Applying Biblical Truths To Women’s Lives
BOARD OF DIRECTORS Leigh Littrell Founder/Executive Director Skip Thompson Chairman Laura Hellard Treasurer Libby Brown Secretary Dr. Richard Bedsole Jack Fite Ruth Ann Fite Joe Lubisco John Underwood LEADERSHIP TEAM Leigh Littrell Laura Hellard Libby Brown Margaret Fudge RESIDENT MANAGERS Lisa Johnson Carol Atchley
As we celebrate Christmas and the love of our Savior, I’m so thankful for you, the body of Christ! You pour out and radiate His love to Refuge of Grace by giving of your time, talents and treasures in ways that can never be measured! His love is not only reflected through each of you to our residents and those we serve in the Morgan County Jail…I also see His grace and merciful love reflected through the amazing Refuge of Grace residents to each other, leadership and to everyone they are around. Their strength, courage, and discipline comes only from Him. They and their stories are His story! The story of lives being renewed day in and day out through living with and being around each of you, the body of Christ. Over the last 5 years, I’ve struggled to give an answer to the question “what exactly is Refuge of Grace?” The things that I know it’s not? It’s not a “program” or “rehab” like most would think of where women are encouraged to change in their own strength and willpower. It’s not a place that is so rigid a curriculum that there’s no room for individualism because each residents life story is so very different. Refuge of Grace is a place/ministry where lives are changed through the power, grace and truth of Jesus. It’s a place where precious women made in the image of our Savior, find their strength, courage, discipline and most of all hope that comes from Christ alone. It’s a place where abundant miracles happen daily! It’s a place where the body of Christ walks arm and arm daily with women and loves them and their families just as they are and just where they are in their daily walk of transformation! It is a place where the love of Christ radiates abundantly! I pray that you will take a quiet moment this Christmas season to slowly read and enjoy each article in our newsletter because you will not only find the reflection of each you, the body of Christ…but you will see Jesus! May each of you be blessed by the love of Christ this Christmas!
IN THIS ISSUE... COVER Leigh’s Message PAGE 2 Lolita Moves to Season 3 Volunteer Spotlight PAGE 3 Our Residents PAGE 4 Morgan County Jail Ministry PAGE 5 Fundraising Event BACK THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
“I learned of the ministry from reading the Decatur Daily online. While reading I learned of one of my elementary school classmates who was being helped by the ministry. I remembered her bright smile and how it had dimmed over the years as drugs and just life itself was taking its toll on her. I felt so helpless and sad that when I would see her around town I would never ask her if she remembered me because I didn’t want to embarrass her or myself. I don’t know if she remembers me or not but I have never forgotten her. So when I saw her in the paper and then heard her sing I thought GOD is so great. Look at her! Thank you GOD for this ministry! I saw the same smile I remembered seeing on the bus on our way to school. And I don’t know but somehow, it seemed brighter than I remembered. I immediately googled the ministry and offered to help in any way I could. I am not sure how often I can be available because of work and home but however I can help I will. “ - Refuge of Grace Volunteer
My name is Lolita Amerson. I came to Refuge of Grace August 2015 and on that day I would have never imagined that God had so many plans for my life. I have a closer relationship with Him and it is growing more and more each day. I have a great support group through Refuge of Grace, my mother, and the various volunteers that God has placed in my life. Susan and Larry Brooks are two of those who have loved me as well as help plan and coordinate my move into my third season. When I found out that I was moving into my own apartment, I was overjoyed. The staff at Decatur Heritage Christian Academy threw me a surprise pantry shower. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room. It was very emotional for me. I have never received such an outpouring of love except for the love of my parents. It was truly a remarkable day. I will forever be grateful. It feels great to have a home to call my own. I am truly
blessed. There was a multitude of people from Decatur Presbyterian Church as well as First Bible Church to help me move. It was amazing to see all those smiling faces to help me to move in and begin my new life as a new and redeemed woman of Christ. Ladies who love me “fluffed” and turned it into a home. My mom was there to share the joy of me moving to my new home. I am truly grateful for each person who helped with my move and donated beds, dresser, sofa, TV, washer, dryer, table and chairs and everything needed to have a home. God has truly restored everything in my life just as Joel 2:25 states: I will replay you for the years the locusts have eaten-the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locusts swarm-my great army that I sent among you. I am truly grateful to God, Refuge of Grace, my parents, and everyone who has poured and continues to pour into my life. I am so excited to see what God has planned for my life!
