Prayers Answered In God's Time

How can a former addicted homeless woman accomplish a task that the City of Portland could not do? Lisa may have been the girl Longfellow had in mind when he said, “When she was good she was very good indeed, but when she was bad she was horrid.”

Loveable, but addicted, Lisa did not do well in close quarters with others. This drove her to the streets, and the streets propelled her to criminal choices that had her arrested. In custody, she would fight with other inmates and end up in isolation.

Lisa then came to Jesus for help. She had a dual life. … Sometimes she acted sweet and caring. … Other times she brawled.

Lisa came to LifeChange in the late 90s receiving help but continued to swing on her pendulum. In us, we have a place where our strengths and weaknesses meet. One day the place housing Lisa’s faith and combativeness came together.prayer

The women in LifeChange received an invitation to go on a “prayer walk” to pray for Old Town Portland. When the group arrived at the corner of 4th Avenue and West Burnside Street, they stood in front of an adult bookstore. The shop had been the object of the city’s attention for years. Portland wanted the store gone, but the owner did not budge. Despite the efforts of officials to seize the store when a co-owner went to prison, the store remained until Lisa appeared on the scene!

With the group, Lisa decided to press her Bible against the building and asked God to tear the place down. A man approached the entrance, and Lisa aggressively asked if he really wanted to tick off God and enter? The man left, and the clerk came out quickly and demanded Lisa to leave (or at least leave his customers alone). He told her to get her Bible off his building or he would call the cops.

This idea gripped Lisa. She told the man, “I’ve been arrested for all kinds of things. I WANT to be arrested for praying. I WANT to be charged for using my Bible.” The clerk, indeed, called the police and an officer responded. He told Lisa that she would not cite her for prayer, but rather for trespass if she left her Bible pressed on his building. She said, “That’s OK, I already tore this place down in prayer. It’s over.”

This happened in February. … The building’s roof collapsed the first week of June. The city ordered the building unsafe, and the owner had to level it. Later, to get even with the city during occupy Portland, the owner let “Right to Dream Too” bring the homeless tent city onto the lot.

Nevertheless, as Paul Harvey would say, “Now you know the rest of the story.”

Lisa died earlier this month of liver failure and knew her bad choices wiped out her body. However, she also knew Jesus. She died singing “I Will Rise” and, indeed, she did.


The Courageous Women stories are by Executive Director at Union Gospel Mibill-russellssion, Bill Russell. Bill has been a leader at Union Gospel Mission for 25 years. He is the co-founder of Union Gospel Mission’s LifeChange recovery program. LifeChange helps men, women and children escape abuse, addiction and homelessness to transform their lives.




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