“Should I Not Care About These Too?”

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Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

11But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?” (Jonah 4:11, New International Version)

Love this! For the past couple of weeks, the Lord has had me fascinated with the Book of Jonah—a brief but powerfully dramatic four chapter book written by the prophet Jonah, nestled between two other Old Testament prophets, Obadiah and Micah. I’ve read, reread and pink highlighted various verses within the four chapters, brimming with greater excitement and understanding of our Lord’s compassion at each new reading. Certainly, most if not everyone even if they are not a Believer is familiar with what seems the central part of the story and that is Jonah being swallowed by a great fish and living in the fish’s belly for three days. Many children’s books and other published works have captured this aspect of this prophet’s seeming misfortune to spend three days (but survive) in the fish’s stinky belly. But I have learned even more and am in love with what the Lord has revealed to me and what is likely clear to you if you’ve read the four chapters.

To recap, Jonah was a prophet whom God called to preach in the ancient, historical Assyrian city of Nineveh located in Upper Mesopotamia and is today known as part of the outskirts of Mosul, Iraq. In that time of 612 BC, those in Nineveh worshiped many gods and goddesses, primarily the Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar , who promised love, beauty, sex, desire, fertility, war, combat, and political power, to those who called upon her. The Lord seeing all of the debauchery, idolatry and sin taking place, said to Jonah in 1:2, “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”  The people’s sin was creating a great stench before a Holy God.

Hearing the Lord’s word instructed to him, Jonah instead ran away from the LORD and headed for the far away city of Tarshish—literally to get as far away from Nineveh as possible. Who doesn’t cringe in having to give a word at times to people who are walking in sheer disobedience? How would Jonah be received in delivering this word? How are you received when delivering a hard word to someone who is rebellious? I know in times that I’ve lovingly but boldly delivered a ‘hard word’ to someone, it has been sometimes well-received with contriteness and humility by that person, and other times it has been brushed off and rejected like shewing away a pestering fly.

Jonah_Away_from_Nineveh

Eventually we know in reading the chapters that in the process of Jonah fleeing the Lord’s instructions, he boards a ship in Joppa to sail to Tarshish. The Lord sends a great and terrible storm upon the seas in which the shipmen throw Jonah overboard (with Jonah’s permission) because they knew he was running from God and the storm came upon them because of his disobedience. The sea immediately calmed once Jonah was thrown overboard and then being scooped up by the fish. Three days later, Jonah is spit up by the great fish onto dry land and he delivers the Lord’s warning to the people of Nineveh he was to render three days ago (Chapter 3). Jonah says to them in chapter 3:4, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.”

Verse 5 reads that “The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least put on sackcloth.” In response to their immediate repentance, verse 10 reads that “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.”

Wait a minute. Weren’t they about to be destroyed by God for idol worship, all out wickedness and every kind of evil living possible? Nineveh was also Israel’s enemy. By Chapter 4:1-2, Jonah is feeling some kind of way about God’s compassionate response toward a wayward people and he tells God exactly how he is feeling.

1But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. 2He prayed  to the LORD, “O, LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” In verse 4, the LORD replies, “Have you any right to be angry?”

I LOVE THIS! I imagine this scenario similar to a co-worker who has been goofing off, messing up and you can’t WAIT for them to GET IT from the boss, possibly even be fired. Or imagine you have a sibling who keeps being disobedient and you can’t WAIT for mom, dad, grandma or auntie to yank them up! And yet, with a warning, the co-worker straightens up and no punishment is brought upon them. The sibling apologizes for their behavior and no punishment comes to them, no grounding, or phone or television privileges taken away. You might be fuming as Jonah was recognizing that you’ve been living right, these people haven’t and God seems to let them off easy. This is the real reason why Jonah tried to avoid delivering God’s instruction because He knew of God’s great compassion.

I am in love with the Lord’s response to Jonah in Chapter 4:11, which speaks to how much the LORD loves us, strives with us, extends deep longsuffering (patience) with us, not desiring that any should perish: “But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”

god-s-love-never-changes

I believe the God of Jonah’s time and our same God of today looks at us with that same compassionate heart. God even gave Jonah another chance to come out of HIS DISOBEDIENCE for him to deliver His instructions to the people of Nineveh! Amazing!

