Sitting on the floor of a newly built house in a slum community, I had much to celebrate. Yesterday, a team from NightLight and from The Ruth Center had been invited by the family to come bless their new home and dedicate it to God. As we sang and prayed, the grandma and mother kept wiping tears from their cheeks. This wasn’t just a normal house dedication; this was a miraculous testimony.
New Years Day, we received a phone call from a distraught NightLight employee. “Ari” was calling to tell us that her house had burned down early that morning. When a team of us from NightLight went to the site, “Ari” fell in our arms sobbing. Her mother was sitting near the fire, tears streaming down her face. The husband was standing staring into the charred remains. Everyone was in shock, disbelief, and overwhelmed with the loss. The family of 7 had gone out of town for the night and returned to find that everything was gone, including two pets. Only the cat had managed to escape. This family lived in a slum community on land that was not their own but just a year before they had built their own home. Now it was gone. For most impoverished families this would have been the straw to break the camel’s back. This would have sent the family homeless into the streets or in bondage to loan sharks.
Yesterday though, we celebrated the turning of mourning into joy. This was one family that was not undone by tragedy but victorious. “Ari” has been employed at NightLight for about 6 years. When she first came to us at 21 years, she looked like a 14 year old as she pleaded with us for a job. She had just given birth to her first child, and to make ends meet she had felt pressured to work the streets. “Ari” just couldn’t bring herself to do it and when she found out about NightLight she quickly came seeking opportunity. “Ari” is a good worker, a sweet mother to her two daughters, and a faithful daughter. “Ari” has initiative, perseverance, and ambition to see her family succeed. The fire was a tragedy but for this family it was not the bitter end.
Through the joint efforts of NightLight, The Ruth Center (an organization that cares for the elderly), and the family, funds were raised and a brand new home was built. “Ari” made a decision to follow Christ many years ago but has faced a lot of opposition in her family. Both her grandmother and her mother were spirit mediums and they both wanted “Ari” to carry the inheritance of channeling for their spirits. It has not been an easy road for “Ari”. Not long after the fire, the entire family made a decision to follow Jesus.
At the home dedication, the family cried tears of joy as we worshipped. “Ari” expressed that though they had lost everything, their new home was better than the last. Through the tragedy of a fire, her family had come to Christ and “Ari” was no longer experiencing the persecution. We prayed over the family and then ate a meal of celebration with them in their new home.
Yesterday was also International Women’s Day. We didn’t mention that at the house dedication. I didn’t even think of it then but looking back, I can think of no better way to celebrate. “Ari” is a young woman who has overcome poverty, persecution, and tragedy and whose life has been empowered to bring hope to her family and her community. “Ari”is one of many women we honor this International Women’s Day.