This year I have had the pleasure of being a mentor for the CWJC (Christian Women’s Job Corp) which is a ministry for women that want to better themselves by learning life skills, job skills, and having the training and education to take and pass their GEDs and ACTs. I fell in love with these women of all ages, some with kids and some with grandkids, but all had a heart needing love and care and grace, rarely if ever offered.
I have learned a lot in this process. I have learned what it truly means to say “I am poor.” I have learned that you can be homeless and still care for your family and long for a better life. I’ve learned that the system is broken and the government misses those who really need aid while trafficking those who know how to work the system, but mostly I have learned that God loves the poor and their circumstances aren’t a reflection of their faith or His favor. I’ve recently learned that poor is an attitude, and even the wealthy can be poor.
In March our women graduated, ready to take their GEDs and move on. I watched their faces shine with hope and excitement at what this test would mean for them and their families. I watched mamas grab babies and hold them above their heads in anticipation that this marked a change for their generation. I watched women weep as they moved their yellow tassels to the other side of their caps, something they had never done, and had never thought they would do. I wept and clapped and hoped and believed!
Before we left that last day, they asked us to pray. The enemy was already playing on their insecurities. One girl was convinced that she would fail. She always had, nothing would be any different. Our hearts ached, and we dared the enemy to come against these women; he would not win! We patted and hugged and reassured, and we believed that on test day they would shine.
Only, it didn’t happen that way. This is where I have to interject my absolute hatred for the devil! He will not stop until he devours and destroys everyone one of God’s amazing creations…and with women he attacks their insecurities. Even as I type this I want to cry. These precious women were timid and shy and every thought of failure and unworthiness and inequality was already running through their precious minds…the lies were stacked up against the truth. And, the devil knew this.
The minute they got to the place to take the test, they were refused their prayer time. It was late. There was a time limit, and they had to get started. Funny, the lady that tested them was in such a hurry since when she finally got them in the room she proceeded to berate them, and degrade them with her harsh words and actions. She told them they were worst than criminals and every word out of her mouth spoke hatred and judgment. She even forced one of the ladies to remove her shirt because it looked like a jacket, even when the woman insisted that she had nothing underneath, that it was her shirt, the instructor didn’t care. Even though there was a young man in the room, rules were rules…and our sweet lady was mortified and embarrassed, appalled and shamed.
Can you imagine? Can you for one minute take on the heart and mind of that woman and feel what she felt? These are women that have been beat down their entire lives, many of them physically abused, several sexually abused, and I would venture to say all of them have been emotionally and verbally abused. They had believed the lie that they would amount to nothing. They had listened to the voice of the enemy taunt them and stab holes in their hearts, and poke at their wounds. But they chose to rise above their circumstances and make a better life for themselves and for their families, and in the process they learned more of the God that rescues and redeems, restores and saves, and that can’t be taken away!
It is no wonder that none of our ladies passed completely. My heart breaks as I relay this tragic story – even as it did as I heard it! One poor lady almost had a heart attack due to the stress all this caused, and all of them were scared, broken and shaking when they met with the program leader later that week. But even considering all of this, they only marginally failed those sections…what a miracle! And God’s grace shines through because they will not be charged for their retakes. They are stronger than the devil gave them credit for, and they are eager to show him Who decides their fates!
Here is the beauty and strength of those women, proof that their hearts are healing – rightly so, they filed a complaint against the lady that tested them, but in spite of the pain they were handed, they offered back grace. They are praying for the woman. And, by their example, I am praying for her, too, for she is poor.