Graduating with Grace

As songs about Jesus’ grace and healing salvation rang out in the Worship Center at Olive Baptist Church, hands began to shoot up into the air from several pews near the altar. While voices sang from all over the sanctuary, the earnestness and desperate need to glorify God was on full display in those front pews – the pews that held the women of the Charis House. It was as if the songs were written specifically about their lives.

I was buried beneath my shame. Who could carry that kind of weight? It was my tomb, ‘til I met You. I was breathing, but not alive. All my failures I tried to hide. It was my tomb, ‘til I met You. You called my name and I ran out of that grave! Out of the darkness, into Your glorious day.

I needed rescue, my sin was heavy. But chains break at the weight of Your glory. I needed shelter, I was an orphan. But You call me a citizen of Heaven. When I was broken You were my healing, now Your love is the air that I’m breathing. I have a future, my eyes are open, ‘cause when you called my name, I ran out of that grave.

– Glorious Day – Passion featuring Kristian Stanfill

Pastor Ted Traylor welcomed the crowd and Jeremy Portmann, Executive Director of Ministry Village at Olive, opened the service in prayer. Then, singer Robert Lloyd performed a song written by country artist T. Graham Brown about his own struggle with addiction. The lyrics “I’m down and I can’t fall much farther, and once upon a time, You turned the water into wine. And now, on my knees, I’m turning to You, Father. Could You help me turn the wine back into water? once again spoke to the stories of so many who have felt the bondage of addiction in their lives.

Ms. Debbe Jefcoat, Director of Ladies Recovery Ministries, introduced the women who were graduating from Phase 1 of the Charis House Program that night and thanked everyone who had played a part in their recovery. “A lot of women enter the program, but don’t stay. Recovery is hard, but when we are weak, HE is strong. These women were ready to do whatever it took, and they are a blessing to us. Thank you to those who lead devotions, teach classes, volunteer services, give donations of all sorts. We are thankful for your work. Thank you to the Board of Directors at Ministry Village for their leadership and help in fundraising to provide for this program. Thank you to the church family at Olive Baptist whose generosity of giving has allowed us to provide a house of grace and a house of hope for these ladies. We couldn’t provide for them without your help. Thank you to Pastor Traylor for your obedience to God that led to opening Ministry Village and helping people in our community. Thank you to the team of House Managers and therapists who are in the trenches every day working with these women. And thanks to Jesus Christ because He is the only one who can change a heart. And as I tell the girls, if nothing changes…then nothing changes.”

Phase 1 of the Charis House program is described as the “healing” phase. The women face their addictions, the areas in their lives that led them into addiction, and the mistakes that they made. They learn to take responsibility for their actions, to heal and to make amends. Over the past year, the 6 women who graduated from Phase 1 of the Charis House completed 37 classes, 52 hours of professional counseling, a 12-step program, weekly Most Excellent Way meetings and volunteered 6 afternoons each week at one of the Ministry Village programs or through one of the ministries of Olive Baptist Church. Five of the women are moving into Phase 2 of the Charis House, which is described as the “growing” phase of the program. They will enjoy a bit more freedom, and begin working and attending college classes, taking steps toward the futures many of them thought were impossible.

The testimonies from each woman are emotional. Stories of young girls, many growing up in abusive, addictive homes. Some coming from Christian homes, with a knowledge of the Bible but no relationship with Jesus. Each of them looking for some way to fill a void in their lives – something they couldn’t shake. They tried drugs, sexual relationships, alcohol, crime – but each attempt to numb themselves just made the ache more desperate. Several of the women found themselves in jail with little or no hope of a way free from the cycle of addiction and violence they had begun.

But God.

God found them broken, hurting, and alone and He said “You are my child. I love you.” They each found their way to the Charis House – paths taken from different states and towns, but with eerily similar stories. The Charis House became their home – a place that represented unconditional love, grace, redemption, hope and a chance for a future.

Throughout the night of testimonies, tears were shed by the Charis House women, the teachers and mentors that have encouraged and loved them, and the families of the women who are beginning to heal relationships that were long considered broken. After each woman received her certificate of completion from Pastor Traylor, the crowd gave them a standing ovation.

Tears of sadness were shed for the young women who had lost so much. Families torn apart – innocence stolen – dreams shattered – years lost to addiction. But by the end of the evening, the tears of sadness had been replaced with tears of happiness and joy for the new lives these women have within reach. Futures possible because of their hard work, perseverance, and most importantly, the relationships they now have with Jesus – their Healer – their Redeemer – their Savior.

The testimonies of the women who graduated will be featured in future blogs.

🙏As Pastor Traylor said at the close of the Charis House graduation, the investment made through the Charis House is “eternal in nature, but not free. But it is a great return on your dollar.” To donate to the Charis House or any Ministry Village program, click here.

🎁Phase 3 of the program – Transitional Living – opened in June 2019 in the Esther House. If you would like to donate by helping to furnish the Esther House, visit our Amazon Wish List for a list of items they could use. Plus, if you purchase items through the Ministry Village AmazonSmile link, Amazon will donate a % of your purchase to Ministry Village at Olive – so it’s really like you’re giving twice!

🏠Sponsor the kitchen, sponsor a bedroom, provide a donation to purchase towels – whatever you’d like to do would be a blessing. Contact Debbe Jefcoat to learn how you can help. 850-475-1116

❤️To learn more about the Charis House, click here or contact Debbe Jefcoat at 850-475-1116 or DJefcoat@MinistryVillage.org.

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