Struck Down but not Destroyed
“Killing you’s too easy. We gonna carve up her face so she’s not so pretty no more…and cut out that one’s tongue so she can’t talk about Jesus.”
These threats, coming through our phone from anonymous men in the inner city neighborhood we’d moved into, filled our hearts with fear. Four young women had moved into a house in the LA ghetto, believing God had called us to have a presence among those with whom we wanted to share Jesus’ love. Safe? Absolutely not.
Yes, we were struck down. Some mornings I could barely get out of bed. Some nights our staff men came, kept us company and prayed with us ‘til 2 or 3 in the morning, when we finally thought we might fall asleep. Threatened with rape and mutilation, we learned the way to all the nearest police stations in case we were being followed.
Christmas season was peppered with robberies. Our low-income neighbors often went all out to provide gifts for their children, only to become victims of theft. My housemates and I had also been busy making gifts. Standing in front of a dining room window stood a 24-inch Paper Mache angel with a bib-like apron. Two staff women were downstairs working on their own creations of leather work and stitchery late one night when some gang members walked by and smashed the window. The glass shattered, falling into the angel’s apron!
“The angel saved us, the angel saved us,” called Arletta as we phoned the police to report the vandalism. We were struck down; but not destroyed. God was with us in every threat, every attack, and the break-ins we experienced.
One night I was particularly exhausted and terrified. I climbed into bed, pulled the covers up over my shoulders, and prayed “Lord, if you don’t waken me in the morning I don’t think I’ll get up for work. I’m too scared and worn out to hear an alarm.”
And at 7 am I heard my name—in a loving, warm voice that sounded like rushing waters—just “Carol”. I looked around…and saw no one. But I knew it was my Father’s voice. He loved me enough to waken me in the most loving, intimate way because I needed that that morning.
“Thank you, Abba.” I lifted my voice in praise, got up and dressed, and headed into work.
It was moments like this—hearing my name spoken by an unseen Presence, looking at who God is through his Word, catching glimpses of eternity—through which God sustained me during those trials.
Today Christians are being horrifically tortured and murdered In the Middle East. Our pastor’s message this weekend tied in beautifully with my prayers for them this week as I prayed II Cor 4:7-18 something like this:
“Father, your persecuted Church is hard pressed on every side. Let them know they are not crushed. Although persecuted, remind them they are not abandoned. Help them not to lose heart. Though outwardly they are wasting away, let them be renewed inwardly day by day, knowing their momentary troubles are achieving for them an eternal glory that far outweighs these troubles. Help them to fix their eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
Prayer: Father, be with your children who are facing torture, starvation, murder. I confess I can’t even comprehend what it would be like to have my child murdered and desecrated. Show me ways to help, and assure my brothers and sisters that, even though they are struck down, they are not destroyed. Remind them that, no matter how weak they feel, you are still all-powerful. Give them moments of clarity about you. Grant them glimpses of eternity to sustain them, knowing you will never abandon them and that glory awaits.