Did you know that God is an Efficiency Expert?
My attention was drawn to the conference room door. She entered so regally dressed in her country’s ethnic attire that her petite frame appeared seven feet tall. Her bright almond shaped eyes were wide with anticipation. Her lying smile said, “I am so glad to be here.”
She was one of the guest speakers for the leadership program day entitled: “Living below the Poverty Line.” One of the program committee members ushered her to a seat next to me. I was her host until her time to speak. I smiled a smile that I hoped said, “Don’t be nervous”. She smiled in returned.
She was one of three women scheduled to share their stories of surviving below the poverty line in one of the richest counties in the United States. Every month this year-long leadership program addressed one of the major issues facing the county.
It was her turn to speak. As tall as she could make herself, she walked up to the podium and humbly told her story about her unforeseen journey from riches to rags, from power to pain and into to her present.
Her story was almost as colorful as her African outfit. Briefly, she was the wife of an African diplomat and thus had lived a very affluent life in her country. She had been chief of surgical nursing in the largest hospital in her city. Her husband was transferred to Washington DC. She followed with their two sons at the end of the school year. She had packed her boys, their home and art treasures and left everyone and everything familiar to her to join her husband in a foreign land.
The beatings began about a month after her arrival. She had successfully set up their lovely new home in Northern Virginia and enrolled the boys in private school. When her husband raised his hand to her sons, the “survival mother” rose up. She and her sons escaped in the family van late at night. They lived in the van for a week until a police officer warned her that her boys would be taken from her if she did not find a place to live. That was a tall order. Her money was about to run out. Her family in Africa had counseled her to go back to her husband. She knew better. And luckily her husband had not used his resources to find them. He was a proud man.
God, the master of suddenly, sent an angel in the form of the owner of the McDonald’s where she and the boys ate daily after school. He took them to a homeless shelter, a foreign concept to them. Each day when the boys went to school the mother looked for work. Her surgical nursing credentials from Africa were not accepted in the United States. The best she could do was a job as a nurse’s aide. She was grateful and she worked hard. The shelter staff found an apartment for her family in one of the county’s low-income subsidized housing units. That was their current address.
She was humble and grateful for the survival of her family. She took her seat to applause and many teary eyes in the audience. Everyone in that room had been exposed first hand to information they had previously only read about. They had received so much more than words.
At lunch, the mother trusted me enough, or maybe she could no longer hold her backstory inside, and she quietly told me:
“Daily her boys were latch key (home alone) children after school for three hours until she came home from work. The boys were five and seven years old and had become independent out of necessity. One day she did not come home. There was a huge snow event and roads were blocked. She ran out of gas like many others on the road and her cell phone battery went dead.”
For the next eighteen hours, we cannot know what happened in the hearts and minds of her boys as they feared their only lifeline, their mother, was dead. We can only imagine. We do know the boys suffered emotional trauma and extreme separation anxiety. They needed a psychological intervention, another foreign concept to them, to make their way back to normality.
“At night as a family, they could not snuggle up in bed and comfort one another because there was none. The day after they moved into the apartment, the entire building had been treated for bed bug infestation. All fabric covered furniture, mattresses and beds had been removed. They had only a kitchen table and chairs and a coffee table in the living room. They did not know to request help or from whom. The three of them had been cuddling on the floor at night for months.”
I felt tormented and anxious hearing this. At the end of the “Living below the Poverty Line” program day, I challenged the class participants with a “call to action” based on the mother’s story.
Before we left for the day, God’s divine efficiency had taken over. Compassion and generosity were the order of the day. Volunteer donations completely furnished two bedrooms, kitchen and living room, with accessories of rugs, lamps, and a computer for the boys; books, blankets, dishes, pots and pans and a bike. One gentleman offered one his business trucks to do pickup and delivery. One of the county’s school board members arranged to get the boys in an afterschool program within their school.
Here’s the icing on the cake. Two realtors offered to stage (decorate) the apartment. They arranged with the apartment manager to allow us to come in after the boys and mother left for the day to deliver furniture and decorate. I have a video of the family coming home to their miracle. I watched God’s joy light up in the boy’s eyes. I watched a mother’s faith in God restored. We were all blessed.
This is what I know. We all have friends unseen. We can eject despair with love. The greatest gift is in the giving. In the height of the storm, we are not alone. Faith is a verb that works, and most importantly God is an efficiency expert.
When was the last time you watched God execute his divine efficiency?Until next time, remember,
You are not alone.
You are not your circumstances.
You have everything within you to live a purpose-filled life.