Wishing you and your family all the best for a great and blessed Christmas season!
A “Different” Holiday Story
She called herself “Mary Magdalene” and this is her true story.
As a beautiful, young woman, she was living with her sister in a large town in northwestern Texas. And then she met “him”. He told her that he loved her and she drank in the attention that he gave her. Consequently, she dove headlong into his world of partying and drugs.
Her sister recognized the reality of what was going on and told her not to get involved with him. But excitement and “love” won out over family concerns.
The couple quickly became an item and she gave herself exclusively to him. The partying continued and he convinced her to come with him to Oklahoma City to visit friends for more fun and more drugs.
But the short drive to OKC ended up in a nightmare for her. Upon arrival here, he announced that they had no more money for a hotel room and their only alternative was for her to “work on Robinson” to make some quick cash. It certainly wasn’t what she thought would happen so she hesitated. The “boyfriend” saw the hesitation, got angry and beat her badly. As she covered her face, fear and shock set in. Reluctantly she gave in-after all, she thought, “what choice do I have?”
So with the boyfriend-turned-pimp parked nearby in a hidden car, she anxiously stood on Robinson street with other prostituted women and sold herself to strange men she didn’t know—all because of a dream of love gone bad.
After several days and weeks, she woke up in a cheap hotel room with her “pimp” laying next to her and realized—it’s Thanksgiving day: a day meant for being with family, enjoying each other and what God had given them. Getting beat up every day, being forced to do things she didn’t want to do and selling herself to strange men on Robinson certainly didn’t fit into her definition of Thanksgiving.
Then boyfriend/pimp woke up and announced that he was making “dates” for her later that night—meaning that he was making appointments with paying clients who would come to the hotel to have sex with her. Two men were already booked.
She refused and cried out to go home-home to her sister and the family she loved. The minutes crawled by as he beat her severely.
It was the last straw.
Upset and racked by fear, she waited hours in the corner until he took his drugs of choice and went back to a drug-induced sleep. Then she saw her opportunity and quickly slipped out the hotel door. Looking over her shoulder, she ran down the long hall to the elevator and frantically pushed the button over and over, as if the elevator could feel the panic in her fingers. The elevator responded by giving a “Ding!” back to her. It had arrived.
The elevator door opened as she heard the sound that she dreaded—the creak of the door opening and out he came yelling and stumbling with a wild look on his face. An elderly couple inside the elevator stood open-mouthed at the scene unfolding before them. Trembling, she threw herself into the elevator and into the stranger’s arms. All three adults frantically pushed the “close” button.
They ran out the hotel to the couple’s car where they locked the door, drove to a safe location and listened to her story. She cried as she told it. After a moment of consideration, they dropped her off at the Oklahoma City bus station with the assumption that her family would pay for the bus ticket home. They assumed wrong.
“Mary” called her family at that early morning hour and pleaded with them to send her money. After some discussion, they denied her request, not wanting to contribute to her drug usage and unsure of whether to trust her. She was deeply disappointed as she hung up the phone.
Not knowing what else to do, she contacted a local OKC ministry who referred her to a No Boundaries International outreach worker. As she sat in the bus station, she called the number and told her story to the woman who answered. The NBI staff person immediately sensed her distress and offered to first pray for her before any decisions were made. Mary pushed away the prayer but the NBI staffer persisted and prayed anyway. After more discussion, the outreach worker quickly told her she would see what she could do and would call her back.
The minutes ticked by as Mary sat in the bus station. Suddenly, the elderly couple who first helped her busted through the front door, scanning the room for Mary. The gray haired woman said, “ As we were driving further and further from the bus station, I felt like Someone told me to come back here and pay for your bus ticket back home. Is that OK?”
“Mary” cried in desperate relief. After the kind couple purchased the $55 ticket and placed it in her hands, she called the NBI worker back and proclaimed, “It’s all because of your prayers! Thank you so much!”
The young girl then boarded the bus and went home to her family, leaving behind her nightmare on Robinson.
