A Story of Freedom — By Bekah Mason
We are grateful and honored to have permission to publish Bekah Mason’s post (originally published on Give Her Wings). Bekah and Kat are two women who were more than happy to dedicate a few days to aid in the rescue of “Overcoming” (alias) and her daughter from an oppressive family. Overcoming had left an abusive marriage 3 years before but then found herself in another abusive situation with an dictatorial, cult-like church that, in no way, represents God’s people. As we, on the sidelines, “watched” how the story unfolded . . . how God used these incredible women to show His love to Overcoming . . . we wept, laughed, prayed . . . and, oh! What a privilege! Thank you, Bekah and Kat and all those who helped. And, thank you, Bekah for writing it all down. It is a great encouragement to all of us to hear and know about a victory. During the month of March, Give Her Wings is striving to help Overcoming and her daughter get back on their feet. We (at GHW) would like to be able to raise enough money to pay one or two months rent for an apartment to help them launch. If you are interested in taking part in our raffle or giving donations, please visit the website at Give Her Wings). Also, feel free to share this with anyone you know who may have a heart for helping “spiritual widows and orphans”. We had full permission from Barb & Jeff to post this. Meg
Here is the story of the miraculous rescue:
Ministry runs in the blood of my family. My grandfather, my uncle, and my father were or are involved in full time ministry. I’ve worked in church and counseling environments and currently teach in a local Christian school. In three generations of full time ministry, we’ve seen a lot of pain, a lot of heartache, a lot of failure and disappoint, horror and sheer disbelief.
Ministry often centers around helping the hurting, the broken, the forgotten. Give Her Wings is a ministry created to provide “gifts and money for mothers who have left abusive situations. Oftentimes, when a woman leaves an abusive marriage, she narrowly escapes with little more than her children and the clothes on her back. Give Her Wings desires to do all they can to help specific mothers who are living in very poor conditions presently.” Through monthly fundraisers, GHW gives love, support, and financial assistance to mothers who often feel alone, hopeless, forgotten.
But every once in a while, God places His children in a situation in which we get to physically step in and become the hands and feet of Jesus. We get to be a part of the rescue process, literally snatching someone from the flames of oppression and abuse. This is the situation in which I was blessed to find myself in the last couple of weeks.
This journey began nearly a month ago when Megan contacted me about a woman who lived within driving distance of me who had contacted her about her current living situation. Hoping to provide some support and encouragement, we exchanged emails, offered prayed, let her talk and process her experiences and current situation, and through the course of our conversations, I told Megan that I would just drive down and meet with her in person. Sometimes, people just need to know that they are seen and heard, and as invaluable as technology is to this ministry, you just can’t really provide that via social media.
So I hopped in the car with a fellow women’s ministry team member from my church, and we met “Overcoming” for dinner. We left broken hearted and convinced that this was a unique situation into which God had dropped Give Her Wings to be of special assistance to a woman and her daughter who had no where to go and no one to turn to for help.
From the stories we had heard, we had no idea what to expect. The family they had been staying with are members of a cult-like church, a group which emphasizes extreme patriarchy and teaches that men are not just the providers and protectors for their families, but are the priests (spiritual authority) and kings (total authority) of their homes and everyone living in them. This includes guests, and “Overcoming” and her daughter were increasingly expected to submit to his direction over their lives. Their movements were limited and monitored, they were expected to conform their lives to the habits and schedules of the family. They were told that they needed to submit their wills and their entire lives to the instruction and leading of the “Patriarch.” It appears the family hoped they would help with the house work and care of the family’s six children, and when it became apparent they would not, their connection to the internet was removed and a meeting with the church elders was demanded. At this point, “Overcoming” and her daughter left the home with a few belongings and headed to a hotel and we began planning to get down there to help them leave the house in which they were trapped. After long nights of prayer, longer days of phone calls, logistics, volunteer gathering, and number crunching, nearly a dozen people in 6 states had put together a plan.
This past Saturday, GHW ministry team member Kat, my friend Angela, and myself met at a local Starbucks and headed south, having no idea what we would encounter when we got there. Kat and I had never met, Kat and Angela had never met “Overcoming,” and the two men who were meeting us to load the moving truck were friends of a friend of another ministry team member. None of us had met the other team member or the two men. The miracle of technology brought together people united through the common bond of the Holy Spirit to do a work otherwise impossible to achieve.
Before long, we received a message from Kelley that said there was a problem with the moving truck. The one we had rented had been double booked, was I comfortable driving a 26’ truck instead? I called the rental company and told them that was fine, and we continued on our way.
When we arrived in the Home Depot parking lot, this greeted us:
I had seriously underestimated what 26’ looked like. And it’s diesel. I’d never driven a diesel. It had a power lift loading ramp. None of us had used one. But we laughed, prayed, and pulled out of the parking lot.
When we met “Overcoming” at the local grocery store, her daughter and our two “heavy lifters,” John and Brandon met us, too.
We did introductions, hugged, prayed, and headed to the house to begin gathering their belongings.
As soon as we arrived, “Patriarch” cooly took over. Without even a greeting or introduction, he asked us to turn the moving truck around by backing it down their curving driveway and backing it back up the driveway. When we struggled to do so, he did it himself. After opening the garage and showing John where the rest of the furniture was in the house, he left us to get to work.
Empty boxes were divided between “Patriarch’s” family and those belonging to “Overcoming.” When we ran out of boxes, we began using garbage bags. When time and space drew short, we asked “Overcoming” and her daughter to make the impossible decision of what was essential and what could stay here and potentially be replaced. His older daughters closely followed us, second guessing what belonged to whom and running back and forth into the house to report what we were doing.
