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Full-circle moments

By Victoria Rosa-Garcia

Founder of Pure Love + Health Ministries

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A HISTORY LESSON

By the age of 15, I was ministering from the pulpit of my childhood home church. Leading Bible studies, worship, and teaching at my high school's Bible club were things I did regularly. My childhood home church built me for ministry from a young age. I feel very blessed now that I reflect on this truth, as it seems as though the Church (big C) today has created a lot of barriers for young people to minister in the capacity that our elders afforded us the opportunity back in the day.


The way Baby-Boomer parents taught their Millenial children how to swim at the local 'Y' was equivalently the fashion they "prepared" us for ministry; they threw us in and coached us from the sidelines. Sometimes we sank. Sometimes we floated. It took a long time until we actually could swim, but it eventually happened.

For context, our home church was a resourceful house of worship for other congregations in the City of Bridgeport. We had resources and programs that other churches didn't necessarily have. This afforded us the opportunity to receive children and youth from various surrounding neighborhoods for Vacation Bible Schools (VBS) during the summer and fed a pipeline to our weekly Missionettes and Royal Rangers program (which is like a Christian Girls and Boy Scouts). We had guest speakers from local congregations serve as guest speakers on our Christian radio station. We received individuals from all over the city struggling with addiction into our drug rehabilitation program called Helping Hand Center. We served the homeless of our city every Friday evening at our soup kitchen called Mana. We held youth rallies with local youth groups. Fellowshipping with local churches within our small city was something we did ... often.


In my teenage years, our home church became a temporary home for another congregation. While they constructed a church home on the east side of the city, our church allowed them to use our building for the duration of their building-project. Naturally, as teenagers do, we mingled with their youth group and built "relationships" (insert teenage smile here). We mingled generously with this congregation and held important services together, such as Easter and Christmas.


A MOMENT TO REMEMBER

Of the many services we held together in all the years that the congregation shared our building, I remember ONE in particular.


I was about 18 years old, (20 years ago), and I was leading worship with my then-boyfriend and childhood, girl best friends. I remember the spirit of God was moving in the house that day and every seat in the building was taken. As the Lord was moving amongst the people, I unconventionally made an altar call for all the youth in the building, inviting them to come to the altar and worship. I noticed a young girl in a long denim skirt, sneakers, and a dark blue t-shirt tucked into her skirt — walk from her seat to the altar alongside her friends. She came to the front, to the right of where I was standing, and held hands with her companions. Her head held low and down. The sadness on her face stirred me. I remember the dark circles of grief under her eyes and her face was filled with what I now can name as shame.


As I saw her fervently pray and cry out to God, I walked up to her and spoke over her saying, "Child, you no longer have to feel sad or ashamed in Jesus' name. Don't allow anyone to devalue you or call you dirty or ugly. You are not!"

Her little body began to shake and she cried heavily and worshipped. We stayed in a posture of prayer for a long moment, as if it were just her and I in the room.


It was as if this entire moment was for HER.

Inviting the youth up front to worship was for her.

This breakthrough atmosphere was for her.

The word of knowledge was for her.


God did it again. He left the 99 to find the one.


Aren't you thankful for moments like this?

When God uses a stranger to speak into your life when they have NO IDEA what you're going through. I am thankful to have been used in this young girl's life at the time. She was obviously in need of deep healing and the long face that came to the altar, so broken, went back to her seat filled with a little more light in her eyes.


But this moment, as precious as it was, soon became a faded memory to me, locked away in the corner of my mind and heart. ❤️


MEMORIES UNLOCKED

Today I attended a lovely book launch event with the many women in our Southern Connecticut community. Our dear sister in Christ and past participant of Purity + Peace, Ashley Delgado, wrote a book entitled, You Are Still Beautiful, sharing the intimate details of her upbringing, which included physical and verbal abuse, and a moment where she experienced sexual abuse.

There were three guest speakers at today's event, one being our very own Purity + Peace leader Zaibel Torres, and all three were victims of sexual abuse. They shared their testimonies courageously and with no shame or tears, but with conviction and passion.


Today's event struck me deeply because if you know anything about the origins and mission of Purity + Peace, creating safe spaces for people to heal is the foundational building block of our ministry's culture. Since 2016, we have encouraged atmospheres in small-group settings where psychological safety is a must and where women can share traumas and past hurts while receiving truths from God's Holy Word, the Bible. It was in this mission that the Lord called me at 30 years old to first share my unfiltered testimony with the women who attended the Bible study. I began to share a 25-year-old secret of my experience of sexual abuse with women I barely knew, but this obedience (to God be the ultimate glory) produced fruit.


What was once something we shared in small groups eight years ago, today was shared to a large group of 70+ women.

I left today's event feeling encouraged that as a Connecticut community, we are gaining ground in the area of testimonies and overcoming by the blood of Jesus. This is a transitional season that should be noted to us. We have labored in this area for years. To see fruit is exciting. To recognize the shift is a gift. Women supporting each other, especially in Women's History Month, is to be noted.


As I began to read Ashley's book today, a portion stood out to me. To align and respect the guidelines written in her copyright area, I will use only a small quote from her book: "In a noisy room with laughing children, in moments when I was smiling, I felt alone."

I instantly was transported back to the young girl who stood before me at the altar 20 years ago. Ashley Delgado, you stood before me as a tender, broken teen in front of a church full of elders, youth, and children, and the Lord met us both there to remind you that you were STILL beautiful then, and you're still beautiful now. I read the details of your childhood trauma today in the vulnerable pages you so delicately inked, and I wept.


I NEVER knew these details and yet, God did! This unlocked memory was the reminder I needed in this season that God truly meets us at our most down times to lift us up!


A FULL-CIRCLE MOMENT

Today I was inspired and ministered to by the young girl whom I ministered to 20 years ago.

Today she stood strong and bold in front of a group of 70+ women and shared her heart. She penned her most intimate moments in a book for all to read. The girl who was once a stranger to me at the altar has become a very real character in my life today. A friend. A sister. Only God can write stories like this.


As I go through my own season of ups and downs, I am grateful to have been poured into today by someone I poured into yester-year. This is the refreshing truth of God's family.


Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 | New International Version 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10 If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

This is us.


This is our story.


And it continues...


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