A Story of Redemption

 In charis house, Ministry Village

One of our most recent Phase 2 Charis House graduates recently moved back home to begin the next phase of her life. We at Ministry Village grew very fond of her – her helpful, spirited, loving personality brought joy and laughter to us all. We are so proud of the work that she has done in her recovery, and thankful to God that she accepted His calling and is walking with His grace into a redeemed life.

This is her story.

“I first entered the Charis House on November 22, 2019. I came straight from the Pike County Jail. It was a Friday. I had a choice between serving 3 years at Tutwieler Women’s Prison in Alabama, or trying this Christian women’s recovery facility in Pensacola. If I chose Pensacola, I would be required to stay at least one year. I chose Pensacola, and ended up staying 2 years, through Phase 2 of the Charis House.

As of November 3, 2021, I am no longer an inmate ‘doing my time’ in the community. Now I’m just your average Jane. And most importantly, I’m a child of God — restored and created new by the Master.

I came from a broken home (like most of us in the program do). My mom died when I was 8 years old. My father, who is an amazing man, dealt with his grief the only way he knew how. WORK. He ran from his grief, and he was gone for most of my teenage years, living in places like Cairo, Dubai, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, Jerusalem, and countless other places as one of the leading aviation mechanics in the world. My older sister and I moved from family member to family member. We knew they cared about us, but we always felt like a burden. Sometimes, we were teenagers with no adult supervision. And, of course, teenagers with no supervision will inevitably party more than any troubled teen should.

I pulled it together and graduated high school. I even attended a technical college and earned a degree in Medical Assisting. I was married for 13 years. Sadly, it was to a man that I would describe as extremely manipulative and narcissistic. A career criminal. Someone who didn’t know the Lord and didn’t want to. It was with him that I began to experiment with cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and prescription pills. I was what people called a ‘functioning drug addict,’ and was totally unaware of how lost I had become.

What really rocked my world is when I tried heroin. All it took was 1 time and I was instantly hooked. I ended up quitting my job, unable to function if I didn’t have my heroin fix. After 5 years, this very evil addiction had stolen everything I had including my self-esteem. My (now) ex-husband ended up going to jail, and we just parted ways. Immediately after that, I started the detoxing process. After 4 months of detoxing, I was able to start focusing on what I needed to do to pick up my life and start fresh. It probably would have worked except…I didn’t have Jesus.

After 1 year completely sober, I was working again, feeling great and feeling confident. THEN I met another man. He was someone that the enemy meant for evil, but God ultimately used the situation for my good.

With this new boyfriend, I tried crystal meth/crank/ice for the first time. I did not see how far or how fast I was falling back into the darkness. This man abused me. He would hold me down and burn me with a hair straightener; break my fingers; slam me through the walls; blacken my eyes; bloody my nose; and he even put a gun to the back of my head and left me on the side of a dark country road all by myself in the middle of the night. He would say things like,’I love you so much, but I’ve never wanted to hurt someone so bad.’ Knowing what I know now, it was the devil talking. After 2 years in this relationship, I hit rock bottom. I had acquired multiple felony drug charges. The state revoked my medical license. I had been so afraid to be alone that I endured hell on earth.

I had no hope, and felt like there was only darkness that surrounded me. I felt that if there was a God, He obviously didn’t care about me. So I did as many drugs as I could to soothe the self-inflicted pain I endured. I had no clue about the hurt I had deep down within myself from a life of rejection, fear, shame and guilt.

After serving more than a month in the Pike County Jail, my future looked as dim as my past. I sat there awake in the hallway on the cold floor crying out to the Lord. I had enough and I was ready to admit that I couldn’t do it. I needed a Savior. Heavens door flew wide open after that night.

My invitation to the Charis House was so unexpected, but so divinely planned. I arrived at Charis House on November 22, 2019 with an open mind and my first true feelings of hope. I had absolutely NO clue how much the Lord was going to move in my life while I was here. My first visit to Olive on Sunday, November 24, 2019 was the day I decided I was going to give myself entirely to Christ. Pastor Traylor was preaching on redemption, and the Holy Spirit grabbed me by the hand and pulled me up to the altar. I dedicated my life to Christ and was baptized by the Holy Spirit in that moment. One month later, I was baptized with water. I told Jesus that day in the water that since He promises to never leave me or forsake me, I would promise the same to Him. I was going all-in.

It has been 2 years since that day, and I am now the definition of a new creation. I opened up my heart – faced the hurts and the pain – and gave them to Jesus. We have such an amazing church family at Olive, as well as some truly amazing women who work with us so faithfully to understand God’s Word, God’s Love, and God’s Faithfulness. I have more than mere hope in this world. I have the Blessed Hope. I have the Holy Spirit. I have Discernment. I have Jesus Christ. And that alone is enough to give me all the Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control I need to run the good race.

I’m returning back to my home in Troy, Alabama on November 21, 2021, and I am definitely a little nervous — nervous about having to get into a new routine. But this was not a random decision. There was MUCH prayer in this choice I have made. And I’m stepping out in faith knowing that the Lord has already gone before me, and has a purpose and a plan for me. I plan on just living my new life in Christ. Helping out in my community. Spending time with my family. And leaving the door open for the Lord to work.

I have an amazing church family back home. Not nearly as big as Olive – our congregation has a staggering 24 members on a good sunshiny Sunday. But I know in my heart that the Lord is leading me in the direction I need to be. In His exact perfect timing.

Charis House gave me the tools I need to stay strong after my journey with them ends. And they are – and forever will be – my loving sisters in Christ.

Would you like to help bless the ladies of the Charis House and the work done through this life-changing ministry? There are several opportunities for you to help in a way that works best for you!

To encourage the ladies, Ms. Vanessa Bettis, Director of Women’s Recovery Ministries, is collecting donations for a bedroom makeover in the Charis House. If you’d like to sponsor a bedroom or shop for this ministry, here are the details-

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.

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.

 To learn more about the Charis House, click here or contact Vanessa Bettis at 850-475-1116 or VBettis@MinistryVillage.org.

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