“But Joseph replied, ‘Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.’ So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them.”
— Genesis 50:19-21
Guerlande moved to the brothel when the options of putting her son through school grew thin. She kept her profession a secret from her family. Nadia had worked in the brothel for many years. Her skin shows many scars, one a thin line running down the side of her face. When I first met them, their living conditions were deplorable and their pay wasn’t that great either.
What kind of future is there for a prostitute in Haiti? Where is the hope in such darkness?
Two years ago Nadia and Guerlande, along with five others from the brothel, were presented with the opportunity to leave their past behind and become Beadmakers, I’ll never forget the moment when they were presented with the question, their eyes clouded in confusion, unable to even comprehend life outside of prostitution. Guerlande and Nadia were the two that took the risk.
God is the author of the most radical stories.
I just returned from Haiti, where I spent another week with Nadia and Guerlande. When I look in their eyes of these two women, I can hardly believe they’re the same. They’ve dared to let God begin to heal their deep rejection, to face the scary unknowns of a new life. Their faces light up with smiles, they take pride in their work and they are so talented. We are teaching them new things, but instead of just listening to our directions, they give insight and suggestions, confident of their skill. They have escaped the hell of a corrugated metal building with crude spray-painted numbers on the doors. Instead they’ve found freedom and value in their gifts. They have been changed because Jesus hasn’t given up on them. Light is breaking into the darkness and God is writing a new story.
Two years ago, I left a group of women who were empty and searching, but this year I left two ladies full of life and hope. But how? How have they risen from such adversity?
Joseph had been sold into slavery by his brothers who were jealous of their father’s love for him. He had been beaten and abandoned in jail. He had been falsely accused, all while living alone, in a foreign country. He had every reason to be broken beyond repair. Yet, in the midst of it all, he clung to hope as God blessed him and placed him in a place of prominence. And so it happened that when his brothers travelled from their homeland to find grain in the middle of a famine, Joseph was the one in charge. When he finally revealed to them who he was, they were terrified for their lives. But instead of hatred, Joseph responded with forgiveness and love for them.
Ann Voskamp writes, “What was intended to tear you apart, God intends it to set you apart. What has torn you, God makes a thin place to see glory. Whatever happens, whatever unfolds, whatever unravels, you can never be undone… Out of a family line that looks like a mess, God brings a Messiah.”
You can never be undone.
There are two ladies in Haiti who were torn apart. But that was only the beginning. Today they dare to hope and dare to dream… because what was intended to harm them, God has used for good. There are scars and there is hurt, but there is Jesus.
It’s Advent and we are waiting to celebrate the birth of Christ. Psalm 119:30 says, “Break open your words, let the light shine out, let ordinary people see their meaning.” The promises are there for us, too. God can take what is torn and broken in your life and He can turn it into a gift. Jesus is our Savior who takes what was meant for harm, and transforms it for good.