Charis House Retreat Provides Rest and Renewal
For the past 9 years, the Charis House ladies have been the grateful guests at a donated condo in Orange Beach’s Caribe Resort. Recently, 11 ladies and 4 staff members enjoyed 3 ½ days of renewal and relaxation, with special time to get to know each other on a more personal level in a beautiful, tranquil environment.
Debbe Jefcoat, the Director of the Charis House, said giving the ladies an opportunity for a retreat each year is important. “The work these ladies manage on a daily basis to simply put their lives back together can be stressful, as can living in such close quarters with one another. Going on this retreat each year gives them something so special to look forward to – a time to relax and really enjoy each other, and learn that it is possible to have fun and experience wonderful parts of life in wholesome ways.”
The regular daily schedule the ladies at the Charis House keep is not for the faint-hearted. Mornings start at 5:45 a.m. when the ladies gather at the kitchen table with their Bibles, to read God’s Word and pray. After personal devotions and prayer, they walk outside for 30 minutes of exercise, then head back in to eat breakfast, shower and prepare for the day.
Each week, the House Manager distributes ministry assignments to the residents. Each lady is responsible for some portion of daily life that contributes to everyone in the house – preparing meals, cleaning, laundry, etc. At 8:15 each morning, a devotion leader arrives to lead devotions for the house. The ladies then attend classes at the Charis House every day. Classes begin promptly at 9 a.m. and go until 10:30 a.m., then another class runs from 10:30 a.m. until noon. Classes cover a range of topics, from basic life skills like balancing a checkbook and managing finances, to more therapeutic topics like learning from addictive behavior and how to better cope with life’s stresses in constructive ways using Biblical principles.
Lunch is from 12 to 12:45 p.m., then it’s off to afternoon classes or activities depending on the day. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, the ladies volunteer at Olive Children’s Ministries or at the Ministry Village Bargain Center. On Tuesday afternoons, the ladies who are working to obtain their GEDs attend prep classes. Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoons are all times for work therapy at the Bargain Center. Evenings are also busy. On Tuesday evenings, everyone attends Most Excellent Way meetings at Olive, Wednesdays they attend a class at the Charis House or host a guest speaker, and on Sunday mornings and evenings, they attend Olive’s worship services.
The ladies in the Phase 2 house have outside jobs and attend classes at Pensacola State College, as well as attending Olive’s Most Excellent Way meetings, Wednesday evening church classes and Sunday services. If the Phase 2 ladies do not have outside work on Saturdays, they can be found volunteering at the Ministry Village Bargain Center alongside their Phase I sisters.
The fast pace of their daily schedules is exactly why the annual retreat time at the beach is so important. Taking time to be quiet—to be still—to just enjoy each others’ company without the daily pressures of work, gives the ladies and the staff members an opportunity to listen to each other on a more intimate level.
At the beach retreat, the ladies enjoyed swimming in the pool, floating down the lazy river, walking on the beach, and relaxing in the hot tub. Everyone was especially excited to go on a dolphin cruise during this year’s trip. There were daily devotions, Bible studies, encouraging times of prayer, and uplifting fellowship. The ladies returned from their retreat with a renewed spirit and sense of purpose – ready to continue facing their challenges, and reassured that they had built lifelong friendships and a sisterhood that would support each of them every step of the way.
❤️ There are many opportunities to help with the Charis House. Volunteers are needed to lead devotions, to lead morning walks, and to drive the ladies to and from work therapy and to and from classes at Pensacola State College. The Charis House also welcomes donations of meals, or simply food items that can be used toward each week’s grocery budget.
❤️ To learn more about how you can serve at the Charis House, contact Debbe Jefcoat at (850) 475-1116 or email her at DJefcoat@MinistryVillage.org.
❤️ To donate financially to the Charis House, click here.