Right now we just came to the end of the darkest time in the year our city, La Vega, where New Hope is situated here in La Vega endures.
There is a tradition that started long ago in Italy... In catholicism the month before Easter is called “Lent” where individuals fast in different manners and prepare and cleanse themselves for the holiday and celebration. It became an excuse to essentially have a “month of the devil” where whatever the flesh desires is what the flesh will get, and then lent would always be there in order to do the cleansing thereafter.
Carnaval is the name of the celebration and has crossed into many different countries, cities, communities and the biggest celebration in this country happens to be in the city where New Hope calls home. We are KNOWN for our carnaval celebrations here in La Vega... And it is a true recipe for darkness, disaster, and a time where the strongholds that are rooted in our city rage and begin to torture their captives.
Many join out of ignorance, not realizing the evil that is permitted through the cities partaking in sinful indulgence, that has the potential to destroy and break down the inner workings of an entire city, across several communities.
These are the "demon" figures that parade around town during the event.
Unfortunately, our girls have had exposure over the years to Carnaval and for too long they have been fed to see it as the world sees it, a time of celebration and freedom rather than for what it truly is. Throughout the month of February they have been conditioned to look forward to Sunday afternoons, which is when Carnaval events take place, and hope that their families and neighbors would come by to scoop them up and bring them along.
However, this year, the Lord showed us that this was a battle we had to face head on. Because the Lord showed me that He already had something else for them... and it was going to be in place of what the enemy had been dangling in front of them for far too long. Years ago the Lord began to draw out Christians from the city and show them what HE had in mind for La Vega in place of Carnaval. An event was born called “United for Him” that is a series of concerts featuring Christian artists during the month of February. This has given way for the body of Christ to come together, to meet and sing and dance and enjoy in an environment filled with His Spirit and light.
We realized that this would be a weapon against the overwhelming darkness we were about to confront. I made it my goal to make sure that we made it there every single week and luckily there were many others that got on board and felt like this was what God was leading us and our girls in.
And when we finally entered into February.... I realized what everyone had been buzzing about... And I understood what they meant about the darkness.
Because even though we weren’t making out way down to the streets of La Vega along with everyone else from our city and barrio that didn’t mean the enemy didn’t try to work his way into the inside... Spreading lies and wreaking havoc, trying to deceive our girls of the very truth that is advocated to them day in and day out. The prince of the air, father of deception and temptation has been like a lion prowling around, looking for SOMEONE, SOMETHING, ANYTHING to devour.. and sometimes, it has really felt like he is winning...
We have to realize what we are up against here in this ministry, living in our barrio, facing the realities of the “streets”. Sometimes we ourselves are deceived and begin to blame our difficulties on what we SEE rather than what is in the UNSEEN and that just can’t be what we fall bak on... We have cried out for heightened senses to see beyond the chaos that ensues and realize what we are TRULY up against rather than what we see at first glance...
Generational sin, regional strongholds, traumatic pasts, broken hearts/minds/souls/bodies, lies and deception...
As we fell deeper into distress our hearts cried out more than ever for true DELIVERANCE in the midst of a raging storm.
But... Our VICTORY is the Lord’s... And this past Sunday was the last of February and the final concert of United for Him and with all glory to our King the girls made it through the whole month and didn’t miss ONE concert... They attended every single one of them!!!
To see these girls... Dancing, worshipping, pushing themselves to the front of the stage and celebrating their King; it was something that I will never ever forget.
One of our favorite artists sang at one of the concerts. Her name is Isabelle and we love her music and listen to it almost daily, she is also Dominican which makes her THAT much more special for our girls. With each of the songs that she sang I always had a little one on my shoulders and switched them out every time she began playing something new. It was as if I was presenting them to the Lord, bringing them TO HIM and saying, “Here you go Jesus!!! Here is YOUR child!!! I brought her here, I’m bringing her before you, and she will know your Name and worship it.”
At the final concert I had the opportunity to sing a few songs with a local worship band here in La Vega.
I felt an attack for most of the day... I questioned why I had ever said yes to this opportunity... Fear and discouragement began to sink in and I just wanted to get it over with instead of praising God for truly making one of my dreams come true. I spent my day with this inner voice of negativity parading around my mind speaking lies over me and it wasn’t until I was waiting for our band to go up next at the concert that I realized I had been overcome with selfishness and fear. As I began confessing to the Lord all that had been welling up within me during that day, FREEDOM began to break and overwhelming thankfulness enveloped my soul as I realized that this was INDEED a blessing from God himself.
As I mounted the stage... I began to peak over at those little faces that had flooded towards the front of the stage... Our group of little ones with their nannies and a few of our teachers... I looked down at them and was overcome with love for those girls that I care for so much. I did a little wave and it surprised them as I watched their faces change and them look at each other as if they were asking, “Corinne is actually waving at us right now while she's on stage?!” They even motioned for me to move more to the center of the stage because I had been hanging more on the side, away from the spot light, but with their encouragement I moved towards the center.
It all came together for me on that stage. The battle, the victory, the necessity for these girls to DREAM and SEE what God can do not only in someone’s life that is trying to lead them and love them and teach them about who they are in Christ, but also for them to grab hold of these dreams and experiences for themselves and believe that’s what God has for them in the making.
In the midst of it all, truly the battle continues, but we are certain that as we ask and seek there is something waiting as the other end of our prayers. God has given us AUTHORITY, a VOICE and a part in this great work and we are reminded that we are getting on board with HIS plans, dreams, and will for New Hope because by His power it is possible.