[The name of the young girl in this story has been changed for the sake of her privacy. We thank the Lord for her beautiful witness to his saving Love.]
This is Daniela. She is 13 years old. While we were back in Chachapoyas, this time to study Spanish for two weeks, in our down time we got to know this young lady.
Daniela lives with Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. She is one of 28 girls who have been blessed to have a fresh start in life. Her mother was shot and killed in front of her when she was only six years old. Her father tried his best to raise her and your two older siblings. After many years of trying, he felt it was best that her two older siblings be sent to their grandmothers house to live. But the grandmother could not afford to take in all three, so Daniela being the youngest was sent to live 15 hours away with the Sisters in Chachapoyas.
Daniela and my daughter Julianna began their friendship the last time we were visiting with the Sisters back in March, but this time the Lord made it clear why this friendship between the two of them was so important to Gods plan. On the first day back, Julianna got a glimpse of Daniela’s arm. Later that night Julianna told me what she had seen and asked me to speak to her about the cuts on her arm.
The next day, a bit nervous to share about my personal testimony of our Lord, and a bit worried how I was even going to start the conversation with Daniela, I turned to the Bible for comfort and understanding. I read and reflected on the passage found in 2 Timothy 1:8, St. Paul’s example and his own advice: “Do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord.”
Even though I am embarrassed of my past, I felt compelled to share my testimony with this young lady. I felt that she needed to hear that she is not alone and that God loves her.
So the next morning both Julianna and I sat down with Daniela. I was so amazed by this young lady’s strength as she began to tell me of her broken heart and the loss of her mother and how she has always felt so out of place in the world. After a few minutes with her, I began to tell her my testimony: about how I felt so broken, unloved, and unwanted until I fully allowed Jesus to enter into my heart. I spoke about how many times I allowed the world to rate my worth. I told her how I use to turn to self-harm in hopes to take the pain away that others had inflicted on me.
I will never forget the look on her face as she lifted up her sleeve to show me her pain that she has been dealing with in silence. Daniela began to pour her heart out and started explaining how she is just wanting to be loved and each time she tries she just gets hurt even more. She asked me how I was able to overcome the silence of cutting. She was so eager to know how Christ was able to love me more than any human on this earth could ever.
The remainder of our time in Chachapoyas we spent together was in front of Jesus, something that I learned very late in my life to do: to fight emotional encounters with faith. We looked up scripture together, Reading about how God feels about each one of us and how much our lives are worth to Him. We practiced together how to give all of our troubles, heart breaks, anxiety, depression, and insult to the Lord. We read together about Saint Paul and the struggles he experienced as a follower of Christ:
“Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one – I am talking like a madman – with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?” (2 Corinthians 11:23-29).
We talked a lot about why God made us in the 1st place. I have always loved the simplicity of the old Baltimore Catechism: We were made to know Him, to love Him, to serve Him, and to make Him known.
It was wonderful to hear Julianna chime in and explain to Daniela what this means for our lives here on earth. Having a 16-year-old testify to the purpose of why God created us meant a lot to this beautiful 13-year-old.
I am certain that Daniela has a very long road ahead of her, as she continues to fight against the worlds temptations, desires, and wants. But she is a very strong young lady and very capable of fighting off Satan’s attacks. We plan to keep in touch with her and with the Sisters where she is staying. Providing we can afford to make the eight hour bus trip to see her. We pray that we will have another chance to visit with her.
Please keep Daniela in your prayers. She desperately needs each and every one of our prayers. I personally pray that she will allow God to love her, that she will feel complete and know her worth.
Saint Paul we thank you for your example of a true faithful servant who endured many hardships and much cruelty as you served as a Disciple of Christ. Your ability to remain faithful, strong and to overcome emotional struggles and the hatred of others is a testimony that has saved many including Daniela and myself. Thank you for your testimony. Saint Paul, please pray for us. Amen
Thank you to all of our financial and prayerful mission partners. It is because of your sacrifices that we were able to become a friend to Daniela. It’s because of you she was able to hear testimony of God’s great Love for us and to know her worth.
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