If you’ve been around here any length of time you’ve heard me talk about my friend, Josephine. We are an unlikely pair but this woman is knit into my soul like few other people. You really need to read here for the back story if you have no clue what I’m talking about. In fact, I insist that you go read it now! I promise you’ll get chill bumps.
A little history:
This is a photo of the first day I met Josephine in 2007. She is on the far right with the gray hair and gray shirt. She was a crack addict who often slept in the gutted apartments in this inner city housing project.
Josephine was born again during our church’s mission work in her housing community. This is our reunion one year later in 2008 – still drug free and working the first full-time job she’d had in years. Doesn’t she look like a different woman than that first picture? That’s because she is!
This past summer. Community of Hope – the organization who hosts our work in Smiley Court – arranged for J. to be given a car so she wouldn’t have to rely on public transit for work. I’ve never seen anyone any more proud of a vehicle in my life.
This past week I went to a fund-raising banquet for Community of Hope where the Director, Lou Ann Raughton, asked us to give a tag team testimony of how the Lord had brought us together and what He had done in Josephine’s life since then. Josephine had already spoken at the previous year’s banquet. Can you believe my girl went from smoking crack to speaking at banquets? Only God!
J. acting silly with her beautiful granddaughter. All but one of Josephine’s daughters were with her at this dinner and the one who wasn’t lives in California. There wasn’t a dry eye when she shared how she used to steal from her girls to support her drug habit. What she said next sent me straight into the ugly cry. “My oldest daughter put me out because I stole from her too. What I’ve learned from Christ is that I don’t have to steal any more because He freely gives me everything I need.” Profound.
It’s now been 2 1/2 years. Josephine is still drug-free and is working as both a restaurant hostess, and get this, at a church in a food/clothing pantry. She told me, “Lisa, they gave me a KEY! I’m moving up in this world, girl!” Indeed, she is.
A couple of things I want to say:
1. I’m not sure where your church is located but if you are considering a North American missions effort, Community of Hope in Montgomery, AL should be on the top of your list of host organizations. Most of y’all know I’m a Southern Baptist girl and proud to be. One of the criticisms I hear about our denomination is that we strategize missions instead of doing missions. That may be true in many cases but I can promise you that Lou Ann and her team are DOING the work of sharing the good news to those often overlooked by society. Visit the link to learn more about their ministry and find out how you can help.
2. I am so proud of Josephine my heart threatens to burst out of my chest every time I see her. She has Lou Ann and others around her for strength but she still battles those who would drag her back to her former way of life. Would you consider leaving a comment here to encourage her? She doesn’t have internet but I would love to print off this post and mail it to her so she can have a tangible sense of the pryers being offered for her when she is feeling weak.
Y’all are fabulous!