Having to be a responsible adult, on my own and a REAL mom to my kids is something I have never had to do but by the good grace of God I have had my kids for a year in a half, on my own since Feb and learning how to be responsible everyday. It’s a struggle and I worry a lot but when I do Matt 6:25-34 speaks volumes to me because in that message alone it lets me know that He is my provider and Sovereign over all. He has also provided a job to me with a boss who is beyond understanding and flexible and has put many women in my life that I can go to, to help me get through real life struggles, to spend time with me. They pray for me, show me grace, mercy, and forgiveness with a whole lot of love every single day. They are more then volunteers to me, they are my sisters in Christ and I will forever be grateful.
Thank you to Kim Ingram (pictured second from left) and Barbara Compton (pictured second from right) for coordinating the details for participating in the craft fair held at Decatur Baptist Church in November. We couldn’t have done it without you!
Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” When you see God at work in your life is the day that you can finally breathe and be at peace. I have been enjoying seeing my son, Nathan, and his amazing talent playing drums and marching as well as my daughter, Reannon, cheering and twirling. I recently was able to go home and visit my kids, momma and family. I can’t even begin to describe how great it was to sit with my son by the pond fishing and talking, holding my baby girl, playing football with my kids and nephews, listening to my son play keyboard, talking to my momma and hugging my brother. God is moving HUGE mountains and through his strength I am able to go through my days knowing through Him I can do this because I know He holds my future. I just recently found out I am moving into Season 3 and I am so excited. I have 2 special people in my life that is going to walk arm and arm with me as I move into a whole new future. Sitting still has been the hardest but best thing for me but knowing God is on time and trusting in His timing is what has brought me where I am today. God is real and He is doing amazing works at Refuge of Grace!!
“So that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” 1 Corinthians 2:5 I have been at Refuge of Grace for over a year now. The Lord continues to show me His amazing grace and mercy. Recently, I was given much mercy by the courts. I was able to walk in with my head held high knowing I wasn’t who I used to be. Only God made that possible! I also was given the opportunity to give my testimony at the annual fundraising dinner in late September. Never would I have thought it possible to experience so much freedom in telling of my past and sharing what God is doing in my life now. I also had the privilege to spend Thanksgiving with my family. It is the f irst time in f ive years! God is restoring everything I give to Him. God is on the move at Refuge at Grace.
I’m Tandra Smoots and I have been a resident at the ROG home for seven months. I am so grateful for the opportunity God has provided me to get my life back together as well as the god-fearing women He placed in my life to help make and mold me into the young lady God intends for me to be. I am so thankful to be able to volunteer at Decatur Heritage Christian Academy. I enjoy laughing, talking, and praying with the ladies there as well as the children which are a big impact on my life. I recently received good news that my one-year old son, Common Blessing, will be coming to live with me in the ROG home. The news made my heart smile. It’s amazing to know I will have my son with me and be able to help him grow spiritually and nurture him the way the Bible instructs. The thought alone excites me but also makes me anxious at the same time. I have to remember the words of Philippians 4 and trust God to give me the strength to be the mother He planned for me. “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come; she speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue” Proverbs 31:25-26
The Board of Directors and the Leadership Team would like to express their appreciation to Mr. Mark Moody, owner of MarMac Real Estate, and Mr. Kevin Chambers for their generous support. The residents assisted with MarMac’s annual golf tournament. Additionally, the leadership team and the residents attended MarMac’s appreciation luncheon and was presented with the proceeds from MarMac’s charities. Thank you for your generous support of the ministry.
