The Power of God's Love

Isabella's Story

When I came to The Fold four years ago, I didn’t fully realize the commitment I’d made to healing and recovery. I think a large part of me delighted in viewing myself as a pitiful victim, forced by emotional deprivation to set out on an inspiring exodus into rural Vermont. Another part of me, though, believed with a mustard seed of faith that perhaps someone there on that rural Vermont hill would finally disentangle me from myself. I didn’t know it at the time, but my tattered, battered soul had walked into an oasis of love.

Once, on a particularly difficult night, I caught the eye of Jenny, one of the Resident Instructors. While the other girls went down the stairs, Jenny and I stayed on the landing. In the quiet of the house, we sat down together on the floor. She wrapped her arms around me and bent her head in prayer. I stared at the wall, listening to her words, too tense to close my eyes. As she prayed, I saw a little drop land on my sleeve. Then another. Then another. She was crying over me. There was such love in each tear. Had she not cared so deeply for me, these tears would have been preserved inside her for her family, for her friends, for a dearer soul somewhere else. But to her in that moment, there was no dearer soul than me.

The staff shed tears over me as a wordless expression of their longing that I would hear the rhythm of God’s heart, beating for me.
— Isabella, Resident

So her tears landed there, on my sleeve. They fell for me. They didn’t come from any conjured up wave of emotion or a strained sense of duty. Jenny’s tears came from a heart that longed fervently for me to flourish, so fervently that her heart yearned in tears.

I didn’t see it fully then, but I do now. The staff shed tears over me as a wordless expression of their longing that I would hear the rhythm of God’s heart, beating for me. They wept because they yearned for me to see the imaginations about me in God’s thoughts, planning for my glorious unfolding. A heavenly wistfulness guides the men and women who care for students at The Fold. They are insatiably visionary. They envision the joy of a girl freed from her struggles before the girl does. They glimpse the exuberance and energy of a boy unshackled from his bondage before the boy himself dreams there could be something more than the addiction and the rage. The staff leans hard into their spiritual imagination. They believe with worn and warrior faith the promise that Christ makes all things new and that this includes students, in His own way and in His own timing. Though some days cause them to ache with compassion for students’ hurts, they cling to the reality that they will see “the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

That authentic overflow of wistful love is something I noticed often at The Fold. Deep faith in the power of Christ’s transformative love forms the very heart of the program. It’s the ember that warms resident instructors, teachers, counselors, and faculty during long days and human heartache.

So, they are wistful after Jesus’ promise of goodness for His precious children. They love, and laugh, and work as their souls trust in its fulfillment in each student’s life. They long to see the dreams of the King realized in the lives of the students. And they are warriors, fighting and praying daily that each student would discover his or her identity in Jesus. Teachers treat students individually – blending support and challenge so each may reach their potential. The school uses individualized curriculum, which allows students from various grades and educational backgrounds to progress at their own pace. The teachers build personal relationships with their students; through these relationships the teachers are able to know their students, to encourage them, and to speak truth into their academic efforts and personal lives.

Lizzie’s story is entirely unique. Yet her experience is shared with hundreds of other students who have also encountered the Father while at The Fold. Our purpose has always been to expose our teens to Jesus in tangible ways, and then watch as the Holy Spirit works in their lives. He brings life out of death. He transforms and makes all things new. He is creative and persistent in His love for us.

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