Veronica Louis shared how God changed her from a teenager who attempted suicide to becoming the hope-bearer of the homeless people in Kota Raya.
Her confident yet gentle and quiet spirit, is the result of ten years of molding – the day she said, “God, give me one more chance to live” on the hospital bed.
Veronica Louis or better known as Veron is a beautiful and smart girl. But growing up, she sought attention from her friends.
But unfortunately, bad company corrupts good character. (1 Cor 15:33) She hung out with the wrong crowd, coming home in the wee hours of the morning.
“I craved for attention from the friends I knew outside of school. They didn’t have good character and I ended up doing a lot of things. At that time, I felt nice because everything I did brought comfort to me.
“They made me feel important and appreciated for the first time. I thought that was what life is about,” she said, reminiscing her 15-year-old self.
However, her quest for attention did not fill her emptiness. In fact, she woke up one day at 17 years old. She decided to take her own life.
“I felt an emptiness that filled my heart. You can’t explain this emptiness. There was no hope. There was no way out. When I thought about my life, all I could think of was that I am worthless,” she said.
She could not picture her life, one year down the road. So, she decided to end her life by swallowing the medications kept in the house.
The next thing she knew – she was at the hospital. The doctor said that the massive medications she took affected her liver. She only had a 50 per cent chance to live.
“I could hear my mother crying beside me. When I heard her cry, I knew that my parents were always there for me but I never knew they loved me,” said Veron.
At that point, I said to God, ‘Give me a second chance. I will change my life and I will do everything to please you.’ I saw a hand coming down and my hand reached out to hold that hand,” she said.
Upon recovery, she found a way to a church through a friend. Although she was born in a Christian family, she neither knew the Bible nor had a relationship with Christ.
But the Word of God that touched her heart was 2 Timothy 1:7, shared by the pastor at church. It was the only Bible verse she knew!
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Tim 1:7)
“Every morning, when I felt discouraged in my life, that was the only Bible verse I would confess in. And without me realizing, the Word of God was so powerful that it broke a lot of addictions and fears for me.
“Practically, all of my friends knew that I attempted to take my life. How would my friends think of me? I had a difficult time. But I went through it even without me knowing it,” she said.
The pastor connected her with Pastor Justin and Pastor Jacquie Ryan who were also ministering in that same church. Every week, they would meet up with her in church. But Veron was hesitant to open up.
“Whenever someone talked to me about God at that time, I’d say, ‘Can you go and look at yourself first? Why are you talking to me? You don’t even know me?’ So, when anyone tried talking, there’d this wall I built,” said Veron.
She would be silent week after week… until one day, she finally broke down in tears. That was after two years the Ryans’ steadfast and faithful love towards her. She finally allowed God to began the healing work in her.
“I had built a wall so high because I did not want people to see the hurts I had. But if I hadn’t let God deal with the wall, He’d not be able to do anything in my life.
“God wanted to bring me to that place to mold me. But I had things stopping me. Sometimes, we need to just surrender and let God do what He needs to do. If you need to talk to a person, talk to a person,” she said.
The Ryan couple walked with Veron, day after day. They would call her every day! And through their unconditional love, Veron began to heal from a place of hopelessness to a place of hope.
Most of all, in her journey towards recovery, the Ryans helped Veron to discover the Will of God for her life. Praying on her knees for a year, she finally discovered God’s Will for her through His clear voice spoken to her.
“God said, ‘What I got you out of is what I am calling you into. So, go back to the people who are hopeless and give them hope.’ That’s how I know what I’m being called to do – to just comfort and love the street people, and to change their life completely,” she said.
The ministry is called H. O. P. E. Street Ministry, which stands for the acronym Helping Other People Excel. This ministry is under the One Voice Ministries founded and led by the Ryans.
So, on 31st March 2012, Veron began her first day of street ministry to the hopeless in Kota Raya.
Without any street ministry training, she took off to the streets of Kota Raya to hand out food with the Ryans. Carrying 40 bags of food, they waited for a street person to approach them. Every 15 minutes, one would approach before fleeing.
“That was what happened the first day. As much as we didn’t trust them, they didn’t trust us as well. It’s not easy for them to open up and talk to us,” she said.
But as a few months passed, the number of street persons approaching them rose to 90 people. They saw the genuineness of their heart.
“We didn’t only give out food. We also made a point to talk to them and get to know them,” she said.
After two years of faithful service, God spoke to the trio to move to a covered shelter, so that more can be done for the street people.
Renting a premise now, they share the gospel, worship, fellowship and do activities with the street people every alternate Saturday. They also pray for and counsel them, in addition to providing them food.
Recently, they have also started a Bible course, which awards every graduating street person with a certificate. One of them treasured the certificate so much that he even wanted it laminated.
And once in a while as well, opticians, doctors, and hairdresser would visit the premise to offer service for the street people.
“Our ministry is all about giving hope to the hopeless. We want to encourage the street people to build their life all over again. It is not easy. But with God, all things are possible.
“We are constantly sharing the gospel because the power in the Word of God. It is a double-edged sword. And we have seen how it has been working in their lives,” she said.
A memorable story Veron shared was how a 60-year-old man returned to his family in Malacca and got a job. After a business failure, he ended up on the streets for 10 years. Through their ministry, he became one of their regular visitors and accepted Christ! Recently, he even returned to financially bless the ministry.
“People would ask whether I am afraid of the streets. But the street people already knew us for three years. Kota Raya feels like home to me. Practically at every stop, I would see someone I know,” she said.
A street person even offered Veron full protection when he saw her passing out leaflets for the ministry alone. To make sure she is safe, he followed her the whole day until she returned to her car.
“The street people are actually very loving. They are like our family,” said Veron.
For example, she would meet up with a 80-year-old couple who had children but they stayed alone, with the street ministry volunteers. As one of the firstfruits who accepted Christ through their ministry, they would disciple the couple every Thursday night, teaching them about the Word of God. She shared that a large portion of the street people are elderly people.
Sometimes, even before they reached their rented premise at 8:15 AM, there would be people waiting for them already there.
“It’s also a place where people just want to come to us, to feel that comfort. They know that with us, they can trust us. They know that we are there to build them back,” said Veron, adding how they assist the street people to build their lives by finding them a job and reconciling them to their families.
And indeed, Veron has seen God’s miracles through the ministry. A 15-year-old runaway teenager worked for McDonalds, before he decided to reconcile with his family in Johor Bahru. Another street person from Sabah also reconciled with his 80-year-old mother who advertised for a search for him in the newspaper.
“When I was four years old, I used to see all these street people and beggars. I’d think to myself, ‘How nice if I had a big house. I could bring all these people into my house,’” Veron said.
Little did she know, she is now living out her dream! A bright-eyed girl whose future is redeemed in the hands of her Loving Father, Veronica Louis is now redeeming the future of the street people, one person at a time.
“Recently, we have also held a baptism service for the street people. And praise God that six of them got baptized and three of them accepted Christ. All Glory to God!” said Veron.
She added, “I must also say that my family has been a great inspiration to me as well, in supporting me and praying for my ministry. Every time I have a prayer request for the ministry, I would tell my mum and she would pray for me.”
Where the street people are – is where her second home and second family is.
Visit http://onevm.net/ for more information about H. O. P. E. street ministry, a sub ministry of the One Voice ministries under Pastor Justin and Pastor Jacquie Ryan.
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