Joey and Sarita and Friendship

Maggie and Sarita at a baby shower for Sarita

Several years back we (Maggie and I) met a young couple at a local church. To say we became friends of sorts would be a bit of an understatement. As our time together grew, our familial love for each other grew as well. Eventually Joey and Sarita became a part of our lives spending time with us in our home and often sitting together during worship.

Time passed and Joey and Sarita decided to obey the Word and followed Christ in baptism. One of the most humbling moments in my life was when Joey asked me to baptize him. The profoundly moving moment in that was watching Joey then turn and baptize his young bride.

As time went on, we walked with Joey and Sarita through various trials. They too walked with us during some of our very own. Having them over to our home for dinner and discussion or for moments of intentional and often messy discipleship was common. In short, we grew to love them. This love was not always easy. At times, it was hard and uncomfortable.

After some time and some disagreement, Maggie and I moved on with our family to a new congregation and both Joey and Sarita expressed dissatisfaction with our reasoning. Despite that, they remained our brethren and they eventually followed us to our new church home.

Change Brings Burgeoning Tragedy

Sadly, with this change also came increasingly difficult marital problems for our beloved friends. Let it be said, as with all marriage problems Joey and Sarita each bore their own guilt in these struggles. Unfortunately, the longer these struggles went on the less responsive Joey became. Even under the heavy specter of church discipline Joey remained continually unrepentant. Sarita too struggled in her walk and found her faith faltering at times.

Eventually Joey’s rebellion led to hardening and he abandoned his family more than once. This ultimately culminated in his abandonment of his covenant marriage to Sarita almost two years ago. In walking away from his covenant bride, he also turned his back on the covenant children he had fathered. At the time he chose to walk away he left behind four children in dire need of their father.

Since this time Sarita has struggled with the apparent permanent loss of her husband. A man she has loved ferociously and often in failing ways. To this day she has not given up hope that God in His sovereign power and plan, would break Joey’s impenitent heart and draw him back to Himself.

To his credit, Joey has remained somewhat involved in the lives of his children. However, that involvement comes at great cost to the children and to Sarita. Many battles and arguments have been waged over custody and child support and Sarita has found herself in great debt in just trying to see herself fairly represented by a competent attorney who will fight doggedly for her.

For Sarita bad Turns to Worse

Worse still is the fact Sarita struggles simply to make ends meet on her current hourly income. Then, on top of this she is in need of a larger van to transport what will soon be five children all under the age of 7. This is further complicated by the reality that she is almost solely responsible for taking time off work when any of the children falls ill. Quite recently one of her daughters was so gravely ill that she needed to be hospitalized. So, not only is Sarita missing hours at work but she fears that her hold on steady employment is about to slip. If this were to happen, she would lose what little she does still have.

Now, with the COVID19 pandemic sweeping across the nation Sarita has seen that she is likely to be without work very quickly,as “non-essential” employees and even businesses are sent home for the sake of safety. No one would blame Sarita for feeling at times that God has abandoned her, and she has expressed as much to me in hundreds of conversations. But she still clings to God, growing every day in repentance and desire to do the right thing, even in the face of losing the great love of her life.

A Plea for the Church to be the Church to Sarita

As I have said, Sarita has been far from perfect in all of this. Her sins bear down on her in a way that doubles the burden of her broken covenant relationship. But I am not writing this to drag Sarita or Joey through the mud. I am writing this to appeal to the wider church at time of compounding crisis for my beloved little sister and her children.

When I call Sarita my little sister it isn’t done lightly. I have never had a sister in the flesh, and Sarita is perhaps the closest I have ever come. At times she seems more like a daughter because I tend to take her to the woodshed more than I should. But I love Sarita and her children as kin. Even with all the human and sinful frustrations that come with that. Moreover, I still love Joey and want nothing more than for him to return to the Lord that he once claimed purchased him with His own blood.

Sarita is as close as any woman can get to being a widow here on earth while her husband still lives. The husband of her youth has abandoned her in her youth and battles her for their children. As I have said, she fights hard to keep not only her job but her precious kids. Her church family has offered much help both in counsel and in material benefit. But her needs are far above what most can offer individually.

The Plea for Tangible Help

At this time of great national need, it may be asking much of those who read this to dig into their pockets yet again. But I am asking anyone who is capable of sending even a single dollar to do so. I can’t promise a financial windfall will befall you like the prosperity types would. I can’t tell you that you are planting a faith seed that will grow into a mustard tree of boon for Sarita and her children.

What I can tell you is that they are precious, and they need our help. If you have the wherewithal to do so would you consider sending a gift of any size in the name of the Lord? You will find Sarita’s PayPal here, and you can find her on Venmo as (@Sarita-Awdng). I will not do any laying on of guilt. If you can help, any amount will be appreciated more than you will know.

And above all, please lift Sarita and the children up to our Lord and plead with Him to comfort and guide them as this moves on.

Soli Deo Gloria!