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From Chola to Christ

David, Servant Partners staff in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, shares about a woman in their discipleship school who has been transformed by God. 

I’d like to share with you a story of a sister in Jesus from “the hood” that I’ve gotten the pleasure to get to know more through the discipleship school that I help run at our church, New Life Community Church in Lincoln Heights. She has inspires and challenges me in fresh way. Nora was basically raised by the streets of Los Angeles. She was a hardcore “chola” gangster that has been notorious in our neighborhood. She has been in and out of prison and has had multiple near death experiences. She swears like a sailor, she’s straight up, and she is known to instill fear in people. But God’s hand is on her life. 

She’s been wanting to join the discipleship school for a while. We had our reservations but it was clear God was directing her this way, and it’s been amazing. She’s talked about Jesus to friends and family a lot before but now she is starting to submit her life to Jesus’ Lordship. People are noticing. In the middle of a family birthday party her hardened adult niece, struggling with leukemia, challenged Nora to pray her. Nora reluctantly did. Then Nora “got touched” (her word for crying when she feels the presence of God, because she rarely allows herself to feel) and her niece was moved. So moved that she dragged Nora to pray for her mom too.

Nora was baptized this past April along with her daughter, who has been moved by the change she sees in her mom.

In June, Nora, I, the rest of the discipleship school, and some of their children are going to visit the Dominican Republic and participate in the Kingdom work that our sister church is doing there. Once Nora heard the challenge for us to fundraise for the mission trip (and in her case not just for her but for two of her own children she is bringing along), this former gang member stepped out with incredible faith. She randomly asks folks that she comes across to “sponsor” her mission trip. She has received donations from her husband’s supervisor, the pest control man in her building, and even a random person from Georgia that she emailed through Craigslist. (Please know, I didn’t tell students to do this!)

Last week she asked her insurance agent to support the mission trip and he broke down and asked for prayer for his twin brother (who was standing right next to him) who is going through health issues. She prayed for them right there in the office.

This past Tuesday we went out in the neighborhood to offer to pray for folks at a local park. Nora challenged me with her boldness to offer to pray for people and even reminded me to “go for it” when I was hesitant in approaching some. Through our time praying for people together a women felt the “warmth” of God as Nora prayed for her breathing issues and another woman was completely healed of knee pain from her chemotherapy (from pain level eight to zero!). This woman was so shocked and full of joy as she was moving her leg back and forth. Nora found herself hugging these strangers, something she would never have done before!

Nora’s faith, and folks such as these in our working class community, puts me to shame. Nora not only knows the King but is now submitting herself to His Kingdom...and it's awe-inspiring! 

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