For Such A Time As This
by Stephanie Olson, Co-Founder Set Me Free Ministries
I recently had the amazing opportunity to speak at a Fashion Show benefiting a wonderful ministry in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The ministry is called Hope Net Ministries, and they support women in poverty situations, many who are transitioning from prison to society. These women desperately need to know that they are loved by God with a love none of us can comprehend. These are women who have been through very difficult situations and need someone to step alongside of them and give them support and love during times of need.
The attendees of the Fashion Show were women from local churches who could potentially be those servants to these beautiful women. The models were women who were being supported and served by Hope Net Ministries. Very inspiring indeed. One of the things I shared with the attendees was my experience as someone who needed a person to come alongside of me in my time of need.
As many of you know, I began to drink in high school, and years of drinking sent me into a tailspin of bondage like I couldn’t have imagined. My life was filled with shame, pain, and such a feeling of worthlessness. I didn’t understand that only Christ could relieve me from such bondage and pain, so I looked for relief everywhere but with Jesus. I didn’t understand that I was loved by a love that I could never comprehend.
By the grace of God, I married a wonderful man, and we started a family, yet my drinking continued to spiral out of control. I had so much shame, and I felt so alone. The last thing I wanted was for anyone to know that I was weak. I was a young stay-at-home mom, and I thought there couldn't possibly be anyone in the world who was experiencing what I was going through. There couldn’t be anyone who would understand that I needed to drink to feel better about myself. I remember thinking that alcoholism was a man’s disease. My idea of an alcoholic was the man sitting under the bridge with a bottle in a bag. I didn’t consider myself an alcoholic, because I wasn’t that. I was a woman with a child—a woman who looked okay from the outside but was dying on the inside.
The morning following my last drunk I decided I needed help. Shortly after that day, I went to a church that was holding a twelve-step meeting. Terrified and intimidated, I sat in the church parking lot on a Wednesday night trying to will myself to get out of my car. As I looked to my left, I saw three women, beautifully and fashionably dressed. As I looked closer, I realized I knew one of them. Her name was Bev, and she had been my friend and mentor at one of my jobs years before. I was mortified! Here were these three women, surely heading to the church choir as I was getting out of my car to share my weaknesses with a group of strangers. Trying to slip into the church without being noticed, I realized it was too late when she called my name. I stumbled around with my words trying to fake small talk when one of the women spoke and said, “Is this your first meeting?”
I couldn’t believe it. These well-dressed, well-spoken, normal-looking women were just like me. They took me under their wings, took me out to coffee, answered questions I had, and offered me a support system that I needed so desperately. Bev, my friend, continued to support me, mentor me, and provide me with godly council through some of my most difficult times. She remains a wonderful friend to this day. I found out later that they had never been to that meeting, and they never went back after. God had placed those women in my life at that very moment.
We are told in Esther 4:14, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” That is my question to you today. Has God called you for such a time as this?
I look at my life. God had a purpose for my life. And although I am a continuing work of His hands, I am walking in my destiny today. And God used Bev on a Wednesday night to become His servant. Psalm 138 says, “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands.” Bev, who was also once in need of someone to come and show her she was a woman of worth, turned around and used her experiences to show me I was a woman of worth.
I need to tell you we have an enemy, Satan, who wants us to die in our chains of bondage. He wants us to live in condemnation and feel worthless all the days of our lives. He doesn’t want us to be of service to others. He doesn’t want us to go out and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But listen to what we are told in Revelation 12:10-11. “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.’ And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”
It is by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, and the word of our testimony that we help bring others to Christ.
Look at what happened with my example. Bev found Christ and recognized that she was a woman of worth, and then she stepped out to serve and showed me who I was in Christ and that I was a woman of worth. And then I stepped out to serve. I started Set Me Free Ministries and have seen countless women recognize their worth in Christ all because Bev was obedient to God and was willing to serve.
When you make a decision to step out and be a source of love and support to others, you have no idea how many lives you are touching. Bev stepped into a place of service on a Wednesday night and, not even realizing it, touched countless lives.
So who are you called to serve? Whose life are you called to make an impact in? I certainly know Bev made an impact on mine, and for that, I thank her!