Tuesday, March 18, 2008

calvary chapel of the coastlands--part 6

The body of Christ is a beautiful thing.

I saw glimpses of that beauty in Texas -- testimonies that stood in sharp contrast to the dark injustice of Hannah's ordeal.

From the beginning, Pastor Rod and Noreen Carver, along with several other couples, did the dance of court-ordered guardianship for the Overton children. Larry and Hannah--then out on bail awaiting trial--were not allowed to be alone with their own children. So the body in Corpus Christi surrounded them. In rotating shifts, these families enabled the Overtons to stay together around the clock, albeit with witnesses. Nothing was easy during that time--a trip anywhere required a minimum of three cars to accommodate everyone and fulfill the court's requirements. But no one complained.

When lies prevailed and Hannah turned for one last look at her family, it was the body of Christ that did for her what she could not do herself. They held her children and comforted her husband and whispered the assurances most needed. They made meals and washed faces, brushed the girls' hair, stood by Larry's side at every court hearing, and clapped when Emma learned to roll over, and to sit up, and to crawl.

I met one woman who homeschools Hannah's children. I met another who can't wait for Wednesdays, when it's her turn to have the baby. Emma has twelve mothers now. There's something so clearly wrong about that, but also incomparably beautiful.

The body at Calvary Chapel of the Coastlands has written letters, petitioned officials, and endured hostility from those who believe the lies about Hannah. They've prayed faithfully. They've kept a steady flow of love-from-home letters to first one prison, and now another. They've brought Hannah worship.

It's that last image that brought me to tears during my visit. Anita, our retreat worship leader, explained how they did it. Before Hannah was moved 350 miles from Corpus, a large group of worshipers would gather on Tuesday evenings and unfurl large banners they'd made during the week. On the banners would be the name of whichever song they were singing. From her window on the fifth floor, Hannah--standing on tiptoe--would hold the song sheets they'd sent earlier. And though she couldn't hear a word of those songs, she'd follow the hand gestures the team had worked out for her ... and worship along with her church family.

The image has stayed with me. Now, whenever I think of the fellowship in Corpus Christi, I picture them pantomiming worship songs on the grass below the jail; the headlights of their cars trained on those banners, perhaps illuminating the mixture of joy and sorrow on their upturned expressions. And I envision Hannah, with just her eyes showing over the ledge of her fifth floor window.

This life is full of sharp edges and harsh tones, cruel jabs and empty promises. But God has provided a haven--sweet words to replace the bitter; a balm to soothe the blows, the hope of promise to counter the lies.

How beautiful is His bride.

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6 Comment:

At 3/18/2008 3:43 PM, Blogger Curlyqfun had this to say ...

That is Beautiful! I am living proof that the body of Christ is amazing! I wouldn't be the wife or mother that I am today without the CCM family!!

At 3/18/2008 7:12 PM, Blogger Kim had this to say ...

I find I'm crying with each post. I agree with Gina, beautiful!

At 3/19/2008 11:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous had this to say ...

Hi Shannon. We are going to a Pastors and Pastor's Wives Conference next Friday at CCMerritt Island, Fl. I went to their church site and found a prayer request for Mary Barrett. She has a very aggressive form of cancer and needs our prayers! Did you know about it? Her website is
http://www.marybarrett.com/Mary_Barrett/Mary_Barrett.html Thought you would like to know as she has been such a blessing to us at the PW retreats. Antoinette

At 3/19/2008 12:11 PM, Blogger Shannon had this to say ...

Gina, we've been so blessed to be a part of your life all these years and watch the beautiful things God has done in and for you. I watch you with Ellia and I feel so proud of you. You're such a gift to me!

Kim, I love knowing that you're praying for Hannah. Thank you for loving her. :)

Oh, Antoinette! I'm so sad to hear that news. I really love Mary Barrett. Thank you for letting me know--I will certainly be praying myself and will add her to our church prayer chain. She's such a treasure.

At 3/20/2008 7:26 AM, Anonymous Pam D. had this to say ...

Antoinette and Shannon: I just went to Mary Barrett's site and wanted to leave an encouraging word,but I couldn't figure out how to do it. So I thought I'd leave it here and maybe one of you could forward it on to her.
In Dec, my doctors found stage 1 cancer in my uterus and early in the ovary,but thankfully they were able to get it all thru hysterectomy and no treatments unless it were to return. But during that time God led me to so many beautiful scripture verses to pray (and they continue to uphold me and believe for lasting healing). Every one of them seemed to have to do with His Radiant Light poured out on us. The one that sticks in my mind the most is Habakkuk 3:4. It says that amazing radiance is pouring forth from God's very hands and there is great power therein. I began to pray that (and still am) -- that God would pour out His radiance on me to kill every cancer cell,and not only kill, but VANQUISH so they can't return. I wrote down many verses on index cards to keep praying and "feeding" to my spirit. God's Word holds his power too. Anyway, I will add Mary to my prayer list and just want to encourage her to speak His healing word over herself and to know others are too. God led me in Dec to re-read a Dutch Sheets book on intercessory prayer (called "Beginners Guide To...") I had read it prev to pray for others, but it gave me great encouragement in how to pray healing for myself too (not always so easy to pray for myself for some reason.) Please share Hab. 3:4 with her! :) May she hear His songs of deliverance over her! There are others I can't remember the exact verses for, but they talk about God sending rivers of healing living water over us to heal our wounds in the battle. That He Himself is like a mighty river of protection to us. I pray that over her every cell, every organ, every part of her... :)

At 3/20/2008 7:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous had this to say ...

Pam. If you go to Mary's website, click on guest book, and scroll down to the very bottom you will find "add a comment". I think it would be a blessing to her to have those verses. Lord bless <><


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