She’d been without running water for 3 months.
A whole bunch of sidewalk had been jackhammered out along North Highway 14 during monsoon season, and her well house and pump were destroyed when water came rushing down the road with nothing to block it from overwhelming her property. “Ms.Reed” had been working constantly to get some help, either from her home insurance or the law, but found roadblocks everywhere she turned.
I’d been helping in Ms. Reed’s special needs class for around two years at that point. There are few people in this world who pour themselves into their work the way she does. Nights? She’s preparing craft supplies for tomorrow’s balloon activity. Weekends? She’s searching garage sales for educational toys and used books. Breaks? She’s re-decorating her classroom to make it more functional. I’ve watched her work tirelessly to find new strategies for her students, regardless of how many she’s tried already. She never stops believing that success is within their reach. She is a force.
She did not complain about her water situation. She did not ask for help. She continued to file appeals, speak with lawyers, and save her money. Though she didn’t say it, she had to have been worried about the length of time this process would take.
Ms. Reed had been showering and doing laundry at school for weeks when the principal noticed. She got on the phone herself, calling a host of organizations that might come alongside Ms. Reed and get her some real help…to no avail. That’s when the principal approached Shine.
"What ensued was the most amazing conversation about the truth of God’s grace."
“I don’t know if you can help her,” she said, “but could you see if you know anyone who could get her running water back?”
I asked Ms. Reed if it would be ok if I approached my Shine team about it. At first, she was quite reluctant to accept any help. She truly believed that if she could just talk to the right lawyer, the right NMDOT rep, the right someone, they’d be out there to make things right. “Ok”, I said, “But…in the meantime, could we help you get your water back?” Ms. Reed had received a few quotes on the work, and they were steep. “Let me just see if we can help,” I said. She reluctantly agreed.
MCC’s Shine team was only too pleased at the prospect of helping Ms. Reed. One volunteer said, “My husband and I have been praying about how to give this money! This is such perfect timing!” We put together a pool, and I let Ms. Reed know that we could likely help her with at least half the bill. She was absolutely floored. With tears in her eyes, she said, “I just can’t believe you guys would do this…for ME.”
Ms. Reed called Water Works for one final quote, which happened to be lower than all the others, but they weren’t totally sure what the final bill would be. I told her to go ahead and have it done, and that we would trust that God would provide what we needed.
She called me the next day, ecstatic and in tears. The final bill was a fraction of what had originally been quoted to her, and a fraction of what we had raised to help her. I told her to let us pay the whole thing, and she just lost it. The reason she had called was to say that someone in her family had made her feel guilty for accepting our help, and she felt she should refuse.
“Well what are YOU gonna do for THEM?”, they’d asked her. “You can’t just do nothing. You’re stealing from them. And they have REAL needy people to help.”
“Ms. Reed,” I said, “I firmly believe that this is God’s grace to you. This right here is a demonstration of God’s love and care for you. All you have to do is accept it. You can’t pay it back, friend. Just receive it.”
She absolutely fell apart.
What ensued was the most amazing conversation about the truth of God’s grace.
As it turns out, Ms. Reed grew up believing she had to be “good enough” for God. And of course, she believes she never has been. The idea of accepting a gift..from HIM, no less, and without guilt…was overwhelming. We talked about why Jesus went to the cross, how all of our sin died with Him, that if God expected us to earn His love, He’d never have sent Jesus at all.
Ms. Reed and I still speak regularly on this subject. It may be awhile before she returns to church, but she knows beyond a doubt that God reached into her life with grace and compassion through people who love Him. She knows a side of God that she had never considered. And she understands that all her debts are paid in Christ, and that she can come to Him guilt-free.
This is what Shine is all about.
Click hereto learn more about MCC's partnership with Shine.