JUSTINA’S LAST HOPE

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Which one, Lord?” I asked silently as I looked at the women seated in a semi-circle around me.   It was Friday night and there were several women attending this meeting for the first time that I did not know.   Could it be one of them for whom the Lord had given me a specific message to share? 

Soon after I began the study, another two families came into the building.   The men went upstairs to where my husband was teaching, the children went to their class, and the two women pulled up chairs and joined our study.  I then continued to share the message the Spirit had given me that morning at 6am. Things were different the night before.  I had lain in bed frustrated.   Thursday at noon a sister in Christ and I had driven to a cabin northwest of Chihuahua City for a 24 hour prayer and fast retreat.  I fully expected God to guide my thoughts and give me a message for the women I would be teaching the following evening.  After reading, praying, fasting, singing, and meditating for most of that day, my notebook was filled with ideas, topics and scriptures; but I knew none of them was “it”.   At 11pm my friend was fast asleep across the room while I was still staring into the black of the night wondering why God hadn’t given me that specific message for which I had felt prompted to fast and pray in the first place. 

I could have just as easily extracted a simple teaching from my files and resources, or picked any passage, share what I know and then open it up for discussion.  But something kept nudging me all week to not prepare anything until I knew I had heard specifically from the Lord.  But my faith began to wane when the clock ticked closer to the hour at hand.  I was frustrated in my obedience. 

It was going well as long as I believed God would honor my fast, answer in my timing and give me a message in a neatly wrapped package.  God surely knew that my plan for Thursday was to seek Him, receive His plan for Friday nights study, and have it written and prepared before going to bed.   And since God knows me so well, He should have realized I would need the few hours Friday morning to review my notes for polishing and perfecting before packing and returning to Chihuahua City.   He was also well aware of the fact that after I’d get home it would be mom business as usual until the family would pack into the missions vehicle at 5 pm and drive the 120 kilometers to the ministry site in the campos. 

God must have seen my frustration and heard my fussing, for He spoke in that still small voice asking me to trust Him.  I conceded, figuring if anyone has the right to interrupt my spiritual pouting, He does.  (It still amazes me how He trusts His Spirit to anoint and work through a spiritual whiner like myself!)  I’d love to tell you that I basked in a supernatural peace that swept over me as I completely surrendered all to Him.  Truthfully, more like the following happened:  Okay, Lord, I’m going to trust You but You really need to give me something asap!” Then God probably snapped his finger or something like that since I immediately fell asleep and did so soundly until I awoke abruptly at 6am. 

My eyes flew open with a specific passage repeating in my mind.   It was Friday morning and there in the dark, without my Bible and without paper to write notes, God gave me the exact message He wanted shared in its entirety.  What I tried to get, conjure and put together all week, God gave me in a matter of minutes.  Amazing.  After getting up I quickly wrote everything down and my friend and I spent the rest of the morning praying over the message and the women who would hear it.  

During the study, there was little reaction.  Among the Old Colony Germans however, that’s typical.  Still, I sensed the anointing in a powerful way and knew God’s word was at work in the heart and soul of each one present.  At the end of the study I prayed and, knowing the women would never raise their hand in public, asked them to tell someone if they’ve made a sincere commitment to Jesus.   After being dismissed, they gathered with their families and as is their custom left quietly without much ado.    

Days later I received a call.   It was Justina’s sister-in-law.   She wanted to thank us for holding “Bible class” and then began to explain why they were late arriving.   Justina had spent two weeks in the psychiatric ward of the Mexican hospital, being suicidal and suffering from severe depression.   It turned out to be a miserable time for her for various reasons, one of which is that Justina doesn’t speak or understand Spanish and couldn’t communicate with doctors or nurses.  

Her family had been at the end of their rope Friday afternoon when they checked her out of the hospital.  Her condition seemed worse than when she went in.   As they were leaving, another family member told them about a meeting being held that evening in Campo 11 by an American missionary family.  They didn’t know much about it, and although to them it sounded suspicious (and possibly dangerous, according to what they were taught concerning outsiders) they were both intrigued and desperate.   So after grabbing a bite to eat in town, they headed down the main highway through the campos and stopped at our Bible meeting in Campo 11, arriving late. 

