Feature

What Becomes of Them?

A prostitute learns of Jesus in an unlikey way

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It is Friday night at a drug rehab center. Carina, a student at the Alliance Bible Institute, answers questions about God from recovering from addicts. They are astonished by her answers and even more amazed by the changes in her life. The last thing anyone, especially Carina, could ever imagine was that she would be a Bible student and an evangelist to needy, desperate people.

Unwanted

Carina’s story began 31 years ago in the womb, when her mom drank sour milk and ate bitter herbs—anything bad she could get her hands on in a frenzied attempt to provoke a natural abortion. Yet Carina was born—baby number three and definitely not wanted. Carina’s earliest childhood memories are of the continual reminders that she turned out bad because of the crazy things her mom had consumed during pregnancy.

Carina craved love and approval from her father, yet he favored the eldest son. Carina received verbal abuse from both parents. Early physical maturation at 11 years of age and the seedy atmosphere of the community proved an easy entrance into the dark life of prostitution. Every corner of Carina’s neighborhood had gambling booths and discotheques. Drugs were readily available, and Carina took full advantage. At age 14 she entered into a marriage that lasted five months. She snuffed out the life growing in her womb with an abortion.

What would be able to penetrate such a lifestyle in the midst of confusion, disappointment and despair? Intra-family violence is epidemic in the Dominican Republic, and only about half of the youth consider their own family to be a source of happiness. Carina’s case fits all too well in studies that indicate one out of four Dominican children and youth say that aggression is a personal problem (UNICEF study of children and youth in the Dominican Republic, 2000). And whenever Carina did behave correctly, her actions received no positive recognition from her parents.

In desperate situations of violence and abuse, many people often turn to anything or anyone who might have a solution. Carina by default fell into sinful lifestyles practiced in her neighborhood. Unfortunately, her former delinquent friends have all died.

Good News

Five years ago Carina caroused around the neighborhood. A routine Saturday night adventure turned a sharp corner when a prostitute friend who had heard that Jesus could change lives offered to pray for Carina. She had lived with bad news all of her life. Problems with her live-in boyfriend had brought her to a lower level of spiritual poverty. Carina was spiritually hungry and ready for good news. A physical sensation overwhelmed Carina as she pleaded for God’s help.

That day she told her father that God had changed her life. “Get out of my face,” he snarled. Despising such God-talk, he would have nothing to do with her. For more than a year she stumbled along and even continued some of her hazardous practices.

Then God provided a neighbor who became like a mother to her. She taught Carina about God’s forgiveness. But the evil one had been well entrenched in her young life and was not happy with her conversion. Although Carina learned to forgive her boyfriend, spiritual growth was accompanied by persecution from him, her family and the community. Carina’s sister died at age 28. Her older brother was in drug rehabilitation. Further, she was rejected by her parents.

Study and Esteem

What becomes of the Carinas in life—those alarming 86 percent of Dominican youth with no self-respect? How can they love God and their neighbors as themselves when they have no self-worth? Only God’s love in Christ Jesus can turn around such a life to give significance and esteem.

Carina began Bible studies more than two years ago. Friends and acquaintances are amazed at Carina’s knowledge of the Bible and want to receive training at Alliance Bible Institute as well. God has healed Carina’s wounded emotions; she holds no grudges against those who had harmed her. After five years of transformed living, Carina now preaches at a community center where people gather to hear God’s Word. Even her mother and father come to listen. Her father has been heard calling her “the Bible teacher”; she is esteemed.

In countries where those on the margins of society have no voice in decision making, opportunities to study God’s Word and for prayer are avenues through which they can speak and know that their concerns will be acted upon. What better way to self-worth than through identification with Christ Jesus and His Church!

The good news is that God is working in this beautiful land to draw people to Himself. Dominican culture exhibits folklore’s synergistic practices, such as occult activity, fortune-telling, fetishism, magic spells, Santeria and non-Christian sects. However, openness to spiritual experiences also means that people are open to trusting Christ for salvation.

Years ago, Carina was challenged to trust Christ Jesus as her savior. Now she delights in sharing the Word of God with everyone. Carina’s young daughter also enthusiastically ministers to classmates and other children who meet weekly in their neighborhood. Thanks to the Spirit’s work, some parents are open to religious and spiritual formation of their children. God is using Carina to transform this community while she receives training in character, ministry skills and Bible knowledge.

The Alliance Bible Institute has an unprecedented opportunity to help entire families in their faith development. It prepares pastors and leaders from all walks in life and varied levels of society, both men and women. Teachers at the institute desire to serve those who have been changed by Jesus Christ, love Him and have a passionate call to bring others into the Kingdom.

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