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The Bible says if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation that the old is gone and the new has come. I remember a story that I once heard a preacher in Alabama tell. It’s a story about a young girl whose Grandma belonged to his church and the young girl’s parents had been killed years earlier and so this young girl was being raised by her grandmother. Grandma did the best she could to raise the girl right but somewhere down the line, the young girl got caught up in the wrong crowd, began using drugs and wandered away from home. At the age of 18, she left home to be with her friends and her drug addiction got worse and worse. Finally, to support her drug addiction, this young beautiful girl resorted to giving her body out to the highest bidder on a nightly basis. Years upon years, this went on, yet the grandmother never stopped praying for her granddaughter. Though the granddaughter refused to return home, Grandma still prayed for her and she had the church praying for her as well.
Years later, the young girl had had enough. She came back to Grandma’s house and like she did when she was younger, come Sunday she went to church.
When she walked in the door, the looks on the faces of the church members told the story. Praying for a prostitute is one thing but sitting next to one on Sunday morning is something entirely different. But when she took her seat, one of the old saints of the church walked up to her and sat next to her. And then another, and then another.
The preacher preached that day on the text ‘If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” And as he spoke on the love of Christ, this prostitute’s heart was warmed. And when he said that God’s love for us is unchanging, she teared up. And then when the invitation was given, this woman who had spent years on the streets giving her body out to a different man each night came forward to give her heart to Christ. With tears, she told the preacher her life story and asked if God could forgive all that.
The preacher said not only could He but He stands there waiting to forgive. The woman asked for forgiveness there at the altar and the preacher concluded the story with a statement that has stuck with me ever since and I hope it will stick with you as well. He said on that day, this girl came to the altar a prostitute but she left that altar a virgin. Because of what Jesus has accomplished for us on Easter, our Heavenly Father stands ready to forgive and make us brand new.
(Barry Robinson is the pastor of Williamstown United Methodist Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 859-823-5171.)