Encountering Faith

A single mom from Ecuador recently arrived and was struggling. We wanted to meet her and share about our programs, and with only an address, showing up was the best option. So that’s what I did.

It was a warm morning last Spring, and I stood at the entrance of Bilar’s apartment building, ringing the buzzer. There was no response, no neighbors around to let me in, and surprisingly, no cars in the parking lot.

I sat down to jot a note to Bilar and mumbled a prayer to God. “Lord, could you please open that door?” I was uttering the last word when a car pulled up in front of the building. A woman got out and gave me the side-eye.

“Good morning. I’m trying to get some information to a woman on the 3rd floor. Would it be possible to enter with you?” I asked.

“I can’t let you into this building unless you have permission from the neighbor you’re going to see,” replied the woman.

I tried again. “I work with a non-profit called Radical Love. We help refugees learn English and come into community. I’m just trying to get our program information to Bilar on the 3rd floor.”

After a long pause, the woman replied, “Follow me.” I walked behind her into the building and jogged up the three flights of stairs. I left the information at Bilar’s door and headed back down. The woman was standing there, waiting for me.

“Is your name Ellie?”

“Yes, but how did you know my name?”

She held up her phone and showed me the Radical Love website. “I looked you up.”

I was impressed and a little shocked. I sat down on the step next to her. “Radical Love, that’s us. You haven’t told me your name. What is it?”

“My name is Faith.

Of course it was. God has shown up time and time again in my life. Many times, I just haven’t been paying attention. He had my attention now, and I couldn’t help but smile.

Then Faith continued, “I came from Kenya in 1997 and have lived in this area ever since. I believe in Jesus and that we were supposed to meet here today. I would like to be part of what you are doing.”

Sometimes God doesn’t just open doors, He kicks them open, making His presence so very clear.

Faith arrived in the United States as a single mom with a young son and several members of her extended family. She’s been both the “helped” and the “helper.” She currently works as a counselor for a mental health hotline and is the organizer for the Keyna Marathon Dinner (she’s personal friends with the Kenyan who won the Chicago Marathon in October!) Faith is becoming more involved with Radical Love by sharing her gifts of language and connections with our refugee community. 

Most importantly, Faith is a follower of Jesus, who has walked alongside her through the darkest times in her life. She loves telling me, “Ellie, God is so good!” This woman, who has been persecuted and shut out of life as she knew it, continues to point toward Jesus.

She knows that He is where true JOY is found.

Faith (from Kenya) and Maria (from Congo) meeting for the first time at Community Christmas, speaking in their shared language of Swahili. They have endured so much hardship and sadness, but have the most beautiful faith and hope in Jesus. Their joyfulness radiates, and just being near them is a gift.