Though the door did not bang as the mom exited, I felt like it should have. Seconds before, she had briskly left the room with two kids and a frustrated spirit in tow. That was my first encounter with Sharon. Though the center was literally feet from her porch, that was the last time she would enter it for the next three years. Past hurtful interactions with Christians had caused her to deny God and in turn, reject us.
For the next two years, a sort of unspoken battle was waged. Glares were common. Our kids took the brunt of it though. They were frequently in trouble for lining up too near her backdoor. My heart felt heavy for this woman who felt that we were the enemy when we could have been an ally.
Change comes through the most unexpected means. For Sharon, it was a flier for Girl Scouts.
“I’d like to sign my girls up for Girl Scouts. How old do they need to be?” she asked gruffly. It was a surreal experience answering each of her questions. Yes, everything is free. Yes, they could get help with their homework. Then came the question that still causes me to well-up with joy.
“And I heard you do Bible study. Is that right?” Sharon asked.
My reply was a simple, “Yes.” I expected her to deny them the opportunity to attend. Instead she said, “Good, I want them to be involved in that.”
For the first year, she approached us with caution. Guarded as ever, she watched as we served her kids. Gradually though, her heart softened toward us. We grew closer to her six children and to her youngest children’s father. A love for Jesus was birthed in the hearts of her children through Bible study.
Sharon soon became a fixture at the center. After dropping off her girls, she stop and chat. Volunteering when we were in a pinch became common. She even served alongside our teens during a community service project.
At that community service project, she shared, “I really appreciate all you’ve done for my kids. I see how much you care about them.” My mind swam of images of Sharon opening her heart to Christ. I anticipated growing our relationship.