Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Expose (08/22/13)
TITLE: From the Bridge to Glory
By Debbie Swain
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“I love you, O Lord, my Strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in Whom I take refuge.” Psalm 18:1-2
God forever changed my life, for the better, on April 22, 2012. He sent me a dear friend named Vanessia who taught me how to depend on God and EXPECT Him to answer prayers. The journey over the next ten months exposed my husband and me to a life we knew very little about. Vanessia was a homeless person who lived under Savannah’s largest bridge. We later found out that her exposure to the elements had caused serious health issues. She came to the park this particular Sunday afternoon to help with the Clothes Closet Ministry and to eat dinner that was being served by our Sunday School class. For weeks, Vanessia had prayed that God would send her someone who could help her, help herself. Vanessia knew God would supply her needs. When you live under a bridge, GOD is your ONLY HOPE. Her strong faith was amazing. What a blessing God gave us through our friendship with Vanessia. On February 6, 2013, Vanessia went to be with the Lord after losing her battle with lung cancer.
I saw Vanessia placing clothes on a table so I introduced myself and wanted to find out where we could recycle clothing for their ministry. She replied, “Oh, I don’t work here, I am homeless.” That was hard to believe because she looked like those of us from church. She said, “Just because you are homeless, you don’t have to look like it.” I liked her attitude. We began talking and exchanged contact information. Little did I know, a week later we would be preparing her to go to a nearby town for a job that GOD had supplied. We were part of the answer to Vanessia’s prayers. We were God’s instruments in helping supply her job. She went to live with a dear Christian lady named Miss Sally, who had Alzheimer’s. Miss Sally and Vanessia quickly became very close. Miss Sally’s family also loved Vanessia. She let them know she had been homeless. Her poor breathing condition became worse during her first month with Miss Sally. She was rushed to the hospital late one evening and was diagnosed with lung cancer and the expectation of 6-12 months to live. The months living under the bridge had taken its toll on her body. The pollution and auto emissions exposure had damaged her lungs beyond repair.
In the pursuing months, after being hospitalized several times, God supplied another great need. Vanessia was able to live in a local health center for several months. We had many visits at the Cancer Center and during some of her chemo treatments. I gave her one of my Bibles and she read it every day. Our bond of friendship was very strong because we could be very honest with each other. We laughed a lot, cried a lot and sometimes got mad with each other. We could always be honest and maybe have to say we were sorry. The honesty and candor made our bond even stronger. Vanessia said our Sunday School class had helped her know how real God is. I assured her the only difference in us was that we had a different address.
I was with Vanessia the day her Radiologist told her another tumor had appeared and there was nothing more they could do. What compassion the doctor had as he hugged her and let her cry. God supplied such a wonderful staff at the hospital. Vanessia amazed them all and they loved her very much.
There was a lovely memorial service for her and those who gave a testimony shared how much they loved Vanessia and how strong her faith was. One of the nurses at the health center where she lived, gave a testimony. She too was amazed at Vanessia’s faith. She said, “Vanessia would always say, “Miss Connie, don’t worry about me. God is taking care of me and I am going to be alright.” Vanessia knew that IF GOD didn’t take care of her, she had no one to help her. She expected God to do the impossible and she saw Him do JUST THAT over and over. Vanessia taught each of us that her EXPECTATION was in God and that HE would answer her prayers and take care of her as HE had promised!
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