Tough Times, Hard Questions

Part 1 of Rita’s Story

By Angie Wagoner

Note: The name of the woman in this article has been change to protect her identity.

It was late in the day. I was exhausted but the Christmas project was about to come to a close, so rest was in the near future. Even though my body was tired, I was thanking God for the results of the Christmas project; thankful for the six salvation’s and that we were able to supply so many more gifts than we had anticipated. I noticed the blinking light on the phone indicating a voicemail. To answer or not to answer, that was the question of the moment. I pressed the button and my heart dropped as I heard the words of a very angry lady. I sat in my office chair stunned at the accusations of belittling her during a recent food appointment. What I had said and what she had heard were two very different things. After praying, I knew I had no choice but to call and try to explain.

The phone rang three times. My heart was pounding. Rita picked up the phone. I told her who I was and how very sorry I was that I had upset her. She said that I had asked her if she went to church anywhere and when she asked about the local church having a children’s ministry, I suggested a church closer to her house. From that, Rita concluded that I didn’t want her to go to church with me. I was able to share that I don’t attend that particular church and so I wasn’t trying to keep her out of my church but to find something closer to where she lived.  This would make it easier for her to get there. She quickly settled down and said that she sometimes lets her mind run away with her, especially since things have gotten so bad with the loss of her husband. She shared that her daughter is in rehab and she is trying to raise the grandchildren.

“Life is hard for me right now,” she explained.“I haven’t been with anyone since my husband, but when there isn’t any food at the end of the month and I have had offers, I am tempted. Sometimes, I am lonely too.”

The next question was as shocking to me as the voicemail. I will have to change a few words for this article, but she asked me if I knew what the Bible said about harlots. Totally unaware of where this was going, I wasn’t sure how to answer. Should I talk about the Ten Commandments or God’s forgiveness? So I shared both. I told Rita that God’s word was plain about adultery and premarital sex. Then I shared about the woman at the well and Rahab, the prostitute. She listened and then told me that she was considering prostitution. “I haven’t been with anyone since my husband, but when there isn’t any food at the end of the month and I have had offers, I am tempted. Sometimes, I am lonely, too.” I shared that God promises to provide for the needs of His children. Through tears, we prayed together.

After the holidays, I call Rita to check on her. She sounded so different and thanked me for calling to check on her. Even with the flu, she wanted to share with me about the song “Changed” by Rascal Flatts. “The first time I heard it I thought of what you told me.” Rita wanted me to find the song and the video that went with it to see what she was talking about. Here are a few of the words.

“I’m changed for the better
More smiles, less bitter
I’m even starting to forgive myself
I hit my knee, I’m here I stand
There I was, now here I am
Here I am, Here I am, Here I am
Yes I am
I’m changed for the better.
Thank God I’m changed.”

As soon as she gets over the flu, she says she wants to go to church with me. This is just the beginning of this story. Stay tuned for part two. In the meantime, pray for Rita and others like her.