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Bertie sat quietly in the shade of an old mesquite tree as a silent breeze swirled the sand around her feet. Her heart was weary from a night spent in desperate prayer. She looked up as a black limousine with even blacker windows sped by. She wondered if the passengers were rich, famous, or maybe both. Did they even notice her? She followed her thoughts as she asked herself how she ever ended up in a place like this, looking like who knows what to those driving by.

She traced her life back to the small Oklahoma town where she grew up and thought, if my friends could see me now, sitting here a couple of blocks from downtown Las Vegas. I wonder what they would think.

 

Discouragement continued his shrewd pursuit. She thought, maybe I should just go back to Oklahoma. Life there is so much simpler compared to this place. I could help there just as I am here. Probably easier, too. She sighed deeply. This is so hard. Maybe this is a man’s job or someone more qualified than me. I don’t even know what I’m doing. Why did I ever think I could help such desperate people? The drugs. Their lifestyle. I don’t understand drug use or even know how to help them. I should just go home and leave this work to someone else better equipped. No one would blame me if I did.

Las Vegas. Even the name conjures up things not spoken of where she was from. A tough city where perversion and sin are celebrated openly while quietly leaving trails of shattered lives in its wake. Lives she was compelled to help. Strung out drug addicts. vagabond hippies and gamblers who’d lost everything for just “one more chance.” Then there were the church kids burned out on their parents’ religion. An unlikely group was flocking around her in this most unlikely place.

Many of her comrades, who had eagerly joined her in this mission, started moving away. One of her lifelong friends had just moved back to Oklahoma. Another left to minister on a Native American reservation. Even her closest friend had just moved to Texas. Everyone had good enough reasons for leaving, but it still didn’t ease her feelings of abandonment. She thought, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alone and so overwhelmed. At least I still have Betty. Betty was a kind, strong woman who was business smart and had the heart of a servant. Bertie depended on her and was very thankful she stayed, but an assignment this big, needed others willing to get into the trenches with her.

It was 1972, and she had many tough years behind her. But this? This was challenging her to the core. She whispered, “Father, You’ve never failed me.” She slowly drew a circle in the sand.

Discouragement took advantage of her exhaustion and continued to push darkness little by little into her thoughts. She was on the edge of anguish. The Father was watching. The Holy Spirit spoke softly. Soon she began thinking about all the impossible circumstances she had been through. Even during the pain of her most tremendous loss, when she didn’t know if she could go on, she never felt forsaken. She raised her head slowly and looked around. Her gaze stopped at the doorway of the building she was sitting in front of. She remembered the first time she saw this place and how impossible it seemed, but it all came together. Miracles had walked in and out of the building called “Powerhouse.”

An unseen being was leading the attack against Bertie’s mind. Discouragement’s assignment was clear as he remembered his commander's ear-piercing words, “Make her give up! Make her quit this time! You will pay hell if you fail again!”

Bertie slowly sat up and began pressing her lips tightly together. Looking straight ahead and not caring what any passerby thought of her, she spoke clearly, “I may not know what I should do now, but this I know: My Father sent me here to do a work for Him. He has never abandoned me, no matter how hard it has been. He won’t abandon me now. I may be the most unlikely person in this place, and things may look impossible, but He’s never let me down. I believe He will help me because He didn’t bring me here to fail. He loves the people in Las Vegas. Their crazy lives or sins won’t keep Him away. They just need someone to tell them how much He loves them. No one else may want these broken ones, but He does, and I will not walk away! Lord, I’m trusting in You. Forgive me for ever doubting You. You promised you would never leave me or forsake me.”

Discouragement and his wicked cohorts shrieked as they felt the pain of her words and could feel the presence of Alpha and Omega growing stronger. Oh, how they hated Him.

They quickly retreated as Discouragement said, “You are all so useless and powerless! Not to mention so very stupid!”

Another snapped, “It was your plan, and it failed again!”

 

“Shut up and keep moving,” replied Discouragement.  “There’s always next time.”

The Heavenly Father listened to his daughter’s cry and was keenly aware of the unseen adversaries surrounding her. He enveloped her with His peace and smiled with pleasure as He gazed into her eyes. Oh, how He loved her. He saw the desperate situation she faced and knew He could trust her to wait for the answers to come. He was especially happy about one. A beautiful dancer from the famous “Folies Bergère” topless cabaret show on the Las Vegas strip. A suicidal drug addict who had just been released from the local mental institution; a soon-to-be miracle; a most unlikely person in this most unlikely place; a beautiful broken one He so loved before the world began was on her way.

 

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You are His Precious Jewels - February 21, 1988 - Pastor Bertie
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