The day was moving along like normal her at The Living Vine Maternity Home in Savannah, Ga. Then another missionary, Hailey, told me Dawn, our newest resident, was sitting on the floor in her room, with all her things packed and ready to go.
I went to talk to her, and Dawn began to tell me that she didn’t want to be here anymore. She felt she wasn’t learning what she came here to learn. She said this was just a place that girls go to when they’re pregnant. She also told me that although she wants to learn about God, she feels like it’s being thrown in her face.
The purpose of The Vine
I calmly told her I was sorry she feels like she isn’t growing. I reminded her that she has only been here for a short time, and God works in his own timing. I also told her the purpose of the Vine. It’s a safe place where unwed pregnant girls can come to learn life skills, parenting lessons, nutrition info and other things. But more importantly, it’s a place to learn how to rely and trust and believe in a God who will be able to help them in every aspect of their lives, including raising their child.
I pleaded with her to give it some more time, and I promised that the staff and I would help her in any way we could.
It was time for dinner at this point. As we ate, she stayed completely quiet and distant the entire time. Afterward, with her permission, we made our way to her room to talk more. Immediately, she broke into tears.
She started telling me about her family situation—how her mother, siblings and she have not had their own home in a while and have gone from living with family members to staying in a group home. Her relationship with her mom has always been rocky and she’s been kicked out the house several times, she said, even while she was pregnant.
A lack of trust
She told me her mom has a cycle of doing completely unforgivable things and taking it out on her, just to sadly ask for her forgiveness over and over again. She said she doesn’t even trust her mother to take care of her child when she goes back to school because of her instabilities.
My heart was broken. And that’s when God stepped in. I started talking—or rather God gave me the words to say—encouraging her, telling her about my own relationship with my father and how I have had to take on the mature role with that relationship.
I emphasized that situations like hers are why we want so much for her to know God personally. I told her only he can heal all her hurt, pain and resentment. I talked bout the importance of learning how to pray in everything with help with all things. I challenged her to search her heart to see if she had really forgiven her mother. I invited her to come to me and the staff with anything—to talk, to vent or just to cry.
As I was about to leave, I got the strong urge to tell her my story. As I began, I noticed her increased attention. I told her that she was very courageous and brave, because she is doing something I couldn’t.
I told her I understood her fears and her worries. I understood that as much as she wants to be alone, she longs for someone to talk to. I told her I am not perfect, and neither is anyone else here. We have all pasts and things God has redeemed us from. And I told her I loved God for that.
Fighting back tears
I could see a difference in her attitude. I gave her a huge hug and told her to not hesitate to grab me if she ever wants to talk. When I left her room, I had to fight back tears. It hurts my heart that at such a young age she has gone through so much. But immediately, I was reminded that nothing is too big for God. No one is too far for his saving grace.
DeEdra Branch, a student at the University of Houston, is serving this summer at The Living Vine Maternity Home in Savannah, Ga., with Go Now Missions.