When “Patriarch” came out to check progress, he asked questions of the entire group, I would answer, and he would direct his answers to John. It became quickly obvious that he was unwilling to converse with a woman, so we complied and John spoke with him from that point.
“Patriarch” did help John and Brandon move the largest and heaviest furniture downstairs, which was much appreciated. After that he was polite when he interacted with us, but kept his distance.
We quickly realized that there was much more to move than we had originally anticipated; our “wrong” moving truck was exactly what God knew we needed to accomplish the task He set before us that day.
As we sorted, packed, and loaded, the work became more oppressive. Trips inside the home revealed a cluttered, depressed building, full of children, but devoid of laughter, play, or joy. As the older girls followed us around, they asked piercingly honest questions of a child: “Are you glad you’re leaving? We’re glad you’re leaving because now we get our room back.” While “Overcoming” and her daughter had been sharing a bed in one room, four of the children had been sharing another room upstairs.
Around lunch time, “Patriarch” and his daughters offered us pizza and drinks to take a break from our work. Angela and Kat had an opportunity to talk with the wife. Please pray for her and their children, as their spirits seem crushed by the oppression in which they live.
At the same time, three teenage boys and two younger boys showed up at the house. We thought they were friends of “Overcoming” who had come to help, because they were very friendly and began carrying boxes without even being asked. When “Overcoming” came outside, however, they said hello and she asked them if they had talked to “Patriarch” yet. They went inside and never came back out. The next time I went inside, they were sitting around the kitchen table, Patriarch at the head of the table, sharing some sort of instructional time.
I will not forget the anger I felt flood over me as I watched a man train the manhood out of those boys. They inherently knew they needed to be helping us work, but instead, they repressed that urge and mindlessly obeyed the command of the man in authority over them. When they left about an hour later, they passed by the truck, heads dropped and silent.
While they were having their study time, I took a break from packing the truck and looked into the window of the kitchen. My mind flooded with memories of a friend who had escaped across an ocean to save her family from abuse and oppression. I thought about those young men, and “Patriarch’s” young children and wife. I thought about how unimaginable it was that Kat and I had just had to ask “Overcoming” to go through her belongings and decide what she was willing to leave behind.
I was done at that moment. And at that same moment, one of the young girls who had been wandering back and forth, chatting with us and helping as she could, came up to the truck and said, “This is for you.” I looked down and saw this:
Rev. 2:17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’ Whispers of mercy and reminders that He is here.
In the pain, oppression, anger. He was there. He is there still, with those kids. With their mother. With “Patriarch.” He is there, and He brings freedom. And that is my prayer.
My reaction to stress and trauma is to put my head down and get to work. I was feverishly focused on getting the truck safely packed. Two times that I distinctly remember, I stopped working and looked up to see Kat holding “Overcoming” in a tight hug, whispering prayers and words of hope in her ear as she wept under the weight of what was taking place. I was again reminded that God had assembled a random group of total strangers, each uniquely equipped to complete part of the task He had before us.
As the hours passed, we began to be concerned about the emotional toll this was taking on all of us, but especially our sweet mother and daughter. To help them prepare to walk away, we asked them again to seriously consider what they were willing to leave behind, and we moved only the items that were essential or particularly sentimental. We were unsure that a return trip would be possible, and if it were, we were fairly convinced that none of her belongings would be there when she returned.
Once the furniture was loaded, John and Brandon left, and we began praying that God would provide kind people at the storage unit to help us unload the things the men had loaded for us. Between heavy furniture, a freezer and a refrigerator, and an upright piano, we had no idea how were were going to get it into the storage unit.
The trip to the storage unit was light and uneventful. The relief felt by us all was tangible. The weight lifted from “Overcoming” and her daughter was physically seen. In just one week, there was a transformation in their body language, in their communication. There was light and hope in their eyes as we sat around a table at a fast food restaurant and listened to them continue to share.
We thought we were home free, but there were more surprises in store. While we were eating, God answered another prayer. Another family had heard that
“Overcoming” was moving her belongings and called to see if they could help. “YES!” was the answer they had received, and when we arrived at the storage unit, they were waiting for us!
Immediately issues began. As the sun began setting and a 9 pm deadline staring us down, we struggled to open the gate to the storage facility. Once it was opened, we hit a huge wall: the key “Overcoming” had been given on Thursday did not open the door to the climate control unit she had rented. After making multiple phone calls, getting disconnected from one person (we later found out that he had dropped his phone in toilet in the middle of the call!), and being unable to reach anyone else, we began to get desperate. Fatigue and frustration set in. “Overcoming” went to the facility across the street, hoping someone might be there who would rent one of their units to her.
There was no one on duty.
The gentleman who met us there attempted to jimmy the door to the unit open. It wouldn’t budge. We considered taking the door off the hinges, but decided that was a bit extreme. When we had run out of options, someone suggested that find some basic storage units and empty the truck into them until they could reach someone about the rented unit.
At that point, the tangible oppression we had felt only a few hours earlier was replaced by an equally tangible peace and joy that was inexpressible. We hugged “Overcoming” and her daughter, as well as our new friends who had come to save the day at the storage unit.und ourselves lifted out spirits, re-energized us, and we had the truck unloaded in less than an hour.
Kat, Angela and I left while we watched the rest of our little group continue to laugh and fellowship in the parking lot.
Before we even got back to the truck drop off center, I had received a call from “Overcoming,” and I nearly didn’t recognize her voice in the message. She was joyful, laughing, chatting freely. She saw a victory won. She had hope. She’d been given wings and had taken flight.