“What’s your name?”

It’s most often the first question we’re asked at the start of each new school year, at a party, when meeting someone for the first time, at church, or in a new job. “What’s your name” is more than just a request for your given name and surname. Often, it’s a solicitation for your story. Where are you from? Who are your kin? Where do you belong? Our name anchors us to our identity.

In 2007, my husband Jeff went to Africa to serve with a ministry that was reaching men, women, and children who had been sexually abused as victims of the violent civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Part of his role was to pastor the team of ministers who came back each day from the outreach work full of stories of violence, rape, and horror. He also led worship for several gatherings, including for a group of prostituted women. Women, who because they were victims of rape, were forced from their families to the streets, simply to survive—losing the name of their people as they were cast out of their villages and abandoned. Impure. Dirty. Rejected.

In one of their worship sessions and prompted by the Holy Spirit, Jeff began to sing an old Vineyard song* over the women:

I will change your name
You shall no longer be called
Wounded, outcast
Lonely or afraid

I will change your name
Your new name shall be
Confidence, joyfulness
Overcoming one
Faithfulness, friend of God
One who seeks my face.

One by one, the women began to weep. And then to smile. And then to laugh and dance. In the reminder of their identity as God’s daughters, they found renewed strength. Freedom. Joy.

There is power and strength in knowing Whose we are—in naming our identity as the sons and daughters of God. Our strongest version of ourselves absolutely pales in comparison to the magnificence and power of the One who raised Jesus from the dead—the One who calls us by our name: Beloved.

ACTION: What false names have you been holding onto? Failure? Broken? Weak? Abandoned and rejected? Not good enough? Can you bring those names before the Father? What name is He offering you today? Will you receive it?

*I Will Change Your Name, DJ Butler, 1987, Mercy/Vineyard Music.


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