by Katy Engle
At the Royal Oak, Mich., Corps, I serve as women’s ministries secretary. I take encouragement from the faith and ministry of Lydia of Philippi who we read about in Acts 16. Like Lydia, I started as a “worshiper of God,” doing all the things religious people do. By the same Spirit that opened Lydia’s eyes, I found Christ to be the main objective of my life through the study of God’s Word.
It’s incredible that God that could change the heart of a person like Lydia. She enjoyed the comforts of wealth and social status. She checked off the box of being “good” by going to prayers on the Sabbath. All in all, she was self-reliant, which makes submitting her heart and life to Christ seemingly impossible, unless prompted by the Spirit. It’s beautiful to see God working in the hearts of those of us who blindly think we can save ourselves.
What really fuels my faith though is to see how God also relentlessly pursues two individuals described later in the same chapter. The text describes a nameless woman resigned to darkness, given into hopelessness and enslaved by abusers. Like so many of us, she mocked God until she found in Him the freedom, hope and light her heart desperately needed. Then we read of an aggressive Roman jailer, embittered from what he had seen and done under orders. God saw his heart, spoke to him through the Spirit (using the witness of Paul and Silas), and the jailer was saved from his anger and bitterness.
We can find our own testimonies somewhere in the testimonies of self-reliant Lydia, the hopeless unnamed woman, and the bitter Roman jailer, and learn of God’s compassion. He cares for every person and acts on our behalf.
This compassion drives my ministry as a Salvationist. It prompts me to ask, “How can I grow in my love for God?” and “How can I be a conduit of God’s love for others?”
I want to help the women God has entrusted to my care know that like Lydia, we have hope beyond what we can make for ourselves. Like the hopeless woman, we have light stronger than the darkness that would consume us. Like the bitter jailer, we have gentleness, grace and mercy from a sovereign God known for His love.