On numerous blogs lately, I've been following Reba J. Hoffman's journey across country on her bicycle and have been touched by all the ways God is using her to help women break free from the fears that bind them. She has graciously agreed to share a piece of her story with us here on Writing to Inspire today. Thanks, Reba!
|Loading the gear--all 50 pounds of it!|
I’ve written for as long as I can remember. I’ve spoken for as long as I have a voice. And I’ve ridden a bicycle for half a century. I never thought combining those three activities would change lives.
On July 13th, I set off on a bicycle ride of sorts. I packed fifty pounds of gear onto it and set off in the direction of the west coast. God has commissioned me to travel around the country on my bicycle talking about women who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of a violent assault.
I never know where I’ll end up on any given day. I have no specific direction in mind, other than eventually the west coast. I pray and trust God to lead me to women (and now men) that I can encourage, minister to and help take steps to overcome the fear they face while in the clutches of PTSD.
Not a day has gone by that I have not met women who live in fear. Through tears they tell me their stories. I validate them. I also tell them that, no matter what they have been led to believe, they really are women of incredible value and worth.
One such woman had not been out of her home in seventeen years. She never left the four walls of her house after being attacked. When her cousin told her I was in town and what I was doing, she asked, “Why in the world would she do something like that?”
Her cousin simply said, “She’s doing it for you!”
|Reba shaking hands with Steve Beavers,|
a reporter for the Daily Corinthian newspaper
On wobbly legs, this prisoner of fear in her own home ventured out. She allowed her cousin to bring her to the town square where I was waiting. As she slowly made her way toward me, I stood with outstretched arms. I knew I could not go to her. She had to come to me.
When she finally closed the distance, she fell into my arms and sobbed for what seemed like years. She was purging herself of all the anguish. I then took her by the hand and said, “Let’s take a victory lap.”
Arm in arm she and I made our way around the town square. One by one, women joined us. We walked and cried in unity for the huge step this woman took in coming out of her safe haven.
I felt the strength returning to her frail body with each step we took. Finally, she turned to me and said, “Your words breathed life back into me.”
When the victory lap had been completed and women slowly began to walk away and back to their own lives, I was reminded of how powerful our words are. The spoken word. The written word. They all have the power of life and death in them.
I’m so grateful to have the privilege of riding my bicycle across country alone to help these women take back their life. Each day I see lives transform right in front of me. Women who had been held prisoner in their own homes after surviving a violent attack finally let go of the fear and move forward in life.
Dakota (my bike) and I are on a mission to set women free. We are not in a dress rehearsal. This is our one shot at life as we know it. I don’t want a single woman who survived being attacked to get to the end of their life, look back and realize they only existed through the life they should have abundantly lived through.
There really is life beyond survival. Through words of encouragement and healing, it breathes the breath of life back into someone. I urge you to join the life-saving mission. Help a woman overcome by speaking life into them. Tell them about my story and encourage them to follow my journey… the Road to Freedom Tour.
What fear have YOU faced lately? How have you felt God's freedom since facing it?