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Shared, Sacred Ground

Sitting across the table from Veronica Ramos you can sense the deep waters that lie inside her. Her story is one of grace and beauty, true redemption straight out of the ashes. Her story now courageously laid bare so that others can find hope too. It’s inspiring to listen to Veronica talk about the way that Jesus faithfully pursued her and actively wooed her through the years. In spite of her confusion and pain, Veronica witnessed the ways that Jesus beautifully and intricately leaned in day by day to win her back to Himself.

Growing up in a single parent household with both an absent father and largely absent step-father, Veronica dealt with a sense of abandonment from a very young age. Memories of her childhood and the trailer park where she was raised may remain murky, but the day that a church bus rolled in is fresh in her mind. This bus not only held the kindest, sweetest women she’d ever met, but even more it held an invitation to belong to something. This something was different than anything she had ever experienced. Her weekly rides to church to attend Sunday School introduced her to a community full of peace, kindness, and a sweetness that her heart had longed for. At the age of 9, Veronica accepted Jesus into her heart because she simply wanted for herself what her teachers had. Her family moved shortly after and she didn’t quite know how to foster a relationship with this Jesus that she ached to know more of. Veronica would be the first to admit that despite her limited understanding the nearness of Jesus followed her throughout her childhood. He spoke and steadied her in unexpected ways. He carried her when she couldn’t even see Him working.

At the age of 10 Veronica was sexually abused and would go on being abused and raped by other men. The abuse she faced caused her to turn her back on God. Her heart hardened through the years as she wondered how a good God could allow such atrocities and suffering to happen to her. The trauma of this season led her to walk down many paths that she isn’t proud of. It took her on a journey of self-medicating through various means to try to cope and survive the horrific things that occurred. The abuse sparked in her a cycle of shame that unleashed struggles with depression, suicidal tendencies, and an inability to form functional relationships. The shame took her deeper into isolation as she withdrew from life in many arenas.

Even with Veronica’s brokenness and hard heart, Jesus remained close. Looking back now, Veronica reflects that during her pain-fueled rebellion, she would sense moments of Jesus patiently waiting on her to turn. “Jesus has just been beautiful to me,” she says, “He has always spoken quietly to my heart, wooing me along the way.” With no concept of a good father to turn to, Veronica still struggled to understand the kind of love that God was tenderly pouring out.

It was in her early 20’s that Veronica really sensed God working on her heart. It all started with a desire for her sweet son to have the opportunity to learn about God like she had as a child. The memories of riding that joy-filled church bus each Sunday flooded her mind. She wanted her son to learn about Jesus and choose for himself what he would believe. She had also settled in her mind that he wouldn’t have to go alone, like she had. Motivated by her son, Veronica started attending church again and met that same, kind Jesus she had encountered as a young child. She rededicated her life to Him at 22 and started an unexpected journey towards deep faith and healing.

“It was a hard time of fleshing out the pain God had allowed in my life and learning to trust Him with his plan and process,” says Veronica, “He slowly revealed his redemptive power through the process, gently nudging me to deal with the issues in my life, so that I can share His redemption with others. The most beautiful promise that He has shown me, which has played out before my eyes, is Isaiah 61:3. He has and certainly is giving me beauty for the large, ugly heap of ashes in my life. It has been the most beautiful journey to relationship with Him. He is so gentle and kind and He, unlike my abusers, never forces Himself on me. He has allowed me the space, time, and process to come to the deep fulfilling relationship that can only be found in Him.”

Over the years Veronica has bravely walked alongside Jesus, following His leading as she has learned to trust Him again. God has shown her the ways that He has healed and uniquely equipped her to work with broken and hurting women. Inspired by the incredible work Jesus has done in her own life, she is passionate about sharing her story. Veronica aches to help survivors of sexual abuse and human trafficking find true healing as they understand their immense value and beauty through the lens of Jesus’ love for them. “God wants me to be a mother to [these survivors],” says Veronica, “One who relentlessly pursues them and lets them know they are loved and cherished as Jesus restores them through a safe haven for healing.”

As Veronica looks back on the path behind her, it still pains her deeply. But there is hope. She has found meaning to her pain as she invites other survivors into a group that she now leads in the community. Any survivors are welcome – those who are desperate to be heard and healed are accepted into this safe space. It’s on this shared, sacred ground where Veronica has found deep purpose as she listens, comforts, and gently reminds people that there is life on the other side of abuse and brokenness. Veronica wants people inside and outside the church to know that Jesus really does take the wretched aspects of our lives and somehow, miraculously makes beautiful things.

 

Written By: Jenna Anderson || Photos By: Brooklyn Wagner

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