The message that God burst upon me 13 hours earlier was for Justina.  She would tell me months later it was as if the words spoken were a direct response to all the pain, confusion and doubt stirring in her heart and mind. Clearly, others received and were blessed, per the comments that were made throughout the following week, but it was a specific message from God’s heart to Justina’s soul spoken through a weak and imperfect vessel. 

Justina responded to God that evening.  She went home, cried and for the first time ever, felt hope rise within her.  She had responded to the message and prayed, handing her life to Jesus as her last hope.   I wish she would have known that He was her only hope all along.   I wish they would have told her in church.  I wish her spiritual leaders spoke of Him and not merely of religious rules and empty tradition. 

Her sister-in-law told me that the change became obvious in her over the next several days and even her children were astonished and asked what happened at the meeting that night.   Now, every time I see Justina smile, I thank God.  When I see her shy eyes twinkle, my heart smiles in gratitude to a powerful Savior.  God knew all along that she would be there that night.   That’s why His Spirit nudged me all that week. That’s why it was imperative that I seek Him.  He was orchestrating Justina’s liberation, and it was to be done through prayer and fasting, for that is what breaks the yoke and sets the oppressed free (Isaiah 58).

(one of my 2003 journal entries)

4 thoughts on “JUSTINA’S LAST HOPE

  1. Helen, Thank you for your thoughts; I appreciate your honest reflections.
    The hopelessness you mention is something I heard repeatedly from one woman to the next in the campos. They may or may not wear head coverings, but it is not until they receive “God’s gift to us, that deposit of hope” (per your comments) when they realize that they are of value and that there can be a future for them here on earth, as well as in heaven. Suddenly, hope is born in them.
    I can usually identify those women who have rec’d that hope (have been born again): they smile!
    It was nice to ‘meet’ you. We appreciate your prayers. 🙂
    Ilona

  2. Hi Ilona, I shared my thoughts on hope with my friend Hellen after reading your blog. She thought you might be encouraged by it (posted above).

    Justina’s Last Hope is a fascinating read for me as I was raised in the Old Colony Mennonite church in Ontario; all I can say is- WOW-you go, girl!!

  3. I believe there is a new epidemic sweeping over North America–it’s called hopelessness. I’ve noticed it a lot among my friends and peers, which could be explained as a classic case of mid-life crisis, but it seems to be affecting almost every age group. I had a conversation with a friend just recently that conveyed this hopelessness I’ve detected repeatedly lately. “I’ve come to the conclusion that this is it,” she ranted. “This is as good as life is going to get.”

    I recently came across this tiny verse in the fourth chapter of 1 Corinthians: “For the kingdom of God is of a matter of talk but of power.” (Emphasis mine.)

    I believe in the power of God. I believe it was his power that brought the entire universe into existence, his power that opened up the heavens and earth to release the waters that flooded the earth and then shut them to cause the floods to recede; I believe in the power of God that brought the Israelites out from under the heavy hand of Pharaoh in Egypt and for all those spectacular events in the Old Testament; I believe in the power of God for all the miracles that marked Jesus’ life and the lives of the apostles as recorded in the New Testament.

    But where is the power of God evident in the kingdom of God today? I certainly haven’t experienced any of those kinds of miracles in my life. Have I missed something huge? Have I claimed a faith that I don’t really have?

    Twice, Jesus said that those who have faith would do greater things than the things recorded in the New Testament. No one would argue that John the Baptist had a powerful ministry, yet Jesus said this: “Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” And of his own powerful ministry: “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these…” (John 14:12)

    So the question remains: what is the power of the kingdom of God? And what are the greater things that people of faith are doing?

    The answer lies in another verse: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13) The great purpose of Jesus is to give us a life-transforming hope to light our inner beings and to give us joy, peace, and purpose for living each day as well as a great hope for the future.

    The deposit of that hope in you and me is there by the power of God. This hope is not “unfounded optimism;” it is not a hope conjured up by our own efforts or based on circumstances. It is God’s gift to us and it will not disappoint us (Isaiah 49:23). Sharing this hope in a world of little hope is the greatest thing anyone can do. And that is the power of the kingdom of God.

  4. what a great reminder to wait on God for His timing…how often do we use our own words rather than fast and pray for God’s anointed word!!!

    “…Jesus as her last hope. I wish she would have known that He was her only hope all along. I wish they would have told her in church. I wish her spiritual leaders spoke of Him and not merely of religious rules and empty tradition.” AMEN AMEN AMEN!!!

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