I am emotionally worn out. And my throat is a bit soar…
We spent the morning at the CCA Men’s Center (a rehabilitation center for drug addicts and alcoholics) giving and listening to testimonies. Literally, our team of 14 sat down with 10 or so men and went around the circle, each giving our testimonies. (The reason my throat is sore is because I served as the translator for each testimony.) Thus, for about 2.5 hours we sat in that circle and traded stories… The men talked about their addictions, eating out of garbage cans, living in card board boxes, stealing from their families and losing everything they ever valued: their jobs, their homes, their children, and their dignity. Some of the men had only been off the streets for a few days, others had already completed 4+ months (it’s a 9 month program). Regardless of the length of stay, each story ended with the acknowledgement that the only reason each of them was still alive was because of God’s grace and mercy, and that they knew he had a plan for their lives. Though many of the stories we very difficult to hear (and even more difficult to translate through my shock), I honestly witnessed a hope that could only come from a faith in Jesus.
As the group gave their testimonies, they each shared of the tragedies in their own lives and the role Jesus had in bringing them through the dark times. And though nobody on our team was a recovering addict, everybody had some serious baggage. The cool thing was that I saw healing happen before my eyes as they became vulnerable and opened up their hearts to each other.
As I often say: “There is no better proof for the power of Jesus Christ that your own personal testimony… This was me before, and this is me now, and it’s all because of God.”
For lunch, we headed to to the CCA Feeding Center (which is like a soup-kitchen for kids). We played with the kids, jumped rope, and then served about 60 children and their mothers.
In the afternoon, we headed to the CCA Women’s Center (a rehabilitation center for prostitutes, drug addicts, and alcoholics) and played the same “testimony game” as we did with the men in the morning. Though our stories were the same, the women had some very different stories. From murder to prostitution, it was another 2.5 hour session of difficult translation for me. But, just as in the morning, the healing that happened before my eyes through these shared testimonies was priceless.