David, SP staff in Lincoln Heights, reflects on the faithful, reconciling love of Christ through a mother-daughter relationship being redeemed.
God has given us much-needed encouragement in the midst of the Kingdom work here in East Los Angeles.
Natalie* is a young adult in our church who first came to Jesus through our youth group a couple years before my family moved into the neighborhood. She grew up in a housing project on the outskirts of Lincoln Heights with a family of five other siblings to immigrant parents who work hard to make ends meet. Growing up has been a battle for her as she has weathered the temptations of the world and pressure from her peers while trying to remain true to Jesus.
Since she started attending church, a continual thread that continued to dodge her was an unresolved relationship with her mother. As the eldest daughter, Natalie was held to different expectations than her younger siblings; in addition, her mother persecuted Natalie for going to church. Natalie would share how she would bristle under her mother’s thumb and how this relationship was a source of significant conflict to the point where she moved out for a season. Yet, the Lord kept drawing Natalie back to her mom. Now as young woman, Natalie is working to provide for the family while finishing college.
Through it all, Jesus was faithful to Natalie, and she has become a young woman of deep convictions, honesty, and empathy. This year, Natalie decided that she wanted to stop playing games with Jesus and go “all-in” with Him as she committed to joining our church’s Discipleship School. Jesus loved and affirmed Natalie through the church, and she has been persevering in ways that make us proud as a church! She’s been surrendering to God through submitting to authority, something that has been difficult for her given her relationship with her mother. She has begun to enjoy added favor at work, being entrusted with responsibilities that older coworkers have not received. Her mother noticed the real changes happening in Natalie.
Natalie was amazed when she told me her mom wanted to join our church retreat this year! This was something for which we as a church had prayed for nearly a decade! At the church retreat this past spring (pictured above), Natalie led a small group of young women, and Natalie’s mom opened up in one of our small group of Spanish speakers. Natalie’s mom now wants to invite Natalie’s dad to the retreat next year. I see God honoring Natalie’s surrender, and it has been awesome!
*name changed to protect privacy