Today, God continues to send His People to warn and instruct those walking in spiritual blindness on paths of destruction; walking in ways they think good but are not. In His great, unfathomable compassion, God sends us to pray for, warn, instruct, intercede for others in hopes they will turn to the light of Christ Jesus and be loosed from the grips of darkness.

Yes, God’s wrath will come upon those He is no longer striving with because they are unrepentant and have chosen their own paths of destruction, not desiring truth (If you read Nahum, the Lord’s anger rises again toward Nineveh promising destruction because of their partaking in wickedness). God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy (Romans 9:15), which in His infinite wisdom and purposes will be a mystery to us. For those He is still reaching out to who will listen—who are blind not knowing their right from their left but hear and believe His Voice and immediately feel contrite and repent of their ways—He is compassionate.

This says so much about our God and how He has held back what could deservedly be His full wrath upon us many, many times ago. He has lived through generations upon generations of mankind’s disobedience, with more than 7 billion personalities today who may or may not choose His ways. More than 7 billion personalities who require daily patience. Could you or I extend such mercy and compassion to two or three people repeatedly, let alone more than 7 billion?

loveofgod

If the 120,000 people who God had His eye and heart set on in Nineveh were so precious to Him, I know then, so are we. In sharing the Gospel, may we extend a God-like compassion and warning toward those walking in blind disobedience so they may turn away from impending destruction. May we have a heart for the harvest.

-Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

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Hurricane Harvey: Shaping a New Narrative?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Hurricane Harvey. A devastating Category 4 hurricane that hammered eastern Texas last week. Floodwaters reached unprecedented levels of approximately 50 inches as the storm lingered over the areas of Houston, Beaumont and Port Arthur, Dickinson, Corpus Christi, Rockport and Victoria, causing catastrophic flooding. In the storm’s wake, the aftermath is heartbreaking. More than 50 lives lost and likely more as receding flood waters reveal bodies that succumbed to the storm. Waters up to street signs that contain more than eight times the allowed limit of e coli (should be 0), fecal bacteria, crocodiles, snakes, floating colonies of biting fire ants, possibility of infections, diarrhea, skin diseases; the threat of electrocution from live wires unseen, let alone the dangers of driving and being pulled under deeper waters.

These and other issues have weighed upon my and your heart this past week in praying for Texas and now portions of Louisiana. More than 37,000 homes lost, businesses destroyed, possessions no longer, thousands of people rescued and displaced are trying to live in what is their “now.” Who knows what will come next, as the living seek to bury their loved ones (How will this occur with so much under water?), what about work, school, health care needs, basic needs, etc.?

Hurricane-Harvey-Houston-Texas-helping-Getty-640x480

Getty Images

 

Hurricane Harvey Cnn

Photo credit: CNN.com

In all of this devastation and what will be weeks, months and likely years of recovery and rebuilding, we are witnessing profound unity. People are helping one another regardless of one’s ideologies, political affiliations and leanings, no matter who voted for who, we are seeing people of all backgrounds and races coming together. This is a stark contrast to the tragedy that occurred in Charlottesville, Va., only weeks before.

Amid the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, we are seeing goodness, kindness, and love in action—at least three of the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit as depicted in Galatians 5:22-23. The narrative of race that dominated in Charlottesville, a quite different narrative of love is coming forth in very challenging and life-altering circumstances. In the grief, this narrative is a welcomed relief and hope.  A hope that some day conversations about race will no longer dominate or be considered necessary. That conversations about God’s ability to show His Presence in the hearts of others, His ability to mend brokenness, the Godly words and actions of others will become our new narrative.

Hurricane Harvey police officers rescue elderly woman

Photo credit: NY Daily News

hurricane-harvey-harris-county time magazine

Photo credit: Time Magazine

With such a new and inspiring narrative, what will the others have to talk about or criticize next if race relations is no longer a topic requiring fuel to keep it burning on hearts and lips? Or a pot continually stirred by media commentators or even in the pulpit?

King Jesus, thank You, thank You for showing us You in so many facets.

“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:45-48, NIV).

What we have seen in Houston and the surrounding region is an area of hope in the face of worldwide evil. Wickedness remains, and certainly after the immediate crises have been stabilized and addressed in Hurricane Harvey, some people may resort to their old ungodly ways. However, I do believe hearts were permanently transformed in this event by seeing the love of God on display.

