By: Tammy Stearns
They were left again.
Many evenings the two young girls are picked up late by their mother from Taellor’s House. Yet, this night I saw them still at Taellor’s House at 8:30 pm as I was heading home from after cabana time. She has never been this late. As I walked to the cabana, I saw that Rafael had fed them dinner and they were playing quietly at one of the tables. We called the numbers that we had for their mother, sent someone to her home and exhausted all possibilities of locating her. One of the non-negotiable rules of opening Taellor’s House was that the children could never stay over night. Our only option was to call Mi Familia, which is similar to the Division of Family Services. They quickly exhausted the same contacts that we had and gave us permission to wait with them longer.
I knew their mother. She would stay in the periphery of any activities never making eye contact. She would tend to stay far away from me and the other ladies, always with a downcast head. There were rumors about what she did for work but nothing that we knew definitively. We knew that she was a single mom trying to care for her two young daughters without any help other than Taellor’s House.
A few hours later, headlights appeared at the gate as their young mother came staggering into the gate. With her head downcast, she walked slowly to the cabana. “Please sit with me,” I asked. She looked up questioningly not sure what to expect but she joined me, never making eye contact. She was disheveled, at best. She was most likely either drunk or high on something. Calmly, I explained again the rules of Taellor’s House, the hours and the requirements that as a mother she had to follow. Then I asked, “Tell me what you do for work?” She quickly looked away, seemingly folding into her body as she slowly shook her head. “It’s okay. No judgment here.” With tears in her eyes, she explained that she worked as a “dancer” for a nearby bar. “Is that all that you have to do there?” Slowly her head began to shake no.
“Let’s make a deal here. The girls can continue coming to Taellor’s House only if you come to UnShackled before you go to work.” She quickly agreed and began to leave. As she began to get her daughters, her body was shaking and tears continued to fall. In her, I saw a confused, broken and hurt young daughter of the King who had been so exploited by the trappings of this world that the shackles were ever so heavy.
“Wait, why don’t you completely stop what you are doing and come be with us at UnShackled for the whole day. Why don’t you use this as an opportunity to completely change your life, for you and for your girls? The girls can be at Taellor’s House and receive meals and a snack while you will be at UnShackled where you will receive meals and a snack along with a food pack and a small payment to help you make this transition to become something different. I believe in you.”
She looked at me with the most vacant eyes, gathered her daughters and walked out of the gate. I slowly watched them walk up the street knowing that they had nowhere to go for the night and fully not expecting to see them again.
Until the next morning, she came to UnShackled. As ten o’clock came and went, she stayed the whole day. She participated in the programs and seemed to soak up God’s words along with the space of UnShackled.The ladies welcomed her as they had each once been welcomed into UnShackled. She came the next day and the next until the days began to add up to weeks. One day, as I was walking through the inner courtyard, a most beautiful lady walked by me, flashed a gorgeous carefree smile. She was a lady that I did not recognize at all from that evening so many nights ago. She has since accepted Christ and is working through the program of UnShackled with such incredible determination. I once asked her, “Why did you decided to come?” With tears in her eyes, she replied, “I have never had anyone believe in me.”
She continues to attend UnShackled and the girls attend Taellor’s House. In time when she is ready, she has asked if we will go and minister to the other ladies that she worked with. She wants them to have the same freedom that she has found. Freedom that can only be found in Him.