God is on the move behind bars in our nation and throughout the world! Recently, Margaret Fudge and I had the privilege to go to Colorado Springs, Colorado as guests of Community Bible Study’s (CBS) In Prison and Beyond ministry. Before the trip we wondered what God had in store for us during our time in Colorado. It did not take us long to realize that we were there to be encouraged and to see how God is moving mountains in our nation and world! CBS In Prison and Beyond program started in 1998 and currently has 54 total classes in the United States. Thirty of those classes are in men’s prisons and jails. We met one married couple from Texas who drive two hours (one way) each week to minister to a group of ninety men one of these facilities! There are sixteen women’s classes, including ours in the Morgan County Jail. There are three juvenile detention classes. “Beyond” classes include those held outside penal facilities for ex-offenders, those recovering from addictions (like our class at Refuge of Grace), halfway houses and homeless shelters. There are currently five “Beyond” classes including two in migrant camps in Southern California! As the numbers show, many are hearing the Good News and opening God’s Word behind bars and beyond! We also learned during our training that twelve prison chaplains in the nation of Zambia were trained to begin CBS classes there! We’ve just completed our CBS study of the book of Ruth. It ends with the birth of baby Obed pointing to the coming of Christ, and why we celebrate Christmas! Each of the ladies in our class (40+) shared what they learned from Ruth. A few of their comments are as follows: • “I learned that no matter what the circumstances look like, God is doing things in my life better than I can ever imagine or see and that I need to learn to trust in Him.” • “Persevere through the trials, and He will bless you in the end. There is always hope.” • “You don’t have to get good to get God. Grace is something you don’t deserve.”
James by Community Bible Study 41 enrolled / 21 graduated Redeemed by Angela Thomas 43 enrolled / 24 graduated Ruth by Community Bible Study followed by The Christmas Experience by City on a Hill Productions 48 enrolled / class still in session
• God knows our needs and will provide them for us” To quote John Piper, “The word of God’s promise is like throwing open a great window of bright morning sun on the roaches of sin masquerading as satisfying pleasures in our hearts.” Thank you for your support; it allows us to throw the window open at the Morgan County Jail. We continue to covet your prayers for this part of the ministry.
99Washer 99Locking 4-drawer filing cabinet 99Individually-wrapped candy for jail ministry 99Chest of drawers
Refuge of Grace is a 501c3 ministry that seeks to break the bonds of women as they begin to live freely in Christ outside the confines of the Morgan County Jail and beyond.
Partering with Prison Fellowship Ministries
Refuge of Grace is a jail ministry and a residential program providing hope for determined women, and when possible their children, by providing a safe, loving environment in which lives are transformed, one heart at a time through the power, grace, and truth of Jesus Christ!
It was truly a joy to be a part of the 5th Annual Refuge of Grace fundraiser, â€œShine a Light.â€? I am so thankful for the way in which everything came together for this special night, and how people were so very generous with their time, gifts and resources. Over 250 people were in attendance for the fundraiser, which was held at the Double Tree Hotel on September 29th. Our program consisted of an employer testimony from Barry Keith, Owner/Operator of Chick Fil A, a special song from Lolita, an inspirational testimony from Kristi, introduction of our guest speaker by Senator Arthur Orr and Commissioner Jeff Dunn from the Alabama Department of Corrections. Commissioner Dunn shared with us some of the challenges facing our state prison system, but he also shared with us some of the triumphs he has seen in the lives of prisoners he has gotten to know during his time as head of the DOC. These victories remind us of the importance of reaching out to those in prisons and what a privilege it is to share the Gospel with them. This fundraiser would not have happened without the help of so many who care about and believe in this ministry. First of all, I would like to thank the Board for reaching out to and solidifying the individuals and businesses who