On June 6th, Cornerstone hosted a worship night, where we featured one of our local missionaries, Susana Bendijo. Susana works with Cru, which brings Jesus to local high schools in Long Beach. Susana brought a student with her from Wilson High School who shared her testimony with us. It was a hard story as she had a very difficult childhood. For as long as she could remember, she felt unwanted, unloved, and neglected. Those feelings were reinforced not just by absent parents, but by siblings who spoke hurtful words over her, calling her a “trash baby” again and again. In fact, it was so bad that she thought about killing herself any number of times as she grew up. There was one light in her life, which was her grandmother who tried to encourage her. Nonetheless, this young woman mostly suffered her way through her childhood. Until one day.
As this student sat in her ROTC class, another young woman named Susana stood up. Susana began talking about the love of Jesus and how he pursues us. The student said that as she listened her heart began to move almost unwillingly. It melted as she heard that Jesus loved her personally and she decided to accept Jesus into her heart. This started a process of healing that has gone on for several years. Today, her wounds are healing and she is now sharing a powerful testimony with others.
As I heard her story, I saw a parallel with Luke 13:10-17. This is a story where Jesus healed a woman with a disabling spirit. It says:
“Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” 17 As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.”
The focus of the passage is on the synagogue ruler’s response to Jesus’s act of healing. He was upset at what Jesus did, so he directed his frustration at the worshippers, telling them not to profane the Sabbath. Jesus rebuked the ruler acknowledging the woman’s importance to God (a daughter of Abraham) and her value by declaring that the Sabbath was a wonderful day to free someone from the grip of Satan. In this dialogue, we see a glimpse of how Jesus confronts religiosity with the heart of God. It’s a beautiful moment that weaves teaching and healing into a single encounter. As the woman is healed, she responds by worshipping God.
As the student shared that night, I thought, “Jesus is still in the business of freeing men and women, children of all ages, from the bonds of Satan and from the disabilities that hold them.” Praise be to God!
I don’t know what your journey is like. Maybe you’re dealing with a disability right now. Maybe it’s physical, emotional, or relational. Maybe you need to stop this moment to pray and invite Jesus to heal you of that disability. Then again, maybe you’ve been healed. Perhaps you can look back on your life and recognize times of his mercy, love, or deliverance. As a result, you have a powerful testimony to share.
Jesus is still healing us from disabling spirits. He is still giving us a powerful testimony and that testimony can move others. So, as you go about your day, reflect on the work of God in your life. Ask God to help you shed any religious thinking that divides the sacred from the secular. Replay one instance in your mind where God demonstrated his faithfulness to you. As you orient to your day, be prepared to share with someone about that work that God did in your life. Look for the opportunity. Expect the opportunity and see God show up as you do.
Friends, we have been given the greatest gift. We have received forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ. There are many people in this world, like the student we heard from, who are desperately hungry for the same thing. It’s up to us to share it with them. May God grant you the opportunity to witness to him and may God bless you as you do so.
Dan joined the Cornerstone team in November 2018 as the Pastor of Missions. His focus is on empowering the church family to step beyond the boundaries of CCLB to declare the Good News, so that the Body of Christ might be established where it would not otherwise occur. In addition, Dan provides oversight for Cornerstone’s Care ministries.