives and a mother who was probably his mistress, she was brought up by an aunt after her mother committed suicide. This woman was a lesbian, and Elfrida was exposed to all the permutations of her affairs, which included one with Elfrida’s father’s wife. At 17, she had a boyfriend and was going to marry him, but she was thrown out of the house when it was discovered that she had been seduced by him. Sexually confused, not knowing whether she loved or hated men, Elfrida became a prostitute and dulled her senses with heroin.

For years we had been renting apartments in which men could withdraw from drugs. They were always full, and there was no room for women. I had avoided the old woman’s street. The dark, weeping ghost was persistent in her cries, however, and so came the day when I could resist her no longer and took her in.

In a small room six foot by four, Elfrida prepared to come off drugs. Her back was covered with old black bruises, and she was so weak and frail that my friend took her in her arms and carried her to the bath. She soaked a while and was carried back. We laid her down on her mattress and spoke peace to her. She was healed from that moment. When Hang Fook Camp became available, she moved in and it became home. She worshiped Jesus, washed and ironed and slept a lot. She also cried a lot.

I watched with many questions in my heart and mind. We had learned something of praying for those with past hurts, and I had observed both the courage of those who opened up old wounds still infected with fear and violence and the eventual resolution as the cross of Jesus cancelled the pain and offered forgiveness to the perpetrators. But in her case, how long would it take?

I wondered whether we would have to take her through each nightmare separately. That would take as many years as the afflictions themselves. The cross ought to be quicker. There had to be a solution.

Elfrida went with a team from Hang Fook Camp who visited the poor, wretched and unwanted. She saw sadness and lack of love in the lives of others and realized how much she had been given. One day, she came back from an old people’s home obviously incensed.

“They give them beds and vegetables, but that is all. They do not pray for them like we do,” she proudly opined, as if the omission was obvious.

So she went back, and as she visited came the desire to share what she had received herself. As she bathed the elderly, she prayed for them, too. Elfrida went to see street sleepers with her team and also found some of the old prostitutes whom she had known before in the Walled City. One was lying incontinent in her urine, having lost the need for a protector. Elfrida washed her body, washed her nit-ridden hair, and spoke of her new life and her Christ.

SHE LOVED MUCH, FOR SHE HAD BEEN FORGIVEN MUCH.

This new woman shed pain, bitterness and, as long as she served others, self pity. She seemed to shed years, too, and became so attractive that she found a suitor. Their wedding preparations were hilarious as she planned for the day she had been dreaming of most of her life. Bridesmaids. Flowers. Vows. Rings.

So, in her 70s, she married in virginal white and gracefully walked down the aisle to her future husband. It was a glorious day - a picture of how all things can become new. (1 Corinthians 1:20-31)

Oh God, who saves me in the darkness,
Give me strength and the power
So I can walk in the Holy Spirit
Fight against the devil with the Bible
Talk to the sinners in the world
Make them belong to Christ."

...

What an incredible testimony. 

No matter how weak, wounded, low, fragile, hurt, and discouraged we may feel... there is ALWAYS hope in Christ. He has the power to wholly and completely restore, heal, and redeem us in an instant. Things that the world says will take years of counseling and "working through," the Lord heals in a single moment. No matter how deep the pit we are in, God's love is deeper still, as Corrie ten Boom said. Even if the pain in our lives is caused by our own decisions or the decisions of others, the cross of Christ can cancel our pain.

No matter how much we have sinned, God can set us free!! He is enough. Always. Only. This applies to everyone, in all walks of life. It is so amazing that this woman who some would think was the lowest of the low, being a drug addict and prostitute, was healed in such a powerful way. Never feel like you are beyond God's grace, mercy, love, or cleansing power.

I want to encourage you not to dwell in your past, your pain, and the ways you fall short. I think so often we buy into the line, "time is a healer." In ways, yes, time does ease pain and make things easier. However, Jesus is the TRUE Healer. He sets the captives free.

As Elfrida's story shows, when we focus on ourselves, things may take much longer to work through. However, when we focus outwards and pour ourselves into serving Jesus and others, that is when He binds up our wounds. That is when He supernaturally heals us and brings us peace that passes all understanding. We are restored and renewed as we focus on Him and on His priorities, and allow Him to turn our focus away from self. I find it so healing to share my story and reach out to others who are post-abortive or have lost a baby. It causes me to turn away from my own sadness and embrace that God is using my pain and brokenness to make an impact. In some beautiful and magnificent way, He can take my own sin and sorrow and work it together for my good and His glory. He is showing me that because of the brokenness of my past, I can bring a perspective to this that others cannot. I see the ramifications that come when one does not walk in purity, the way God intends us to. I pray that through my sin and heartache, the Lord can keep others from making the same mistakes.

God oftentimes chooses the least likely among us to showcase His strength. When we pour ourselves out to others who are suffering in the same way we have suffered or are suffering, I believe there is a power in that. Our words have weight because we can truly say, "I understand... I've been there." Other people who have not been through similar circumstances cannot say that.

In the month of August 2009 when the Lord intervened in my life, He showed me that my verse is Luke 7:47: "Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven - for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little." The Lord proved this true in Elfrida's life as well... and He will prove it true in yours.

It makes me smile so much to read of how Elfrida got married in her 70s and had such a lovely time planning her wedding. I struggle with my own thoughts of not feeling worthy of having a godly husband or a beautiful love story, but then when I hear stories like this one, I'm reminded of what a redemptive, loving, merciful God I serve... and how He doesn't give us what we rightly deserve. He is a loving Heavenly Father who blesses us with good gifts. So even if you feel like you will never have a beautiful love story because of choices you've made and regrets you have, remember Elfrida's story. Remember who your Father is.

Of this I'm sure, the past doesn't own us anymore.

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This post left me:

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful story! You are so worthy of a godly man. Please, know that He has chosen someone extra special to be your partner as you speak for Him. .... someone who is worthy to stand with you in your testimony. It will take a special man to be your support system while you stand up for those with no voice.... you are standing against the tide AND YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE! :)

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