The Lord is My Shepherd
by Margarita Rodriguez, House Supervisor, Women and Children’s Mission
First, I’d like to say thank you, and next I’ll say that I’m looking forward to seeing you again. I’m Margarita, the employee at the Women’s Mission that you talk with when you come to volunteer and help us with the many projects that keep our building going. Without the many volunteers that come to us, our building wouldn’t be the same, and I am grateful and thankful for your unconditional love that helps our house to remain our home. Over many years, I’ve learned the importance of volunteering—that their presence helps one to heal. I’ll share my life story to hopefully illustrate that truth.
When I first came to Harrisburg I knew that God was leading me, but I didn’t know exactly where I was going or where I would wind up. All I knew is that I had to leave Philadelphia and I had to get help. The road to recovery is not an easy road, but if you find a Scripture to hold on to—a Scripture that you believe in and trust God‘s faithfulness to carry you, you will make it through. For me, it was the 23rd Psalm. The Lord is my shepherd…I used to say that over and over, in fact, I still do. It began for me over 20 years ago when my son had gotten shot—I couldn’t deal with the reality or with the pain.
I was at a bus stop one day in Philadelphia, looking for something that I shouldn’t have been looking for, and a woman came up to me. She grabbed my hand and said to me, “The Lord told me to tell you to read the 23 Psalm”. Although I wasn’t submitted to the Lord, I always knew that the Lord was with me. I would pray all of the time- I loved the Lord. That is why it didn’t surprise me when that women told me that the Lord had told her to share with me. She grabbed a crumpled up brown paper bag from her purse and wrote Psalm 23 on it. She told me to repeat it and to hold on to each word. I did just that ever since that day. When I look back at this unnamed and unknown woman I think, she was the angel sent to save my life. I am forever grateful.
During that desperate time, the Lord placed me in a house of mercy called Bethesda Women and Children’s Shelter and surrounded me with a group of women, staff, and volunteers that knew what I needed to begin the process of healing from abuse, from drugs, and from myself…I shall not want… He leads me beside still waters…
A discipleship program, recovery groups, daily life at Bethesda Women’s Mission, time, and, most of all, surrendering my will helped me to see that change was occurring within me…He restores my soul…It is through the love of Jesus that helps you to change your mind and begin living a different way. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name sake… Reading and meditating on God’s word helps you to understand who He is, and what His will is for your life.
Like I said, recovery isn’t an easy process. You have to learn how to live life all over again. And while you are working on yourself, life outside of the Mission still occurs. Initially, I thought that those living in the Mission should do everything and that the volunteers that came to help shouldn’t be asked to come. Over time, I learned that without the volunteers, I would have never been able to sit still, focus, and heal. That is why I am so thankful for them today—they helped me to heal.
While I was in the program at the Mission, I lost loved ones and friends, and at the same time I gained new family and friends. I watched healing take place with my son and family, and continued growing in faith and as a new creature in Christ…Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
After graduation, I found an apartment and worked several jobs at once, continuing to grow in a life free from the evils of addiction. I remember staff would shake their heads and smile when they saw me in steel-toed shoes off to work as a forklift operator. I worked 3 jobs sometimes—I was happy to be clean and happy to have the ability to work. That was many years ago. Today…
I’ve been employed full-time with the Mission since 2004 and I love my job. If you have spent time at the women’s shelter volunteering, then you know that today…my head had been anointed with oil of God…It is our volunteers that makes my job what it is, today. You help me to keep the women’s mission moving, working, and operating on a daily basis. I love my job because I get to see the love of the Lord in action. I am amazed at the level of work it takes to keep a mission our size operating, but am even more amazed at how God’s provision keeps us going everyday! I needed you to help me and you did, and you continue helping others each and every time you walk through our doors with a plan of action.
I love seeing the women get the help they need for a new life. There is a lot of trauma and hurt and pain that comes through our doors. If the women are serious about change and recovery they will do just fine in life. The hard things to see are when they leave the program prematurely. Just because you are here doesn’t make a successful program. What makes this place different is the time and attention that you are given to grow in your relationship with God who is the one that gives you the knowledge, strength, and desire to live in peace with God, others, and yourself. But it is hard work. I received a lot of love that came from many directions, and I am thankful for serving souls that know helping another is just what God calls us to do…surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever….
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