Natalia Martinez leans her head back against the pillow; the main light in the room is turned off, and it’s time for a final prayer before sleeping. This has been another demanding day, which is not unusual in her life. A life-long resident of the city of Armenia, Colombia, she shares deep sympathy for the young women she has come to know and love. At Christmas a year ago, nine young women graduated from the program she is so involved in.
One of the young women came late in her pregnancy, struggling to look anyone in the eye. Rubbing her extended tummy, she said, “Can you please help me? I really need someone to talk to!” Her baby was delivered soon afterward. This young woman came to love and respect Natalia after several deep conversations. Natalia learned how the home situation gradually sent the younger woman away, looking for love and affection. The father had never appeared; he was ashamed of how he had behaved.
Then there was the youngest of the women. Natalia closed her eyes momentarily, recalling the day this client appeared. She came in late to a worship service at the church where Pastor Andres Rincon was preaching. Leidy Paul and her husband, Jake, other LAM missionaries, sat with the young mother after everyone else had left, hearing the heart-throbbing story of abuse and cruelty that pulled at their heartstrings. Was she even physically old enough to deliver a child?
“We run a program just for you and others in the same situation,” Leidy said. “Please, let’s get together during our regular event this week. This is where and when we gather. There are more than a dozen of us, and our program is called El Nido, The Nest. It’s wonderful that you’ve come here. Who invited you? Would you like to tell me your story?”
That was the first of many conversations Leidy and Natalia had with the young women. Counseling, prayer sessions, appointments with a kind-hearted doctor, and weekly gatherings gradually revealed how she became an expectant mother.
Natalia, wondering how she could help so many others in the same situation, reached for her pen to write in her diary. “In El Nido, I can meet with the mommies and babies. I love this ministry and get caught up with the work done during the year. I support all our activities, and I carry on my administrative tasks.
“I work in the church, and it’s a great comfort. I’m with my family in the faith, sharing with friends and feeling their support and unconditional love. I so enjoy the time spent with the young mothers. We study the word of God together and pray for one another.
“All of us undergo a healing process. I want the prayers of LAM friends. Every day, I want my faith and gaze to be focused on the Lord, resting in the fact that everything is in His hands and that He is my hope and firm rock.”
It’s the end of the day, and just as Natalia has been a listening ear to troubled young women, she also rests in the Lord. Now, he listens to her thoughts. She knows that tomorrow will probably bring another newcomer to The Next. Her last thought is a prayer, “Thank you, Lord, for The Nest. I will find strength and comfort in you to share with all the expectant young women you bring to El Nido.”
Learn more about Natalia here: https://lamcanada.ca/missionary/78/natalia-martinez