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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Expose (08/22/13)

TITLE: From the Bridge to Glory
By Debbie Swain


From the Bridge to Glory

“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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This article has been read 163 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Larry Whittington08/29/13
Very kind thought towards your friend.

When there are more than one main thought or idea in a paragraph, you can separate them into two separate paragraphs.

A short paragraphs with one important thought can be powerful.

Keep writing and also being God's hand in helping others.
C D Swanson 08/29/13
Wow- what an amazing story. Vanessia sounded like an incredible lady. Praise the Lord for sending her friends such as yourself, and the others who she was in contact with.

This story touched my heart, thank you for sharing this.

God bless you~
Jodi Gardner08/29/13
Thank you for this beautiful piece. As a former counselor at a Christian rescue mission, your dear testimony touched a very deep part of my soul. I became so wrapped up in the story, I couldn't have noticed if every other word was spelled incorrectly or not. To me, that is what makes a writer powerful...catching the audiences attention. You did just that!
Bonnie Bowden 08/29/13
Powerful testimony and witness to the work God does in and through us. Your story really touched my heart. Thank you for sharing it.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/30/13
This is a beautiful testimony. It's easy to see why people fell in love with Vanessa. What a wonderful reminder for those of us who have home and family, but grumble over little things, forgetting to give thanks for little and big things.

Remember to start a new paragraph when someone different is speaking. I noticed you did use the word expose once, but if I didn't know the topic I think I would have guess expect. It's not always easy to write on topic. I'd encourage you to check out Jan's Writing Basics on the forums. She has some great tips up there now, plus I remember a lesson when she talked about writing on topic. I've learned a great deal from others at FW who have been willing to share their expertise with me.

You did a nice job of bringing Vanessa to life. I live in a rural area where being homeless is almost unheard of. You opened my eyes to a new culture. We definitely shouldn't judge others. One of my favorite sayings is But for the grace of God go I. Your piece really emphasized that point to me and I took a minute to thank God for all the wonderful in my life and a prayer for all the Vanessa's of the world.
PamFord Davis 08/30/13
Such a touching story. Thanks for opening your heart and opening my eyes to the needs of the homeless. I once had a friend who was homeless, a godly and patriotic man who was able to get back on his feet, find employment, a vehicle and then an apartment. Keep sharing your experiences through writing!

Wing His Words
Jan Ackerson 08/30/13
What an inspiration Vannesia was! And how blessed you were to have her in your life!

One of the hardest things in the challenge is to write on topic. You mentioned the word "expose" a few times, but it wasn't really essential to your story. I also think it would be stronger with more dialogue, so that we could get to "know" Vannesia better.

This is a strong story for this level, and I enjoyed reading it.
Dannie Hawley 09/04/13
Incredible story! It sounds like it could be true? If it is, you might want to indicate that with an author's note at the end of the article. Just space down one line or two and add it as a note. When I began writing challenge articles, I assumed people would know it was true, but they didn't and was asked to indicate so I pass that tip along to you.

I'm thinking that the topic is carried in this article through your exposure to the homeless lady, and what she had to teach you, as well as the ladies homeless status and her exposure to the harsh elements of her living situation, phyysically and how folks viewed the homeless. That works for me, anyway.

I love that your friend had someone like you to be with her at just the right time in her life. Shows us all how God has His eye on us! Thanks for sharing.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/05/13
Congratulations for ranking 8th in your level! (The highest rankings can be found on the forums)