Seeing God’s Grace and a Judge’s Mercy in Real-Time
It’s not unusual for residents of the Charis House to have outstanding legal charges and court dates when they start the program. Sadly, it’s often those poor choices and consequences that lead ladies to the Charis House program in the first place. If a woman has court appearances while under the supervision of the Charis House, Debbe Jefcoat, Director of Ladies Recovery Ministries for Ministry Village at Olive, accompanies her.
This past December, one Charis House resident – a recent Phase I graduate who has begun Phase II of the program – had such a court appearance. She faced multiple charges from August 2018, before she joined the Charis House. Her 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 has made in this woman’s life.
Ms. Debbe observed the day’s events at the courthouse. “The judge saw four cases before hers, and all four were sent to prison. But GOD! 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 programs; however, most of them never finish. He said he could look at her and see how changed she was.”
Mercy and grace are often linked together in biblical conversations. As explained on Christianity.com, a person receives charis or grace when he or she receives unmerited – i.e. undeserved – favor. You didn’t DO anything to earn it, but nevertheless, here is this blessing. Someone bestows mercy by withholding punishment that could rightly be given. During the court appearance, the judge asked the woman from the Charis House to tell him what she had accomplished 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.” God’s grace had come alive for those in the courtroom. She was living proof of God’s grace – it had changed her for everyone there to see.
And then…mercy. All pending charges were dropped. She does not have to go back to court. Her attorney, the state’s attorney, the judge, and several deputies from the sheriff’s department each told her how proud they were of her. “She was praising God out loud in the courtroom for everyone to hear,” said Ms. Debbe. “This turned out to be a blessed Christmas for her and a wonderful start to a New Year! What a mighty God we serve! Only He can change hearts like this!”
“…He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.” – Titus 3:5 NLT