Finding Grace Through Despair
Throughout the month of March, we are devoting our blog to the women of the Charis House. Learn about 6 of our most recent Charis House graduates and discover how their lives have been transformed and repurposed by God. *Names have been changed to protect identities and allow a fresh start.
“I was married to a cook that cooked methamphetamine. He was very violent, mentally and physically. There’s probably not a bone in my body that hasn’t been broken. He broke several in my face. I’ve been burned. Had 2 ribs broken…my back broken. We were running from the police in a high speed chase and I flipped my car 3 times. I ended up in the back seat of the car and my feet were still in the front seat. He got out and ran.
At the age of 47, I was a full-blown meth addict. I had been using for 20+ years and had nothing to show for my life but 2 vehicles from a family inheritance, and a lot of arrests. I was in jail for violating my probation. (I had 2 domestic violence charges against me.) I had been in jail for 4 months prior to coming to the Charis House. I had lost all hope and purpose and my brokenness was beyond repair in my own eyes. I had turned into a very mean, angry, and irrational person. I prayed to God to please put me somewhere, to get me out of the situation I was in. I couldn’t get out of jail. I asked God to come into a jail cell and to give my life purpose again. I needed hope that only God could give me. I prayed daily, ‘Lord, please help my situation.’ I filled out an application for the Charis House and Ms. Debbe (Director of Women’s Recovery Ministries for Ministry Village) called the jail. I was brought a phone in my jail cell, and I was able to talk to Ms. Debbe, tell her what was going on in my life, and how long I had been on methamphetamines.”
Emily knew that the judge she was set to appear before had already said he planned to send her to prison. After her phone interview with the Charis House, Emily prayed that somehow, she would be able to go there for help instead of jail. “When I went to court, I looked up and the judge that was going to send me to prison was not there. I knew that God had removed that judge from the bench. Instead, I had a judge that day that believed in getting help for women and men, and he chose to send me to the Charis House. Deuteronomy 4:29 says, ‘If you seek Me with all of your heart, you will find Me.’ I knew that God had changed the circumstances to allow me to go to rehab and be able to relearn my life using God.”
Emily had been so angry while she was in jail. She fought with other prisoners every day. When she arrived at the Charis House, she was able to relax. “For once, I was able to cry, to let my guard down. That was tremendous for me. I can’t explain it. I just knew that God was working in me. Little by little, He was bringing back what I had learned as a child. To just enjoy life. To know that if you hurt, it’s okay to tell somebody that you hurt. That God can help you get through it – there’s nothing you can’t get through with Him. I never knew that you could have a relationship with God, and that you could be filled inside out. Jeremiah 29:11 says, ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you, not to harm you. Plans to give you a future and a hope.’ Little by little, the old person that once was in me – that hated life – that was filled with no purpose – had found herself.”
Emily fully participated in the Charis House recovery program, devoting herself to the classes and learning to lean on God. But her legal challenges were not over. “Six months into my recovery program, Satan was still determined to have a grip on my life. I learned that I had been indicted on a previous arrest, trafficking methamphetamine, carrying 15 to 97 years and would have to go back to court. Deuteronomy 31 says, ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, for the Lord your God goes with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you.’ I focused on that promise. In April 2019, I went back to that courthouse in Alabama, but I was not alone. Ms. Debbe, my family and God went with me. That day in April, I owned my mistakes.”
Though she faced multiple charges, Emily’s attorney was amazed at the changes she had made in her life over the past 16 months. She had completed one year in Phase I of the Charis House, found a job, and been accepted at Pensacola State College. Ministry Village sent letters on her behalf, testimonials of her progress, work ethic and accomplishments during her time with the Charis House. The assistant state’s attorney, a Christian, was excited to hear about and see the changes God had made in Emily’s life. When the judge reviewed the information from her attorney, he told her how proud he was of her for completing Phase I. He said he had ordered a lot of people to similar rehab programs, however, most of them never finish. He said that he could look at her and see how changed she was. The judge then asked Emily to tell him what she had done over the past year. She explained all the classes and activities she had completed and then replied, “I give all praise to God. He saved me and gave me a new heart and life.”
The judge and prosecutors agreed to drop all pending charges. She pled guilty to a plea deal, and was sentenced to complete it at the Charis House. Emily’s attorney, the state’s attorney, the judge, and several deputies from the sheriff’s department each told her how proud they were of her.
“We all have a story to tell. But we have a choice how it ends – in life or death. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, ‘Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come.’ The Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, reached down and pulled me from the depths of hell. He set my feet upon the rock solid foundation that I now walk with the Father every day. I am so grateful to Pastor Traylor and Olive Baptist Church for providing a home for women like me who are lost.”
Emily is currently in Phase 2 of the Charis House program and is working full-time at Ministry Village. She plans to regain custody of her 2 children and officially relocate to Pensacola. Emily prays she will find a job where she can support broken women who have gone down the same path, and minister to them with the hope only Jesus can provide.
✝️ The Charis House is a non-profit Christian-based residential substance abuse 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.
🙏 To donate to the Charis House or any Ministry Village program, click here.