In the world’s darkness, may Believers continue to be light and love. May we continue to imitate Christ and watch as some of the negative narratives fall away and are replaced with Godly ones. More is expected from the followers of Christ to allow Christ within us to reshape the narratives. May we continue to be proven as His Children to a skeptical world.

Our prayers, love and support continue to be with those impacted by Hurricane Harvey. We also pray blessings of health, protection and safety for those rendering aid on the ground.

-Nicole

An Appeal When Love Wanes and Anger Flames

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Terence Crutcher, 40, was shot and killed last Friday by Tulsa police officer, Betty Shelby. Crutcher’s SUV had stalled in the middle of the road and police arrived to address the situation. Crutcher, a large black man, threw his hands up as police approached (to show he was not a threat) but was still tasered, shot and later died at the hospital. Husband. Father. Brother. Unarmed black man. Another one, again.

I was angrier than I’ve felt in some time in learning this news story yesterday. Another unarmed black man shot and killed by a white police officer. The egregious incident, captured on a police dashboard camera, shows Crutcher with his hands up. Officer Shelby is under federal investigation.

Many are angry. We’re inflamed by the injustice of it all. We’re in disbelief that another black man has been taken away from his family like this. In their anger, many have lost their love for others, particularly a number of blacks toward whites. But this response further divides us and plays right into Satan’s ploy. As more Believers grow into the image of Christ, Satan is trying to derail the light of the Church. He seeks to cause division and dissension to where unity cannot be forged. We reject that in Jesus’ Mighty Name!

In recognizing the signs of the end of the age, Matthew 24:12 (NIV) warns us:

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.

This is happening now, among some Believers. 

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And Matthew 24:13 encourages us:

but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

My appeal to all who read this: 

As the crises increase in frequency and intensity, when justice seems elusive and our very lives seem to be under siege, we have an even greater opportunity to display Godly character.  We should be the hands and feet of Christ, serving one another in love; to not lose our love for one another, to not allow our love to grow cold toward others. God’s love demonstrated is exactly what the world desperately needs. Those who are children of God, we are called to manifest His love to others:

This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. (1 John 3:10, NIV)

As a dear sister in Christ reminded me:

Proverbs 4:23: Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (NIV)

My appeal to you: In our thirst for justice to be rendered, let’s maintain our love for one another. Keep your hope, Godly character and faith. Don’t become disheartened and drift away from Him but rather, draw nearer and cleave to Him more. Others need to see His Light in us! If we lose our love toward others, then sadly, we’ve drifted away from our first love: Jesus Christ.

My appeal to you: Remember how the story ends: love/good wins over evil in the end. Satan knows this too. Though he is already defeated, he hopes to make you forget your victory already won.

Lord Jesus, we need You. Our hearts are grieved again by the injustice that has occurred here. Forgive us for our words, thoughts and actions that have not displayed Your Love. Though we are angered by this situation, let it not pull us out of Godly character. Renew a right spirit within us, dear Lord. Create in us a clean heart, for You are holy and require us to be as well. Lord, may we desire to stay close to You, so we can truly be Your hands and feet to others in this sinful and perishing world. So long as we keep You, Jesus, as our first love, our love for others will not grow cold. 

Jesus, please comfort the Crutcher Family in their loss, and all those affected. We pray for the police officer involved, that she would accept responsibility for her actions; that she would seek You to transform her heart and renew her mind so she may truly love and serve others in Your way.  We pray healing for Tulsa and all communities devastated by such actions. Thank you, Jesus. 

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

-Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

Opportunities in Darkness

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Yesterday, we were delighted to return to the radio airwaves after approximately a year’s hiatus. The one-year break from producing our weekly, 1-hour radio show was needed. The time allowed each of us to sow to other ministry activities, pull away from some activities as seasons ended and draw even closer to God to seek His best for us. In addition, the time allowed us to retool a couple things. For example, after considering feedback received from some listeners and ministry team members, I decided to shorten our radio show from one hour to 30 minutes.

In Wednesday’s discussion topic, “What Is Going On: A Conversation,” I reviewed some of the darkest events of 2015 to present day that have sorrowed us (ex: Charleston church shooting, terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, America’s epidemic of mass shootings, etc.). All of the events, distressing, can make us ask, “What is going on??”

During our conversation, I shared Jesus’ reassuring words told to us in such times from John 16:33- “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” I also noted that though we are living in unsteady times, we can remain steady in God’s Word so we can help steady others. This also draws us closer to Him.

