Mission: Full Circle

Written by Amanda Cunningham.

Sometimes we face devastating heartbreak in this world and are left feeling forgotten and hopeless- as if the pain will never release us from its grip.

You know there must be more beyond the suffering so you wish it all away. But when the orbit of life returns us to our pain, time and time again, the cycle begins to feel like an irreversible, downward spiral. This is how Reina Hurt felt most of her life- her past shackled to her heels, restricting her from the life she was created to live, until God lifted her burden and made her complete.

Reina was only two years old, living in a small town in Mexico, when her father died. Soon after his death, her mother left their eight children behind and headed to the United States to build a better life for them. Reina’s older siblings coped with their mother’s absence in their own ways and were not around much, except for one. Her eight-year-old sister mothered Reina for four years. She worked as much as she could and sold various items to passersby- whatever it took to survive. Some days they would have enough to eat, some days they would not. At six years old, Reina always knew God existed but she wondered why He would let this happen to her family.

Had He not brought my mom back, we would have starved to death.

“All those years we spent in Mexico without a mom or a dad, I learned to hate. I hated my dad for dying. I hated my mom for leaving and I learned to hate God. It took me a very long time to realize how much He loves me and that He truly becomes a father to the fatherless. Had He not brought my mom back, we would have starved to death.”

When her mom returned to Mexico, she gathered up her family and brought them to the States. They came in through the border town of Piedras Negras and rented a house in Dallas, right across the street from a church.

Reina learned to appreciate rice, beans, and tortillas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner because that meant she no longer went to bed hungry. And the pastor’s wife from the church across the street did not hesitate to reach out and fulfill a need. She helped Reina’s mother enroll her children in school. They worked together to create birth certificates using birth facts, brought all the children to get their immunizations, and she frequently surprised Reina and her siblings with milk and cookies- a treat they had not had in a very long time. But not everyone had the best of intentions and some took advantage of Reina’s vulnerability.

I thought God should have left me to die in Mexico instead of living through this darkness.

“Things happened to me as a child when we got to the States that shouldn’t happen to children. I often asked myself, if there is a God, where is He? I thought God should have left me to die in Mexico instead of living through this darkness. But the pastor’s wife was very, very kind. She was an angel to me and helped me through some of it. God has healed some of it too but these kinds of things are impossible to forget.”

At twelve years old, in the midst of yet another dark stage of her life, Reina didn’t feel safe anywhere. That summer, some of her friends from school were attending Cornerstone church and invited her to youth camp. And that camp was the first time she heard the Gospel of Jesus. She accepted Christ into her heart.

God gave me the perfect man for me.

Over the years, she had convinced herself no one would want to marry someone like her. But after hearing a pastor from church encourage the youth to be specific when they asked God for a spouse, Reina suddenly knew there was a man out there who loved her. So she started to pray specifically for a big man, a man in uniform who would help her feel safe and protected.

“When John and I started dating, he did not know my story. But he would pick me up every day from work and take me out to eat. God gave me the perfect man for me- a kind, gentle man who understands my issues with feeling fed and loves me and protects me well.” Reina married John Hurt, a deputy with the Dallas County Sherriff Department, as he sweetly towered over her on their wedding day on November 27, 1996