I think this woman changed my life.
I can't seem to find any pictures of her . . . but let's see if I can't show you how amazing she is with my words. Truly she is someone who let the love of Jesus capture her years ago and it continues to impact her life daily. Jen translated her story for us, so I will try to tell it as far as I understood it.
Tia Anna was molested for many years when she was very young by her uncle, her father's brother. One day her dad discovered what was happening and threw Anna out of the house. She was only seven. Her mother was powerless to help. Anna lived on the streets as a prostitute for years. Survival was the goal - she carried around a gun and a knife.
When Tia Anna was thirteen, a woman named Gladys started pursuing her. Anna was mad, repulsed, upset . . . she did not like Gladys and told her that without hesitation for 3 years. For 3 years Gladys pursued this girl. She visited her apartment. She found her at the bars. She brought her home and cleaned her up when she was drunk. Tia Anna yelled at her - "Leave me alone!" but Gladys wouldn't leave her alone. Gladys would tell Anna, "My Father loves you." Tears came to my eyes every time Jen translated that phrase during the story. Tia Anna could not imagine a father who would love her. Gladys kept reminding her.
When she turned 16, Gladys threw a birthday party for Tia Anna. (I guess they were on speaking terms at this point.) They had a time of worship during the party. And Jesus met Tia Anna. Anna said that she fell on her knees during the service and just started to weep. She cried for the first time in many years (over 10 years?). For the first time she felt peace and His presence, the presence of her true & faithful Father. That night she slept without her gun & knife - peace overwhelmed her life. Tia Anna has since been reconciled with her parents and God has provided a husband for her.
Today Tia Anna runs an orphanage for children, many whose mothers are prostitutes and cannot take care of them. God has provided opportunity time & again for her to minister to children - I believe 62 kids over the past 30+ years. Right now there are 8 children at the orphanage. Tuesday & Wednesday morning we visited there: played with the children (crafts & jumped rope), heard Tia Anna's story, cleaned the kitchen, ironed clothes, helped with homework, etc. I helped to clean out the refrigerator on the second day and I do believe it looked brand new by the time we were done. On Friday we were able to purchase a clothes washer for Tia Anna, since the one she had just broke and she was doing all of the children's laundry by hand.
I wrote this in my journal that evening, "Gladys was the part of the story that really stuck out to me and touched me. This woman pursued Anna for 3 years and wouldn't give up on her. . . . Jesus, would you please give me a passion like Anna's? Some area of ministry that I love? . . . I want her passion for living and her joy in serving Jesus. Lord, please make me like Tia Anna and Gladys." Make me like them because they are like Jesus.
Pictures to come...