 

ca. 2001 --- Sky over Wheat Plants --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

While the events have been sobering and heartbreaking, I am persuaded that there are abundant OPPORTUNITIES available in such darkness. In fact, for those of us in Christ Jesus, it presents great OPPORTUNITIES for us to be LIGHT. The harvest is plentiful!

Evil hopes for our indifference, laziness, retreat to pursue comfort and a self-centered focus on me and mine. However, as the Body of Christ, we are not called to retreat but to ENGAGE and show others Christ’s love. It’s God’s mercy, His love, His grace, our prayers, actions, light, love that helps stem the tide of evil. The question is, are you willing? Jesus has need of you!

May we be reminded and encouraged by Christ’s victory obtained for us on the Cross! May we be JOYFUL that he overcame evil and this world!

To learn more, listen to “What Is Going On: A Conversation”.

God bless you,

Nicole

Charity: More Joy in Serving the Few or the Masses?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

“The best fruit is not shaken from the tree, but picked by hand, one by one.” –Jerry McAuley (1839-1884), reformed thief and prisoner, founder, The McAuley Water Street Mission in New York City

I know the donation pleas are loading up your email inboxes and mailboxes, all for good causes. In this high season of giving or charity, the aforementioned quote by Jerry McAuley has given me pause.

Hands down, it’s wonderful that many of us give our dollars, resources and time to various organizations to help others in need. Praise God for you and the organizations who are helping to bridge the gaps. May we continue to serve…so long as we’re not placing our joy in and idolizing the numbers (ex: millions served). I’ve become dazzled by the numbers, at times.

As Mr. McAuley’s quote infers, imagine the positive impact you can have on one or a few because you’re able to spend quality time with them.  Your time and presence shows love that will last and very likely assist in shaping their character. McAuley knew full well the power of love’s one-on-one ability to transform. He was a riotous drunkard and vicious robber who was repeatedly in and out of prison, spending seven years in Sing Sing. He later heard the Gospel delivered by a volunteer missionary and was transformed by Christ’s love. Shortly after, the Lord led him to launch the McAuley Mission in New York City in 1872, where men who were drunkards, robbers and the like, came to hear the Gospel and were transformed by Christ’s love.

“Charity” as originally described in this King James Bible version of 1 Corinthians 13:13 means “love”:

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity (love).

When we love others

 

Charity also means to extend benevolence, goodwill or love toward another who is suffering or in need. With time, the word “charity” has taken on the form of campaigns and operations to reach the masses with pleas for donations in order to serve the global masses. Some of these efforts have been subcontracted out to cold edifices like the government as opposed to our one-on-one help that requires time and sometimes uncomfortable conversations. Government may provide (barely) for people’s physical needs, but true philanthropy also provides for one’s spiritual needs.

By expecting the government to fill the gaps (even in broken families—an article for another day), we’ve become far more removed and far too impressed with the fallacy of mass progress. Surely if millions of people are being provided clothing and a meal, all is well, right?

An excerpt from The Tragedy of American Compassion by Marvin Olasky (1992, pg. 129) depicts the problem with this thinking:

‘The National Conference of Charities and Correction (which in 1917 changed its name to the National Conference of Social Work) began to include lectures on how poor housing caused crime and how governmental housing projects would help. The trend was clear: Any time the charitable emphasis moved from the person to the mass and from the souls to stones, government became the popular engine of progress.’

heart-in-handsYes, it’s impressive in marketing materials to say, “We served 10 million people last year and intend to serve an additional 5 million this year.” No one will turn down the help or berate you for being able to serve so many. Although, for those of us in Christ Jesus, as His Ambassadors, may we not idolize the numbers or the operation. May we truly be the hands, feet and heart of Jesus Christ if it is one or two He places in our care to serve for a time. May we find even more joy in caring for the spiritual needs of the hand-picked fruit (if this is His will for you) rather than striving to shake the entire tree.

-Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

Love Unrequited

Proverbs 5:18- Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. (New Living Translation)


Herbert Bowen, Jr.  Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

Herbert Bowen, Jr.
Voices Against the Grain Devotional Writer

It is by the decree of the modern world that marriage is becoming a foreign concept. It is by the decree of the modern world that fear swells up within our throats. It is by the decree of the modern world that marriages are to be as rare as a comet shooting across the midnight sky. Hence, we love, but can’t commit. We arrange, but the plans get delayed. We recoil, but find ourselves with the inability to create warmth. Thus, WE men in the modern world must not be frightened. For how many years will go by before that young lady receives the gift of your true love, which is sacrificial. Ladies, in the modern world, do not be frightened. For you do not have to give yourselves up to keep a man’s attention, because the attention should be captivated by your Spirit. Thus, let us look within our hearts to GIVE rather than to TAKE, it is then that the Lord’s design, will certainly take shape. Amen

About Herbert G. Bowen, Jr.

 

Born in King of Prussia, Pa., Herbert G. Bowen Jr., accepted the Lord Jesus Christ at the tender age of 5. An active member of the Central Church of God in Charlotte, N.C. where he resides, Herbert serves as a youth/discussion group leader, where he has preached and taught Sunday school, as well  as Wednesday night service. In addition, he has preached at Second Baptist Church in Pottstown, Pa., Destiny City Church in Salisbury, N.C.  Herbert is the youngest board member on the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Leadership Council, where he serves to lessen the costs of tuition for African American students. Moreover, Herbert serves on the pureHOPE advisory board, where his commitment to “wait until marriage” fits perfectly with PureHope’s mission to bring a Christian solution to an immoral culture.Finally, Herbert through the will of God writes weekly devotionals to combat the decreasing morality in the 18-30 age group a.k.a., “the transition gap.” This is an effort to re-introduce Jesus Christ to this spiritually starved generation. His devotionals go out to 2,000+ people and continues to grow under the Lord’s watchful eye.  He is a graduate of Purdue University with a degree in Business Management.

Rx for Life: Avoid Foolishness, Show Love, Instruct Truth and Stay the Course

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

I LOVE how God’s Word speaks to all situations—those things passed, present or to come. His Word is a “lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105). God’s Word prepares us so we may remain faithful, loving, steady and empowered among those who are ungodly and those who prefer to chase mirages.  2 Timothy: I love this God-inspired letter written by Paul from prison to encourage his dear friend and apprentice, Timothy. Paul’s letter would equip Timothy to pick up the mantle and carry out the mission, long after Paul’s death. His letter instructed him to resist the foolishness of false teachers and stay the course. CourseStay.250w.tn

Paul’s letter/God’s Word written more than 2,000 years ago, continues to guide my life, the lives of my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, and our respective callings/ministries—very much so here at Voices Against the Grain.  From the Message Bible (love the “give it to us real” verbiage used), here’s 2 Timothy 3 and 2 Timothy 4: a prescription on how to stay the course in this life. 

2 Timothy 3

The Message (MSG)

Difficult Times Ahead

1-5 Don’t be naive. There are difficult times ahead. As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderers, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addicted to lust, and allergic to God. They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals. Stay clear of these people.

6-9 These are the kind of people who smooth-talk themselves into the homes of unstable and needy women and take advantage of them; women who, depressed by their sinfulness, take up with every new religious fad that calls itself “truth.” They get exploited every time and never really learn. These men are like those old Egyptian frauds Jannes and Jambres, who challenged Moses. They were rejects from the faith, twisted in their thinking, defying truth itself. But nothing will come of these latest impostors. Everyone will see through them, just as people saw through that Egyptian hoax.

2 Timothy 4

The Message (MSG)

1-2 I can’t impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule, so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple.

3-5 You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you—keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant.

Your Testimony Will Free Somebody Else

Your testimony, your healing will free somebody else.

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

On Wednesday’s Voices Against the Grain radio show, we heard a powerful testimony of healing and restoration from sexual trauma and self-hatred shared by our blogger/devotional writer, Ana Martinez. For 22 years, she stuffed feelings of shame and guilt, starting with being molested at age 8, statutory rape at age 13, and raped again at 15. Growing up in her parent’s church and loving the Lord, she then walked away from God and His call upon her life. Today, she is a mom and bold woman of God involved in several ministries and has received freedom by sharing her story with others—so they too can heal. The episode, entitled “Christ: Your True Heart Healer, Soul Lover” conveys how deep, wide and unconditional Jesus Christ’s love for us. He is our special Valentine. No matter how horrific and dark your past or present situation, He LOVES YOU more than you can imagine. He died, rose and lives so you may experience true freedom, joy and peace —not bound by things of this world that enslave.

