Gloriana’s Story

I read a book once that defined guilt and shame and told the difference between them. Guilt is when you feel that you have DONE something wrong. Shame is when you feel that you ARE something wrong. I think that most of us have experience in both.

This week, I met Gloriana. Gloriana is four months pregnant and unmarried. She is also a Christian. And when she came to us this week for medical care, she was emotionally shattered and ashamed.

Everyone sins, but somehow when church folks find out that other church folks have sinned, they become shocked and outraged. I don’t know what Gloriana’s initial sin was, but whatever it was, it made the folks at her church angry. So angry in fact, that they told her that she could no longer lead the singing and that until further notice, she had to sit on the back row of the church and not worship with the rest of the church family.

At first, Gloriana felt guilty enough about her sin that she endured the punishment quietly. But after a few services of sitting in the back and being shunned, her guilt turned to shame and the shame blossomed into anger.

“If I can’t worship God with my church family, then why should I even come?” Gloriana sat in the back and watched the others worship, but when she would sing, the older women closest to her would turn around and frown. So, Gloriana stopped singing. These older church members had been going to church for much longer than she. If they were angry with her for worshiping, then God must be angry, too. And if God didn’t want her to worship, then maybe she just wouldn’t come to church at all. Maybe she should just go ahead and live however she wanted to.

And she did.

Gloriana lived close to the church and so she saw the church people often. She found out she was pregnant, but she couldn’t afford medical care. She couldn’t go to the church people for help and so she really wasn’t sure what she could do to take care of her baby. Then she heard that a group of gringo doctors were coming to another church in the neighborhood to give free medical care. She didn’t know if those church people would help her either, but for the sake of the baby, she had to try.

The day finally came when the Americans would be at the Iglesia Pentecostal at San Cristobal. Gloriana woke up vomiting, very early in the morning. She dressed in her nicest church clothes, hoping to look respectable enough to be accepted at the church. She looked in the mirror and was hopeful, but the closer she got to the church, the more scared she got. The nausea reminded her that she had a baby to think about and so she kept going anyway. And when she got to the church and saw the large crowd, she almost turned around to go home.

“They’re only taking 150 today!” The large man at the door shouted to the crowd and she watched them surge forward to try to snatch the numbers out of his hand. She couldn’t compete with this. But just as she stepped away to go home, the man turned her direction and handed a number to her: 97. Relief washed over her and she raised her umbrella against the early morning sun and found her place in line.

Nueve siete! Gloriana snapped to attention as they called her number and led her inside. It was almost four in the afternoon and the day had been exhausting. She wilted into the seat in front of the American lady and the black translator. They smiled at her and she thought she might cry.

The American lady talked strangely, but she smiled a lot. She made notes and put little plastic bags of pills into a paper bag with Gloriana’s name written on it. The black man translated: “These are for parasites. Take two each day for three days. And these are vitamins—very important for the baby. Take them every day. And the lady up front—that’s Sarita—she will give you something to help you stop vomiting. Stop at her desk before you leave, Sister.”

It was the term “sister” that undid Gloriana. She took the paper bag in her shaking hands and dropped her head. As the tears came, the white lady reached over and covered Gloriana’s hands with her own. Surprised, Gloriana looked up and met the lady’s eyes. She found concern there—and love. And before she could stop herself, she poured her story out to these two strangers.

Holding the hands of two strangers—one white English-speaking American lady and one black Haitian/Dominican man—Gloriana found her way home to Jesus. They told her that Jesus wasn’t mad at her and that He still loved her and that He still had a purpose for her. And that He had a purpose for this baby that she was carrying.

Gloriana didn’t just receive medicine that day at the Pentecostal Church at San Cristobal—she received life. She laid down her shackles of shame and walked home whole, instead of shattered.

About Sarah Salter


  1. It hurts my heart to think of the church turning it’s back on one of the sheep. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God, but together we help each other get back up and keep trying–trying our best to be more like Jesus. I’m so glad Gloriana found her way back to the Lord. Thankfully, our Heavenly Father will never “kick us out” or “make us feel like we don’t belong.” We always have a friend in Jesus.

  2. Barbara says:

    It does hurt that the church does that.. I am glad that she found her way and that she got a number to get in that day.. My goodness if that was the was or Jesus was none of us would ever make it.. no not one.


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