This year our theme comes out of Isaiah 55. One of the students that goes to Texas Women’s University that I get to meet with each week wrote this wonderful story that I think goes so well with that passage. Ann Haven has really begun to let God’s word transform her and Jesus, The Word of Life, has begun to bring her new life. Her story is the same as our story when we accept the invitation of God and drink from His truth. I hope that this story is encouraging to you…..
I'm so tired. My body is bruised, beaten, and bloodied. I'm so disoriented that I can't tell if the blood is mine or someone else's. I thought the battle would never end and in many ways it hasn't. The smoke has cleared, the shots have stopped, but I can still hear the shrieks of the people around me crying for their mother's, brothers, and friends they have lost. But the real war lives on inside me. Images are burned into my mind of people dying slowly. I can feel a sticky darkness - like tar - coating my mind and the inside of my heart. I'm unclean, impure, and internally broken beyond repair.
Eventually, I muster up enough strength to stand. Aimlessly, I walk from the carnage toward what looks like a forest.
I've been walking for what seems like years, and with every step I feel the despair and fear growing inside me. This journey I'm on has not only been taking a toll on my body, but my mind as well. I'm suffering from exhaustion yet all I can think about is how thirsty I am. My lips are cracked and bleeding, my throat so dry that not even the slightest cry could be heard.
The sun has been down for some time now so I hear it first. Water. A bubbling stream nearby! I try to pick up my pace but I loose my footing and collapse to the ground. I lay there stunned, dizzy from the fall. I realize my hand has fallen into the stream! I cup my hand and sip the water. I feel it run over my deadened lips, against my swollen tongue, and down my larches throat. "There's something special about this water" flickers through my mind, but only briefly because my eyes slam shut and I'm asleep.
Sometime later, I feel something pulling on my feet, a tingling in my toes. Startled, I blearily glance down at my feet. My toes have started to take root in the earth! Frightened, I try to pull away but I can feel the nutrients from the water being pulled up through my roots - swimming through my body. At first I'm scared and slightly panicked but the relief is so palpable I let myself sink back down to the ground. As the throbbing in my head dissipates and the aching fades I allow myself to drift off to sleep again.
Again, something wakes me. I feel soft caresses against my skin. I peal back the kids of my eyes and examine myself. Like a ballerina dressed in gold and white I see the suns rays dancing gracefully over my skin. Where the sun touches my bruises, porcelain buds burst from my skin and bloom into delicate crystal flowers. With every new bloom some of the tar is evicted, expelling toxins from my body.
I'm fully awake now. I desperately want to be closer to the light and the healing it's bringing. I realize somehow I've managed to stand. Like a child reaching longingly for a parent, I extend my hands up towards the light. All I can make out is the sillowet of my hands and arms. Quickly my arms begin to change into what looks like sturdy branches of a tree and I watch in amazement as my hands explode into leaves and more crystal flowers. My branches are twisting and bending up towards the sun and the life he brings.
Warmth spreads through my body and an inexpressibly joy is spilling from my eyes. Water, sweet and pure spills out from my eyes and joins the stream below.
Once again, I look down at myself. I'm not crystal, wood, glass, iron, or porcelain. I'm a completely new substance so unrecognizable that my elements couldn't even be found on the periodic table. I resemble a tree, but I'm not quite a tree. In fact, I'm not sure what I am. All I know is that I'm new and I'm beautiful, I'm stronger than I ever once was, and I stand among other creatures similar to me, yet completely unique. Created and joined together by same healing water.
Soon after the sun begins to sink low over the horizon leaving splashes of pink, orange, red, purple and blue across the sky. In the distance, I see another lost soul making it's way toward me. Running from the same war I was fighting in. I try to call out to the but what escapes my lips is a song that tells my story. The notes are clean and pure - Beckoning the weary soul towards the water.
I watch as the soldier makes his way toward me and frantically gulps the water, then collapses to the ground. Dead. Worried, I try to speak but again, I sing. Black tar starts to run from his eyes and his toes slowly stretch towards the water. I keep singing my song over the man and gaze at the moon as it reflects the suns light - reminding me that soon it will rise again and make this solider, this soul, completely new.
I get to work on a team of some of the best people I know. This year, I get to work with Ana, Rachel, and Autumn at UTD. They have been such an encouragement to me and have really invested in the women at UTD this year. I really need to take a picture of all of the women leaders and post it here so you can see their beautiful faces. For now, here is a picture of Ana and me and then Rachel, Autumn and me. Please be praying for them. Rachel is co-leading a core with a student, Ashley. They have such a large core with around 20 women they are investing in. Autumn and Ana are currently each meeting with 11 women small group leaders each week. They help the student leaders plan their group each week and help them in their own walk with God. Please pray that they can be a blessing to our student leaders!
In other news, we just got back from Fall camp last weekend. It has been so encouraging hearing the stories of people who were impacted by it. One girl, who is seeking God, came back from camp already ready to start making some life changes. She and her boyfriend are sharing an apartment on campus and she is considering finding new living arrangements because she feels like their relationship won’t allow her to really figure out what she believes about God. She knows that this moment will define the rest of her life. One of our student leaders and Ana are about to study the Bible with her. Please be praying that she will come to know Jesus.
Looking around our ministry this year, I can already see that God is calling people. He is moving and working all around us. Please be praying for these young people. So much is being thrown at them to distract them and tempt them. Many of them have believed lies for so long that it is hard to know that they are lies. He is changing these lives one by one. Thank you for your prayers and believing in this ministry!