Faith with its Sleeves Rolled Up
Faith with its Sleeves Rolled Up

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A Mission Love Story

Holding Hands

A Love Story

Tim and Peggy came separately into the Mission when they were in their fifties. Both had spent the majority of their lives feeling unworthy and unloved.

There was nothing impressive about Tim. He had a slender build but the rest of his appearance was far from ordinary. His tattered clothes always sagged, causing the wrinkles to appear even more prominent and the mismatched colors more apparent. He suffered from severe eczema and as a result dry, crusted sores covered his face and arms. His greasy hair traveled in forty different directions and his glasses were broken so many times that even the duct tape holding them together was crooked and worn. His back was hunched and he walked with a limp.

Peggy’s thin and frail body was accentuated by the unusual look of her facial features. Her nose was long and pointed. Her chin appeared so sharp it seemed to stand out like a mountain peak below her light, receding lips. The rest of her features were completely concave causing her eyes to sink deep into her pale, uneven skin. The hair atop her disproportioned face was damaged and brittle.

Without knowing, it would be easy to mistake her for at least twenty years older than her actual age. Because of the judgmental nature of people, she could not find a job or friends and never found her place in life. Like Tim, through choices, rejections or a combination of both, she found herself with nowhere to turn. Rather than trying to survive on the streets, she opted for the security of shelter the Mission had  to offer. Since the inception, we’ve always tried our best to establish a place of acceptance for all. It doesn’t matter what you look like, what you smell like, or what you have done. Because of the undeserved and unfailing love of a holy God, all are invited to come in. Tim and Peggy were two individuals who had gone through the rejections of life but despite their uncomely looks were welcomed in by a group of people who held onto the understanding that all are valuable in the sight of God.

As time progressed, Tim and Peggy separately began to find not only acceptance but also started experiencing a unique transformation in their lives. They began to recognize not everyone was out to harm them and that there were now people around them who would genuinely love them as well. One of the incredible fruits of that understanding was they began to realize, in spite of their outward appearances, they were in fact people of value. In turn, they were able to begin valuing themselves. As this occurred, the freedom to express the same to others came. For the first time in both of their lives they were beginning to feel secure enough in themselves to reach out and express the incredible God-given gift of love to others.

Over time, Tim and Peggy began to find and develop a different kind of love: the indescribable love God gives between a man and a woman. After a significant period of time working through their own personal issues and receiving foundational counsel, the two decided they wanted to become husband  and wife.

Those of us who were there for the wedding had the privilege of witnessing what was likely the most incredible marriage ceremony there ever was. Tim, for probably the first time in his life, was wearing a neatly pressed tie with his oversized suit. His oily hair was neatly combed and he smiled from ear to ear as he took his place next to his best men, also friends and guests from  the Mission.

The splendor that shone upon Peggy was one that to this day I still cannot quite describe. Wearing a dazzling white dress, she linked arms with one of the older men from the Mission who escorted her down the aisle. As she slowly strolled down the aisle, she looked more like an angel gliding on clouds than the woman I had previously known. They both looked absolutely stunning as they smiled and joined hands at the altar.

For the first time, tears flowed from my eyes at a wedding. I couldn’t help but think we were no longer in a church, we were in heaven. As I gazed at the beauty before me, a brilliant light seemed to shine through the sanctuary. It was one of the most holy moments I can remember.

We left the church that day and Tim and Peggy went on to experience full contentment, acceptance and joy as husband and wife. Sadly, their journey was ended short when Tim contracted lung cancer. While Peggy faithfully stood by his side through it all, she was eventually left alone when he didn’t survive the treatments. Thankfully, the new friends and family she had acquired at the Mission stood by her side, embraced and accepted her into their home. There she was taken care of for the remainder of her days. It wasn’t too many years after Tim’s death that she too passed away.

I conducted both funerals for Tim and Peggy and found myself shedding tears once again. While the message of rejection had rung loud throughout their lives, I was now able to see the message of redemption that rang even louder. God had redeemed the time for these two and took what seemed so unattractive to the world and made it excessively beautiful in His time.

As their walls of rejection were torn down and one of acceptance was built, Tim and Peggy were able to receive a short glimpse of what their eternal life of reception, love and beauty would be. Today I am convinced both are enjoying the fullness of life with the God who brought them together and showed them their worth.

The story you just read is an excerpt taken from the newly released book, “In Darkness, a Light Still Shines.”

Dear Reader

In this life we may experience loneliness, rejection and low self-esteem. Tim and Peggy went through most of their lives experiencing devastating measures of all three. It was not until they were introduced to the true love of Jesus Christ they were able to discover their true beauty and the value and worth that was within. Suddenly, what the world had scorned and brushed aside was made glorious and beautiful, depicting one of the most amazing love stories of all… the story of Christ and
His bride.

Even when we feel unlovely, unworthy and unclean, Jesus looks at us for who we really are and sees our beauty. While we may have betrayed Him in the past or done things that have tarnished our lives, through His immense love and forgiveness, we are washed clean and able to stand at the altar of His heart for eternity (1 John 1:9). As we do, the rejections we have experienced in this world begin to fade away as we recognize the One whose heart beats fully for us. In the end we discover it is only His love and acceptance that really matters.

When Tim and Peggy began developing feelings for one another, they were like two teenagers in love. They spent nearly every waking moment together and it still was not enough to satisfy their desire to be with and know the other person more. Their love was what they thought of when they arose in the morning and laid down at night. Dreams of their wedding and the life they would spend together consumed their thoughts and brought joy to their hearts. Finally, the love and acceptance they had been deprived of for their entire lives was theirs. They became one and enjoyed the pleasures of a life filled with the richness of their love.

Even if you have never known such a love, the same can be yours through Jesus Christ. Coming to Him has never been just about finding a religion or going to church. It’s about intimacy… spending time with the One who loves you more than any other ever could. When we allow the walls of rejection, abandonment and hurt to fall away from our lives, we are able to then receive the full and passionate love He possesses for each one of us.

While it can be hard for our natural minds to comprehend, He loves each one of us as if there is only one of us to love. When we awake in the morning, we are on His mind. When we lay down to sleep at night, thoughts of us consume His heart (Psalm 40:17). His desire is for us to receive the fullness of love He has to give so that the rejections of man can harm us no more. When we are secure in His love, the acceptance from others no longer becomes our focus in life. Instead, He begins to consume our thoughts as our hearts begin to beat with an extreme passion for Him (Galatians 2:20).

At the Topeka Rescue Mission, we are grateful for all that God allows us to do on a daily basis, but we recognize that we could not do any of it effectively apart from His love. That is the same love we pray you would experience to a new degree in the days and months ahead. Thank you for your continued dedication, support and for showing us your love in so many invaluable ways.

Barry Feaker, Executive Director

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