We were joined by Noel Bouché, president of pureHOPE, a ministry that provides Christian solutions in a sexualized culture. Noel discussed how they provide strategies to equip parents to help their children navigate in this digitized world, where images and messages of sexual immorality are rampant. pureHOPE envisions a world free of exploitation and brokenness. As a new partner with pureHOPE, Voices Against the Grain will join them to fight the proliferation of porn and sex trafficking in our society. To win this fight, Jesus Christ is our HOPE.

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Blogger

Ana Martinez, Chef and Voices Against the Grain Blogger

Noel Bouché, President of pureHOPE

Noel Bouché, President of pureHOPE

Immediately following the airing of Wednesday’s show, the calls, emails and text messages poured in from listeners (some in tears) who were positively impacted by the conversation. We could not have planned the perfect formation of elements that has begun the healing and restoration process for many since our discussion. God’s perfect timing unites situations, people and willing hearts to accomplish His purposes. Not a day sooner or later. Right on time.

Words cannot adequately convey what I feel in my spirit. In simplest words, I have a spirit of gratitude and humility that such a big God chooses to involve us in His greater plan. Thank you Lord. We love you.

Satan hoped that Ana would remain silent, ashamed and bound by her past. But God’s plan was already at work. In John 10:10 Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.” As referenced in Jeremiah 29:11, which furthermore says, “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD,” “plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

As Ana says, “No matter your situation, your story, know that GOD can restore you. HE can heal you. HE is our Redeemer. He has a bigger plan for your life greater than you know. He will turn around the darkest things in your life and make them beautiful.”

Just like Ana, sharing your story, your healing will help somebody else.

Listen to the show here. 

Christmas Post Office Push: Show Love

Ana Martinez, Voices Against the Grain Guest Blogger

Ana Martinez, Voices Against the Grain Guest Blogger

Like many people during this time of year, it was a must that I venture to the post office.  I needed stamps to mail my Christmas greeting cards. Guessing by the packed post office lobby, so was everyone else.  We all stood there patiently waiting in the long single line, mixed with other patrons looking to send out packages.  Suddenly a glimmer of hope: the clerks opened a register for stamp purchase only. I quietly thought to myself, “This is it; only one person in front of me now.” Like everyone else, I was in a hurry.  You would have thought they were giving away a million dollars, the way everyone darted for the line.  People began cutting in front of others, who had been patiently waiting longer than them.  This all got me wondering about how Jesus sees us, especially this time of year.  I read in a Christmas book before, “If I have a perfect house and give the perfect gift but do not show love to my family what good is it?”

Isn’t that so true? We can all become wrapped up in the Idea of Christmas and really miss the point.  Jesus is not concerned with how perfect your house is decorated, or if you mailed your greetings cards on time.  He is more concerned with your inward condition.  Are you showing His love to those around you? Even at the post office?  If we take a minute and stop rushing we might see that there are people hurting and many in need of a Savior. So I challenge you to take a moment and ask Jesus what He wants from you this year, for His birthday!

Luke 2: 13-14

13– And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14- “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”

About Ana Martinez

Ana Martinez was born in Michigan. When she was age 4, her parents Pastor Juan and Deborah Martinez founded the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship in Almont, Mich.  Ana grew up in the church and in a humble, loving Christian home.  Her parent’s faithfulness and commitment to ministry for over 27 years has been a testimony to her.  In her youth she was like the prodigal son.  She knows what it means to walk away from your call and to stray from the Word of God.  Her life experiences have taught her that God’s way and His principals are worth upholding.  She is a God-fearing Christian woman determined to do the will of The Lord.  Her heart’s desire is to reach the lost and win souls for the kingdom of heaven by sharing the Good News, according to Matthew 28:19. Ana truly believes people are hurting and need to know that there is forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give ye rest.”

Ana has served on the Missionary Field, and has served in and led praise and worship, web design, children’s ministry and youth ministry.  Ana’s most recent initiative isGeorgia Peach Ministry, a non-profit she founded that serves widows and orphans.  Ana is also on the board of the Potter’s House Christian Fellowship. Ana is a private chef and has worked with professional athletes over the past five years. She is also an entrepreneur and is part owner in an interior design business, a chef placement business, and is entering into the food product industry.

Ana resides in Southern California with her three beautiful children and seeks daily to model this scripture from Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”