Porsha slipped on her Easter dress and grinned. The boat-neck neckline covered her front and the dress fell mid shin. She grabbed her new cross necklace and put it on. The look was classic and simple, a perfect way to showcase her new self.
She was a new creation and what better day to celebrate than Jesus’ Resurrection. With a smile, she grabbed her Bible, nestled in its quilted cover, and her clutch. Her new best friend, Candace, was going to meet her at the church where they were having a sunrise service.
She had never been to a sunrise service before and was anxious. Just last week, she had been baptized to cement her new faith. Her mind thought back to the day she met Candace.
“Hello, my name is Alicia Carter and I’m an addict. Welcome to the meeting of Group 54 Narcotics Anonymous. Today we have a visitor. Candace Simmons from one of the local churches wants to share a message with you. Please welcome her.”
They all clapped. Porsha did it out of politeness, but had no intention of listening. What did a church girl know about her problems?
“Hello, my name is Candace Simmons and I’m an addict.”
What? She sat forward. How in the world was a church girl an addict? That was an oxymoron.
“I’ve been clean for ten years.”
Porsha’s heart thudded. She hadn’t wanted to listen to her, but now the need was overwhelming. How did a religious person end up an addict? And better yet, how had she been clean for ten years? Leonard and Alicia were the only ones in their group that been clean multiple years. Everyone else was still struggling.
“I wanted to tell you how I have stayed clean for so long. It’s because of a man. His name is Jesus. I accepted Him into my life when I was ten and thought life would be perfect forever. But at eighteen, I lost both of my parents in a freak car accident. Shortly after, I started using. Nothing dulled the pain. Nothing erased the heartache. Until one day, a pastor took the time to tell me about a Man who came to save us from a life of hurt. So now, I do my part and I visit open groups and share about His saving power.”
Porsha swallowed, feeling the woman’s pain. Was it possible Jesus could save her too? She always thought only good people could be Christians. But Candace hadn’t been good when the pastor found her.
“I’ll be here until the meeting is over. I have business cards to my church and I’ll answer any questions you may have. Thank you.”
This time, the clapping was subdued, but more heartfelt. Time passed slowly. Porsha bounced her leg waiting for group to end. She needed to talk to Candace. Needed to know how bad off she was before Jesus saved her. Was it too late for her?
She could only hope not.
Finally, Alicia closed the group. She stood up and was by Candace’s side in a matter of seconds.
“Hi, I’m Candace,” she said, holding out her hand.
“Hello, I’m Porsha.” She shook Candace’s hand, suddenly overcome with nerves.
“Did you have some questions?”
Porsha stared at her, suddenly wondering if she could even ask. There was no harm in asking…right? She took the plunge. “How bad off were you when the pastor found you? When Jesus saved you?”
Candace stepped closer. “I was using meth when the pastor found me.”
Porsha blinked. Meth was bad.
“But it really doesn’t matter,” Candace continued. “The beautiful thing about Jesus is it doesn’t matter how messed up we are, or what drugs we’re using, or what mistakes we have made. He’ll take us exactly how we are and turn us into someone new.”
“How is that possible?” she breathed out. “Why would He want to save someone like “Because He loves You Porsha.”
She blinked back tears at the memory. Those words were a balm to her soul and had been the first sign of hope she had had in years. She went to Candace’s church that Sunday and had been going ever since. It had been a struggle leaving her bad habits behind, but with God’s help she continued to take one day at a time.
Taking a calming breath, she stepped out of the car. Candace told her the sunrise service would be at the lake. Thankfully, it wasn’t too cold nor too hot. The church would have lawn chairs situated in front of the lake so that they could watch the sunrise as a church family. She shivered with the excitement. It had been so long since she had been a part of something. Something big. Something better than herself. She just prayed it wouldn’t be awkward. There was bond to be someone who knew her
from her past life. Candace told her not to worry. So she didn’t. Yet the closer she neared the lake, the more her anxiety increased. Lord, please help me stay calm. Please help me remember I’m a new creation.
“Amen,” she whispered.
She turned around the corner of the church, following the signs directing her to the sunrise service. Why wasn’t anyone else there? She swallowed, repeating her prayer to God. Her hands had gone clammy, her pulse jumped erratically in her neck. She turned another corner and stopped. The place was packed and everyone was facing her.
“Welcome to the family, Porsha Johnson!”
Her mouth dropped open as the congregation greeted her. She blinked, feeling tears welling in her eyes. Candace ran forward, wrapping her up in a hug.
“I’m so glad you’re here.” Candace pulled back with a smile. “Come, meet everyone.”
She walked forward, thanking God for a new found family.
Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Before pursuing her dream as a writer, Toni served in the United States Air Force. It was there she met her husband. After countless moves, they ended up in Virginia, where they are raising their two boys. When she’s not typing in imagination land, Toni enjoys reading, playing video games, making jewelry, and spending time with her family. You can find Toni online at: http://tonishiloh.weebly.com/