Testimony to ministry

I arrived at Lenox Hill Shelter for Women in July 2008, feeling sickly and weak. Sorrow had taken the place of joy, because of my dire circumstances. At least one and a half years earlier I had undergone a year-long treatment of chemotherapy. Then came the death of my beloved mother, followed by homelessness. Homeless was something I’d never experienced in my life, so I was completely unprepared for it. I came to this place fearful, and feeling abandoned by God. If one more tragic situation happened to me, I felt I might have a nervous breakdown.

Eventually I settled into my new environment, but I found myself getting sick often. The chemo had almost destroyed my immune system, and left me so vulnerable. The women there made me so uneasy, because most of them were also sick and mentally ill.

As the days turned into weeks I grew more comfortable, so with Bible in hand I got to know some of the women. Upon hearing some of their stories and sharing my own, we began to bond. Still there was loneliness and a feeling of abandonment that stayed with me.

One morning, a ministry called LEFSA came to the shelter to minister to the women. My curiosity was piqued, but I kept my distance and just observed. The more times LEFSA came, the more I found myself wanting to be a part of it. Looking forward to seeing these angels of mercy arrive, just to see their smiling faces, brought me so much joy. So I became a part of the group when they came.

I felt that God had sent His love to me through LEFSA, telling me “don’t worry, I’m with you, and everything will be alright.” This ministry changed my depression and heartbreak to joy. I even got back my voice. Before I had no desire to sing, but God changed things so drastically for me, all I wanted to do was sing His praises. From that point on I no longer saw myself as a victim. I realized that I been placed at Lenox Hill for a reason, and I began to minister to the ladies, helping them in any way I could. The Lord really helped me understand that it really wasn’t about me, it was about speaking encouragement, kindness, and spreading God’s love throughout the shelter. In less than a year the Lord gave me my heart’s desire in a one-bedroom apartment, where I reside today.

This was the beginning of my becoming a part of LEFSA, and I’ve never looked back. I attend their gatherings, such as the women’s group and all the Leadership Study Days and holiday celebrations. In November 2014 at LEFSA’s Thanksgiving celebration, an announcement was made asking for singers for their Christmas celebration. I volunteered, and the gospel choir called the Daughters of LEFSA was born. It has truly been a ride of love, joy, peace and hope. To God be the glory!

LEFSA changed my life by opening a window of opportunity for me to meet many like-minded men and women, who share my love for God. It’s also given me a platform to use the gifts God has given me. There are so many wonderful memories and experiences I have with LEFSA, but the one I’ve never forgotten was the first retreat at Mariandale, while Sister Dorothy was alive. This event set the tone for everything that’s happening in my life today.

My desire is that many will come to know how LEFSA has changed people’s lives for the better. Many come battered and broken, but experience radical change if they remain. LEFSA is a life-changing ministry with God at its center.

-Joan B.