The following blog was written by Charlene Jean-Pierre after our Gainesville Short-Term Trip, May 2nd-6th. You can read her personal blog HERE.
We would love to see you on one of our trips this year! Find out more at adventures.org/beautyforashes
“‘I will gather you…and bring you home again.’ (Zephaniah 3:20 NLT)
‘I will restore your fortunes.’ (Jeremiah 29:14, Zephaniah 3:20, NLT)
These were some of the phrases that the Holy Spirit gently whispered to me the morning after I arrived in Gainesville, GA over a week ago for a local missions trip with Beauty for Ashes.
Imagine my surprise and delight when we pulled up to a magnificent lake house where we would spend the next few days being ministered to and ministering to other women, who were survivors of victimization and sexual exploitation.
Women who are fearfully and wonderfully made and needed to be reminded this week of how truly valuable they are to God, in spite of, because of, and in the midst of their stories.
Brave women who fought through deep pain, wounds, difficult memories, brokenness, and shame in order to grab hold of and fully embrace their healing, restoration and the place where they always belonged…Home.
The scriptures above provide me with another perspective and new definition of what home can look like. I realize that home doesn’t have to be (and often times isn’t always) a physical place.
Home for me, this week, was crafted by this group of women as a place that was destined, a place of friendship, sweet fellowship, unexpected community, growth, healing, renewal and rejuvenation. It was different and yet, life giving and full of flowing mercy.
It was a special place where the Lord met each of us both individually and collectively.
Not only did the Lord so tenderly commune with us each day and in each session, but He truly did restore our fortunes.
Now I am not referring to fortunes that are defined by this world, but possessions and great treasures that are automatically ours, simply because we are His.
The Lord restored our immeasurable worth, which is sometimes forgotten, and the very honor of being known as His daughters.
In fact, “just be His daughter” was a phrase the manager of Beauty for Ashes spoke to us just before the women who were to be our guests arrived.
Our fortunes also included renewed hope for tomorrow, freedom to be the women God called us to be today and 15 new sisters. During the trip, we each walked out our own individual process of healing through drawing, prayer, worship and sharing our stories too.
Never have I witnessed a group of women come together so effortlessly and “almost instantaneously”, as one of our leaders put it, in such a loving way.
We embraced each other as sisters, almost as if we had all known each other all our lives.
It was evident in how we served one another, walked alongside each other, supported and encouraged one another and ministered to each other, just by being present.
While our stories were all different, the themes and emotions that came forth from our experiences, when woven together, created a beautiful melody that reflected God’s ability to bring light out of darkness, beauty out of ashes and joy out of pain.
We loved on one another, danced, laughed, cried, joked around, cooked, played games, and had late night chats together, all while doing the hard work God had called each of us to in our own path to healing, restoration and freedom.
We, in turn, became conduits and vessels for our other sisters, thus channeling the same healing and freedom that was won for us on the Cross so many years ago.
What a privilege and an honor it was to partner with God in this way. The memories of this experiences will be echoes felt in each of our lives and hearts from now until eternity when we finally gather forever with our King in our heavenly home.”