Living in a Story of Good News
by Tim Harder
It’s that time of year! I love that we live in a story of good news that’s worth remembering, and that we get to take seasons and focus our attention on remembering Jesus – anything about Him. I love, particularly, though, the Christmas season and the celebration of advent.
I love advent because it’s a celebration of hope! More than just counting the days down until Christmas Day comes, the season of advent is a time for our hearts to remember that there really were years “Before Christ.” There was a time when “Messiah” (“Christ”) was just a whispered promise of hope between those who believed in their hearts for what God had spoken through the prophets. There was a time when salvation was a prayer prayed in faith looking forward to God providing somehow, not a prayer prayed in confidence looking back at God’s provision in Jesus.
Advent puts Christmas in right perspective. When we take the gift for granted, it’s hard to wonder and it’s hard to be truly appreciative. It’s remembering that we were once “without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12) that causes our hearts to soar in worship at the Day “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2). In the season of advent, we get, for a moment, to join the saints of old like Simeon who “waited for the Consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25). If only so that our hearts can respond something like his: ready to die fulfilled because we realize the thing our soul most cries for has been realized – we have seen the salvation of our God.
I love to set myself there among the Israelites, with nothing but the promises of old to guide my heart in hoping for God to send a savior – a seed of Eve who would crush the serpents head, the seed of Abraham through whom the nations would be blessed, a prophet like Moses who is one of us, a son of David to rule on his throne in righteousness. For generations men waited, watching and hoping for Messiah to appear. The genealogies in Matthew and Luke are more than just record-keeping of Jesus’ ancestry: they’re a long list of hope deferred – generation after generation of men who were not the promised Messiah.
Waiting with them, until all hope seems lost and many had stopped looking, I get to astound with them as God answers in a way that more than meets the hopes and expectations of all the generations. The Holy Spirit comes upon Mary and the hope of nations is born. “Jesus” who would save His people from their sins; “Immanuel”, God with us (Matthew 1:20-23). God had heard the prayers for a Deliverer and fulfilled His promise to send a Savior – a Righteous King who could represent men to God… and that Man is Himself. He inserted Himself into our brokenness and need and hurt, unashamed to call us His brothers, and to call Himself the Son of Man. What remarkable love! He took our salvation personally – not coming to save a people who had gone astray, but to save His people, becoming one of us. The gift of God to men in need is more than pointing the way or healing the hurt or meeting the need; His gift is Himself, become one of us to fight for us and intercede for us forever, so much more than we could ever have asked or imagined!
It’s the season for remembrance and celebration, and the season for hope! Because in the celebration of God’s exceeding, abundant answer to the hopes and prayers of those in the day of Christ’s first coming, there’s a promise of God’s answer to our hopes and prayers today. For those still walking in darkness, there’s a real day in God’s heart where He sends light into their world. For a world full of injustice and suffering and oppression, there’s a real day in God’s heart when righteous government will reign… and it’s not just a better human king we’re looking forward to. God Himself will be our King. “Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:7)
So let’s celebrate hope this season, and hope’s fulfillment: the coming of the hope of the nations two thousand years ago, and the equally real day of fulfillment yet to come for promises still unseen
Operation Christmas Shoebox a Great Success!
What an amazing and fun day! No Boundaries staff and faithful volunteers handed out 750+ gift bags filled with toys, large and small, for the children of John Adams elementary school right here in Oklahoma City.
Many of these children tell us stories of getting very little for Christmas so NBI decided to change that story for the better. One small boy told us that the gift bag he received contained the very gift that he had been asking his father for quite some time! He was smiling from ear to ear!
In addition to gift bags, 2 bicycles and 6 OKC Thunder/Chesapeake basketballs were also given out to randomly selected students. And then to top off the day, Santa Claus himself came and not only helped hand out gifts but made personal visits to every classroom at John Adams. It was a fantastic success and many children went home excited and happy to know that someone cared.
Our heartfelt thanks to every volunteer and donor who helped make this outreach such a fantastic success!