Following the Lord’s Path
Stories of addiction recovery are often full of battle scars, complete with triumphs and setbacks. At Ministry Village, we strive to make the victories outnumber the losses, keeping our focus on Jesus and His plan for every life that crosses our threshold. We count one of our Charis House graduates – Olivia – strongly in God’s victory column. Olivia is a joy to all who know her, and we wanted you to get a chance to know her too. Here is her story.
Olivia was accepted into the Charis House in October 2018 and graduated in May 2021. As she went through the program, learning why she had fallen so far and how she could reclaim her life, she gradually began to heal and to change. “God had so many layers of healing to work through. I came in hungry to know more of Him. I know in my heart that I really fully surrendered my life to him in January of 2019.”
As part of the Charis House program, the ladies work at the Ministry Village Bargain Center. Working at the Bargain Center provides structure and discipline for the women – many who have never before worked a steady job. Working at the Bargain Center becomes a tool to help them get back on their feet. They learn to work with a team. They learn to be accountable and dependable as employees. They gain work experience, organizational skills, and develop confidence and a sense of pride. And the Bargain Center team, led by Store Manager Julie Paden, loves the ladies tremendously. “The Charis House ladies make my job great,” says Julie. “Seeing them learn, grow and recover is a top priority for me. I love them like they are my own kids!”
As Olivia progressed through the Charis House program and completed Phase I, she began working at the Bargain Center more often, jumping in wherever she was needed. As she continued through the program and grew in confidence, Julie took notice. “Olivia has great customer service skills. She is so kind to everyone and remembers everyone’s names. She has a heart for the Lord and is really able to witness to people that come through the store – especially people who are in recovery and need a spiritual boost.” When a full-time position became available at the Bargain Center, Olivia was at the top of Julie’s list. “She is a sales associate, so she does a little bit of everything, from tagging and inventory to customer service.”
“We work together as a family and a team at the BC,” explains Olivia. “Working there is not just a job to me. We love one another like a family, and there is a lot of work that goes into keeping the store going daily. I have really grown to love the customers, and we get a lot of people who come in regularly so I do a lot of listening. I love the afternoons when the girls currently in the Charis House program come in to volunteer — they are my heart! I see myself in a lot of them and I get to see God working up close in their lives. I am truly blessed and know God placed me around them for such a time as this. It is a privilege to be able to encourage them and to talk to them about how Jesus changed me. I had been in addiction for close to twenty years and believed there was no hope – BUT GOD!!”
Julie had a front-row seat to the changes in Olivia’s life. “Olivia has done a complete turnaround. I have known her since she first started the program, and her heart is for the Lord 100%. She truly walks the walk and talks the talk in her life, and she sets a fantastic example for the Charis House ladies. She is a ray of sunshine and NEVER holds a grudge. She is the ultimate comeback story. This program is designed to help these ladies assimilate back into society in a sober way. It is crucial for them to learn how to work sober, and have opportunities to gain self-esteem and take personal responsibility for the things they do. If it weren’t for the Charis House, we probably would not have met Olivia, and I can say – without a doubt – that would have made our lives less.”
Olivia’s praise for the Charis House program knows no bounds. “I have so much I can say about the Charis House and how thankful I am! They showed me such love and support and just encouraged me on the days I did not think I could make it. It was not by accident that I went in there when I did. They gave me the hope that I have now learned to share with others. I am a little over three years clean now so praise be to God!”
While she truly loves working at the Bargain Center, Olivia is open to whatever plan God has for her life. “I pray about it daily. I want to become God-sufficient most of all, but also more self-sufficient. I want to be able to give back what God has given me, so whatever path I take and however it happens, I want to be obedient to Him.”
“He has a plan to prosper me and I praise Him for that.”
The Charis House is a non-profit Christian-based residential substance abuse recovery program for females. The program is designed in 3 phases, each offering stages of recovery that provide the necessary tools for a practical transition into a new lifestyle free of addiction. The faith-based recovery program addresses the client’s personal relationship with God as the foundation for healing and wholeness. It requires a willingness to change and adhere to a controlled, strict and disciplined environment, allowing life-changing experiences to occur. There is no fee to apply.
If you’d like to donate to the cost of a woman’s recovery through the Charis House, you can do that too! The cost to house and care for one woman for one year at the Charis House is more than $15,000; however, no one is turned away for inability to pay. Every dollar makes a difference in changing a life. If you wish to donate to the Charis House program, here are some ways you could help. (All costs are approximate guidelines.)
- $30 helps provide transportation to residents for one month.
- $100 provides one month of food for a client.
- $200 provides books for a resident’s classes for one year.
- $1,200 provides one month of room and board.
- $2,000 provides one year of licensed professional counseling in which all clients participate.
To make a donation to the Charis House, click here https://ministryvillage.org/donate/ .
Volunteers are needed daily to help with the Charis House. To learn more about volunteer opportunities at Ministry Village, click here https://www.ministryvillage.org/volunteer-registration/ or call (850) 476-1116.
The mission of Ministry Village at Olive is to put the words of Jesus into action throughout our community – “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40, NIV) If you are looking for a place to demonstrate kindness to others for the glory of God, give us a call. For more information on Ministry Village at Olive, Inc. and its work in the community, follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MinistryVillage, on Twitter @MinistryVillage, visit their website, MinistryVillage.org, or call (850) 473-4466.