Fried food wafted through the air. Some buildings smell like smoke, others like new carpet; this one smelled of food and fear. Neighbors peeked as Bert* knocked and announced, "Lansing Police Department..."
An opened door revealed a tenant in white: matching headband, blouse, sweater, skirt and shoes. With halting English, she invited us in.
In the few seconds between her invitation and Bert's decision to stay in the hallway, the 911 caller opened his door. Through a translating roommate, he explained how the lady in white had been terrorizing the entire floor. Her calm stare and smirk confirmed that she was not afraid of the police.
Bert took the statement and finding no cause for arrest, distributed personal protective order (PPO) information. On our way back to the cruiser, one of the downstairs neighbors ushered us into her apartment. Holding up one finger she gestured, "Be quiet...wait a minute," while speaking into the cell phone and offering the Google translation to Bert.
Her screen told a story of abuse, assault, sexuality and rage surrounding the neighbor in white. Her apartment was below the lady in the white clothing and she involuntarily heard and felt things through the ceiling. What she knew frightened her.
Speaking to the officer also frightened her. She resisted giving her name or filing a complaint because retaliation was probable. Seeing her torment, I whispered:
fear hath torment...(I John 4:18, KJV)
Google heard me and the translation flashed on her screen. When she read the translation, she began to nod and clap her hands. Worship followed as we connected around a shared faith. With tears, she let us know she believed in God, would avoid a public statement and just wanted authorities to know what was happening.
I let her know that Bert, and the Lansing Police Department, knew about what was going on. With more nodding, worship and translating she added, "...'ant taelam aydana" (Now you also know.)
"Yes, I know and I will tell the One who knows all."
"shukraan jazilana. klu ma 'uridah hu 'an yuerifah 'ahad. (Thank you. That's all I want, is for someone to know.)"
Before leaving Bert and I read the rest of I John 4:18 over her, held hands and whispered a prayer of protection.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. (I John 4:18)
She knew the words but our visit reinforced their meaning. She was fearful when we entered the apartment, but Christ changed her fear into faith. Through prayer, the Word and her testimony she reported feeling better.
We were able to minister in her apartment because:
- the Holy Spirit used a difficult situation for glorious ends;
- the Lansing Police Department has a chaplaincy;
- prayer partners cover the chaplaincy;
- financial partners strengthen the work.
Prayer from the Apartment:
"Lord, we gather under a ceiling that is tormenting Your daughter. She has heard and felt things she wants to forget. We bring her to You because fear involves torment; she is tormented today.
Thank You for sending Bert to be what she needs in this moment. We thank You in advance for sending the Holy Spirit to occupy this apartment. We believe that there is no fear in love but perfect love cast out fear. In the name of Jesus, we cast out the fear we found in this room.
We join our sister in trusting You to honor Your Word; to make her perfect in love by casting out fear, in the name of Jesus, amen.
* Fictitious name