• Laura Alvarado-Newson

The woman at the bookstore

I will never forget that day. I was 19 yrs old, working at a Christian bookstore. It was really quiet that day and I was the only employee there. We had been having a major problem with Bible thefts so I was on alert for anything or anyone suspicious. I was in the music section reorganizing the CD's when I heard a thump. The sound came from the back, where the Bible section was. I walked over to find a woman standing there, staring at the Bibles. She didn't seem to see me, she grabbed a very expensive leather Bible and started to head towards the front of the store. First thing I noticed about her was her torn clothes, so torn that one side of her chest was completely exposed. Her hair was a mess, her makeup was smeared all over her face. I followed behind her. I was nervous, she didn't look like she was going to pay for the Bible. How do I stop her? Do I call the police? In that moment, I gained courage and called to her, "maam, may I help you?". She startled and turned around, she really didn't know I was behind her, she was shocked; looking down at the Bible in her hands, she began to cry and held the Bible out as to hand it back to me. I felt compelled to invite her to sit with me on the couch we had set up in the book section. She hesitated, but followed, we sat together, she kept her face down revealing a lot of shame; I proceeded to tell her that Jesus loved her. She said she was too far gone, had done things she regretted and that she didn't think God loved her. I made a bold statement and told her that if she took the step to say a prayer, accept Jesus in her heart and repent of her sins, Jesus was going to change her life. I had no idea how, but I knew He would. There was old alcohol flowing from her breath as she sobbed on the couch that day. She said the prayer with me and without a second thought I held her and told her everything was going to be ok. I had no idea if it was or not, this was the first time I stepped out of my churchy, miss-goody-two shoes, self-righteous world to really see, hear and listen to a broken woman with Jesus' ears and heart. I could tell that she had had a very rough night, who knew where she was, what she was doing or what was being done to her just hours before our meeting. After a long hug, I helped her up, gave her the Bible, pointed to the book of John, I told her "start here". She said she couldn't pay for it, I told her it was a gift from Jesus. I paid for it (just in case my ex-boss is reading this, hahaha). She thanked me multiple times and left with a ray of hope on her face. I felt different that day, I really felt like Jesus used me to show His love, I was never the same after that.

A year later, I was opening the store, organizing cash in the register when a woman walks in. A well-dressed woman, with a big smile on her face. She said, "do you remember me?" I looked at her and I said, "I'm sorry, I don't". She pointed towards the couches and took out a Bible from her tote bag. Oh my goodness!!! It was her, the bare chested, battered, broken woman from a year ago. She teared up and gave me a big hug. She told me that after meeting me and accepting Jesus, she mustered up the courage to reach out to her sister, she was a Christian. Her sister picked her up and helped her get clean, get a job, and find a church. I was on cloud nine for weeks. Who knew how much power love, compassion and the truth had.

This is what I'm getting at. I'm not sharing this story for applause or admiration. I am sharing this story because I am noticing so much bullying going on from "Christians" towards others. I am shocked at how mean the children of God are acting towards women who have had abortions and the LGBTQ community. Jesus did not call us to bully, He called us to love and speak the truth IN LOVE.

Did you know that adultery and fornication is sin? Did you know that lying and gossip is sin? Did you know that not returning the extra money the cashier gave you by accident is not God's blessing and if you don't return it, you are stealing and that's sin. Did you know that neglecting your children, your marriage, your relationship with God to protest, to become activists for God is a sin. I am still looking for the scriptures that justify bullying fellow sinners. The women who have abortions or those who choose to live alternate lifestyles are not a worse sinner, they are sinners like you and I. The difference is that we accepted Jesus and we are forgiven.

I am not talking about compromise. I am talking about speaking the truth in love, then lifting those struggling or on the wrong path in prayer. There is nowhere in scripture that says we are to fight or change laws or politics, this world will only get worse because of human nature and sin, there is nothing that says we are going to change and clean up this world of all sin with our opinions and self-righteousness. Only Jesus can do that. Yes, we can voice our opinion, combat evil with good. I have opinions, I know scriptures, but if we are bullying, mocking and belittling, we are now acting in the flesh. Jesus is coming back, and all of us will stand before the throne to receive judgment for our choices, good or bad. We are called to spread the good news, not bully. We are called to teach our children the Word of God, raise them to respect and love God, and they too, are given the right to choose their own path when we are done raising them. We have promises that if we raise them in the Lord, they may wander (like we all have) but they will return to the Lord.

I did not come to Jesus because I was bullied, insulted or beaten up by scripture. I came to the Lord because love, truth and grace was shared with me, and someone was praying for me.

I will raise my kids in the Word, Jesus is Lord of our home, and it is our duty, as parents to monitor what influences come into our home. I will teach my girls to be kind, to show Jesus' love and to always speak truth in love, at the same time, guarding their own hearts and minds, not allowing the world and its agendas to influence or confuse them.

Christians, let us remember, we were rescued from a life of sin, we are forgiven, we are not superior and sin is sin in God's eyes. Let us stop the bullying!

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