A New Life Has Begun
In honor of Women’s History Month, Ministry Village is devoting our blog throughout March to women from the Charis House. We will learn about 4 of our most recent Charis House graduates, read their stories, and discover how their lives have been transformed so they can pursue new paths and make contributions to our community.These ladies have learned from their own histories, and God has repurposed their lives. We pray that their stories inspire you to seek help if you need it yourself, or motivate you to help others who need a chance at redemption.
Julie* was raised by her mom who was an addict. “There were lots of things that I saw growing up that children shouldn’t see,” remembers Julie. “A lot of things I went through that made my life difficult. I had to be stronger than I should have. As a small child, I had to learn to take care of myself.” Julie didn’t get to spend much time with her father, which deepened her feelings of hurt. “I felt, unloved, abandoned – I wondered why he wasn’t in my life. I also wondered why my mom chose drugs and men over me.”
At just 12 years old, Julie started smoking cigarettes. By 13, she had moved on to marijuana. “I was trying to fit in with the people around me. Since my mom was an addict, I pretty much did what I wanted to do. But I still felt lonely. It didn’t matter how high I got, or how drunk I was, I still had a depression and a loneliness.”
In September 2003, Julie’s mom committed suicide by overdosing. “I carried a lot of guilt about how I had treated her. I was nasty and hateful to her. I said things I shouldn’t have. I yelled at her, cussed at her, asked her why she couldn’t get it together.” In order to numb her feelings of guilt and depression, Julie turned even more to drugs and alcohol. “I worked at a bar, so I would start drinking early in the morning, and using (drugs) early in the day just to try to numb my thoughts. I was arrested on cocaine charges, and shortly before going to court I found out I was pregnant. I was sentenced to 1 year and 1 day, so my son was born in prison. I wasn’t able to be there for him for more than 3 months of his early life. Then, when I got out of prison, I got pregnant with my daughter.”
Julie’s life was spinning out of control, and now she had two little lives depending on her. She had surrounded herself with the wrong people, and numbing her pain was barely helping her make it through each day. “I was sent to jail again for 5 months. It was actually on false charges, but I can see now, it was God’s way of getting me out of the mess that I was in. I learned about the Charis House, and wrote to Ms. Debbe. I didn’t hear anything back before I was released from jail. One day, five months after I was released, I just felt like I couldn’t make it anymore on my own strength. I knew my depression was coming back, and I was scared that I would give up. I called Ms. Debbe, and was admitted to the Charis House in June 2017.”
“I was so hopeless — full of guilt — full of shame. But God told me not to dwell on the way I was. Jeremiah 29:11 became an important verse to me. ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you, not harm you. Plans to give you a future and a hope.’ “
“I’m so grateful. The Charis House was not an accidental encounter. It was appointed by God. When I entered the program, I was not the same woman I am today. Yes, I went through some muddy water, but God went through it with me. While God has certainly done a transformation in me, He has also been restoring relationships in my family. My kids are amazing. They are smart. They are loving. They are kind. They are understanding.”
Julie stresses how important her relationship to God has become throughout her healing process. “I have definitely developed a closer relationship to God. It has changed me because it has taught me how to rely on the Holy Spirit instead of acting out so much in my flesh. He is teaching me that He has a much bigger and better plan for my life than the way I was living. God not only restored my hope, but He has placed a fire within me to reach out to others who feel hopeless. God has given me a brand new identity in him. I choose to walk in victory. I choose to be a vessel for God’s victory.”
“I want to thank Jesus for leaving the 99 and coming after the 1.”
✝️ To donate to the Charis House or any Ministry Village program, click here.
*Names have been changed to protect the identities of the women who are seeking a fresh start.