sponsored tables for the fundraiser. We would also like to thank all of our sponsors for their generous support of Refuge of Grace. In the months leading up to the fundraiser, Jennie Marie McMasters offered up her creative talents by designing all promotional materials. Our friends at Southern Printing worked hard to get all of our promotional materials printed. Phil Waldrep Ministries kindly printed our programs. I would like to recognize Carol Atchely for ALL of her hard work in the days leading up to the fundraiser. Additionally, I would like to acknowledge Stefanie Underwood, who willingly offered up her gift for flower arranging by creating the centerpieces for the fundraiser. Katie Thompson was in charge of check in at the fundraiser, and was assisted by Jill Barran and Debbie Lanpere. Decatur Heritage graciously allowed us to use their sound system, and Stu Schieler from Decatur Presbyterian did an amazing job running the sound system. Caroline Thompson, Sarah Baker and Morgan Abercrombie graciously served as greeters. And, a special thank you to Cat Wyker, Lee Nabors, Weety Vickery, Fanny Adams, Hope Cheshier, and Sherry Fite for assisting with centerpieces and setup on the day of the event. Most of all, I am so very thankful for Leigh Littrell, Libby Brown, Laura Hellard, Margaret Fudge, Margie Thompson, and Katie Thompson for the great work they are doing in the lives of women in the Morgan County jail as well as those in the Refuge of Grace program. God is using them to pour into the lives of others, and this ministry is in such good hands with these precious women leading the way.
Mr. Skip Thompson by Carolyn Tweedy
Mrs. Anne Crane by Mary Malone
Mr. Skip Thompson by Susan Thompson
Mrs. Mary Ford Pheny by Mary Malone
Mrs. Susan Thompson by Gerri Lowrey
Mrs. Barbara Cauthen by Carolyn Tweedy
Mrs. Libby Brown by Adrian and Laurie Baker
Mrs. Dual McNalley by George and Sara Alice Godwin Mr. John D. Sherrill by Carolyn Tweedy
Mrs. Jeanette Lovin by George and Sara Alice Godwin
Mr. Jack Charlton by George and Sara Alice Godwin
Mrs. Tolly Shelton by George and Sara Alice Godwin
Mr.Dick Wilson by Jack and Sharon Bendall
Applying Biblical Truths To Women’s Lives
NON-PROFIT ORG US POSTAGE PAID DECATUR, AL PERMIT NO. 885
A Division of Never Alone Ministries, Inc. P.O. Box 1583 Decatur, Alabama 35702 256.686.1691
“And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’” May you and your family and home be filled with peace and thanksgiving for His marvelous good to you. Merry Christmas from the family of Refuge of Grace and blessings in the coming new year. It is only because of faithful donors and volunteers that Refuge of Grace has been able to minister to the women whom God places in our care. We covet your prayer, physical, and financial support. Your support is vital as we provide hope for women by seeking to transform their lives one heart at a time through the power, grace, and truth of Jesus Christ. Refuge of Grace is a 501c3 non-profit organization. Your gift is tax deductible to extent as allowed by law. Please make your check payable to Refuge of Grace and mail to P.O. Box 1583, Decatur, AL 35602.
Tandra wrote the following testimony about the impact Brad Eades, grief counselor with Hospice of the Valley, has had on her life. Thank you, Brad, for your compassionate care for the ladies of Refuge of Grace.
He Reminded Me He helps me get through my heartache and pain and reminds me that in this life with Christ I have nothing to lose but a lot to gain. I often thank God for his gift and the calling on his life and the stories he shares with me about his beautiful wife. Before our first session, I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. Looking back, if I hadn’t gone, it would have been my biggest regret. He walked a journey with me I didn’t see coming. He reminded me that I had to walk through it instead of running. He reminded me that the pain I felt may last awhile. He reminded me that I am not along in this and I am still God’s child. He reminded me that I haven’t lost my mind when I feel like I have. He reminded me that my pain will ease with time. He reminded me no one grieves the same. He reminded my that my life won’t always feel like I’m walking through the rain. He reminded me that I will see my mom again. He reminded me that God is sovereign and this was all part of His plan. God, I want to thank you for the good and the bad. I also want to thank you for Brad.
Printing courtesy of Cook’s Pest Control