Light for Darkened Alleys

For many, the presence of sin in their lives is an idea that is staunchly resisted. After all, no one wishes to feel evil or desperate. But for others, the course of their life brings undeniable awareness of the severity of the human condition. Such is the framework for JC’s story.

JC’s discovery of her need for a Savior began at an early age. Without the luxury of a godly or stable home, JC was exposed to human depravity in her youth. Abuse was a normality, and thus became a foundation for a life of self-abuse.

"When she was in her late teens, she put down the Bible, not to pick it up again for over 20 years."

As a kid, JC’s parents dropped her off at Sunday School, but Christ remained a stranger. She had little assistance in cultivating the Spirit of Christ, and without any guidance, she soon lost her way. Trying to read Scripture on her own only brought frustration and anger. When she was in her late teens, she put down the Bible, not to pick it up again for over 20 years. By her own admission, JC was guilty of many things, and none of the labels she accumulated throughout the years - thief, adulterer, murderer, alcoholic, drug abuser – brought her any sense of happiness or significance. They only brought despair.

In 2013, she began living in a motel room to avoid homelessness and provide shelter for her then four-and-a-half-year-old daughter. When authorities discovered methamphetamines in her room, JC was arrested, and her little girl was turned over to Child Protective Services. This motel room proved fateful in many ways, as it was from this room that JC stole for the last time; not contraband or something commercially valuable, but a Gideon-placed Bible. In the days following her release, JC neither sought out the same old vices that had previously controlled her life, nor any new vices to distract her from her desolation. She simply began to read.

Soon, JC found herself living in an alley between an Alcoholics Anonymous office and a vacuum cleaner repair shop. Both were owned by Gideons. These men began to form relationships with JC, and she was welcomed into the repair shop each morning for coffee and fellowship. The men taught and encouraged JC, and under their care, she flourished. Through the revelation provided by Scripture and the influence of the men on whose doorsteps she lived, JC began to be transformed. She stopped using substances of any sort, began attending AA meetings, and endeavored to fill the void in her life with Christ rather than chemicals. Though JC had very few worldly comforts, she was at last receiving shelter from the destruction that defined her entire life.

"In her destitution, JC saw clearly, and where every earthly treasure was removed, there she found the greatest treasure of all."

In 2015, JC lost her father and any access to her daughter. Nevertheless, she would describe 2015 as the best year of her life. This counterintuitive claim comes only from the power of Christ to bring joy even in the most abysmal situations. As JC said herself, quoting Nehemiah: “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” In her destitution, JC saw clearly, and where every earthly treasure was removed, there she found the greatest treasure of all.

Though JC’s story may not have a happy ending as many may define it, she would say otherwise. JC has spent much of her life addicted and enslaved to sin, but no longer. She is no more a felon according to the law, but far more significantly, she is no longer an enemy of her Maker. She is grateful to the God who never counted her a criminal though her crimes were many, and today her life is marked by obedience instead of rebellion. JC lost many things in her life, some never to be regained, but she has gained the only thing that can never be lost - the salvation of Jesus Christ.

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