Applying Biblical Truths To Women’s Lives
Each Wednesday, a team of ladies representing Refuge of Grace teach a Bible study inside the Morgan County Jail. What an awesome opportunity to be able to minister to the ladies, but a greater blessing is the impact each of the female inmates have on our team. BOARD OF DIRECTORS
“I’m so thankful for the Morgan County Jail”
Leigh Littrell Founder/Executive Director
“I’m so thankful God loved me enough to bring me back here and not leave me in my mess because I probably wouldn’t be alive right now.”
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
“I can honestly say I have no idea when I will ever get a court date, but I’m truly content and at peace about it. For once in my life, I feel safe and free!” We hear comments like these so very often from the ladies we serve in the Morgan County Jail. I think that’s what it’s like to be truly “free on the inside!” The name of the Bible we provide to the ladies is called Free on the Inside. These women, as well as the residents in the Refuge of Grace home, are learning what it’s like to be free on the inside no matter what the outside is like! Because of you, our prayer warriors, volunteers, and financial contributors, we are able to be the hands and feet of Christ to these beautiful women made in His image. They are women who have walked through pain and suffering that most of us could ever even know existed. The ladies in the MCJ and the residents in the home are truly my “heroes’. Christ is strengthening them day by day to overcome and let go of their past mistakes and pain. They know that the road ahead may will not be “easy,” but they know that they have the love of Christ with them whatever come what may. As you read this spring newsletter, you will indeed see how He is restoring all things one day at a time! Thank each of you for being a part of each of their stories. To God be all the glory!
IN THIS ISSUE... COVER Leigh’s Message Adrienne’s Testimony PAGE 2 Ashlee Moves to Season 3 PAGE 3 Our Residents PAGE 4 Volunteer Spotlight Appreciation Event PAGE 5 Morgan County Jail Ministry BACK Special Events THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
I can say it was very hard to write this article, harboring feelings of bitterness of being asked to leave the program. I wondered what was going to become of me and my life without the ladies directing it. I realized I was putting my worth as a person in a program and people and not in Christ as His child. That is the biggest step that I had to overcome. I learned it wasn’t the ministry of Refuge of Grace; it was the saving grace of my Lord and Savior. It made me realize my story wasn’t over. He wasn’t done with me. So, of course, I owe all the glory to Him but, without the foundation I received from my time spent at Refuge of Grace, I would never be where I am now reuniting with my son and my family. I’m still in the process of having my life transformed by the power of Jesus Christ.
Adrienne lives in Florida with her parents Jim and Vicki Barnard
So all praise to Him, the leadership and volunteers of Refuge of Grace, and everyone who supports this ministry. God bless and amen. “Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14
Lamentations reminds us “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself ‘the Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait on Him’ “. It was 33 months ago that I met the most amazing group of women while I was incarcerated at Morgan County Jail. I joined one of their classes and, after being around them, I wanted what they had. Little did I know at the time what I had missed out on for so much of my life. These ladies would come in and share two hours of their day and show us love that many of us hadn’t experienced in a while, if at all. I was accepted to become a resident at Refuge of Grace and I thought it to be like every other rehab that you hear about. I was excited to hurry up, do my time there, and move on with life. God has something different planned for me at Refuge of Grace. He showed me that if it was easy and I could complete a checklist, it wouldn’t be worth it. The different seasons that you go through is just preparation for the next step that God has planned for you to take but you are never alone. He is with you and so are His people. I have moved into Season 3 of the program and enjoying living in my own apartment. The day I moved was a huge blessing as evidenced in the pictures above. It was overwhelming how many people showed up to help that day and how by the end of the day, I was comfortable and ready to start life in my new home. I have two very special ladies in my life, Elizabeth Lee and Barbara Brownlee, who have come along side me to help me with everyday life struggles and finances. I am being taught by them how to handle life full of stresses and how to be a good steward of what God is blessing me with! There is comfort in knowing that they are only one call away and how they are always willing to help out no matter what! David and Stacy Fox blessed me with a vehicle, a way to get back and forth to work and visit my kids. I am pictured bottom left above with Mr. Fox. God is still blessing me with my full-time job at Entrusted Tees. I truly enjoy being a part of the team and I am so grateful to have a boss like Joe Lubisco who uses his business as a ministry. The business recently moved to a new location on Upper River Road where I am happy to serve as office manager. I am pictured in my new office top left. I am seeing my kids on the weekend and God is using that time to restore all that was broken. I am getting back into their lives and are now able to share in their memories. The bottom right photo is my brother Jayme, my daughter Reannon, me, my mom Susan, and my son Nathan. I have been impacted by so many people during my time at Refuge of Grace that I can’t put into words what it all means to me. If you don’t believe in Jesus or doubting His goodness, spend one day at Refuge of Grace and you will see how mighty God is and how powerful the ministry is! Thank you to leadership, who I now call my friends, for believing in me when I did not even know who “me” was!! Thank you to everyone for supporting and praying for the ministry. It is only through God and Refuge of Grace that I am able to stand confidently in who I was created to be!
Ashlee West 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
My name is Lolita Amerson and I have been at Refuge of Grace going on 21 months. I have been in my own apartment living independently for six months, which is truly a blessing. I have a great support team through the leadership at Refuge of Grace as well as the volunteers who take the time to be there for us. I have been blessed by Susan My dad and I and Larry Brooks who have also been walking beside me as I make the transition to be independent and on my own. I have maintained my full-time job at Chick-fil-A and just celebrated my one-year employment anniversary which is truly a blessing (see picture with Barry Keith below. I am also still volunteering at Decatur Heritage Christian Academy in the cafeteria which I love. God is still restoring the relationships with my family. I have been blessed with parents who love me and I know that I am just who 2nd Corinthians 5:17 says I am and that’s a new creation in Christ. I just can’t wait to see what else God has in store for my life.
Barry and I
Psalm116:6 “The Lord takes care of those unaware of danger; when I was in great need he saved me” My name is Ashley Thompson. I’m 27 years old and a resident of Refuge of Grace for two months. I can truly say this house and ministry are amazing works of God! It takes wonderful women who are truly sent from God and to work and take care of us the way they do. Mrs. Leigh Littrell and all of Leadership are all blessings. I thank God every day to be a part of this ministry. All of the volunteers are so devoted and you can feel and sense the love they have for, not only us, but for God. I always said if I just listened to momma years ago, things would be different! But I can’t say that anymore because if I had listened, I wouldn’t be at Refuge of Grace! We all have a story to tell. I’m so excited to begin this new chapter of my life in Christ! My beautiful daughter, Alexis, is 10 years old and the pride and joy of my life! I love my family, my mother, and my twin sister! This journey of a new life and memories are going to be amazing! I am so happy to be where I am today, not only here at ROG, but in my relationship with the Lord! 2 Timothy 2:25-26 “My Father and my God, Thank you for granting me repentance leading me to knowledge of the truth. Thank you for causing me to come to my senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who had taken me captive to do his will.”
My stepdad, me, and my mom
My name is Tandra and I have been a resident at Refuge of Grace for eleven months. I am so happy to have my son Common living in the Refuge of Grace home with me! I am thankful to my brother and sister-in-law, Brian and Tyshia Raymore, for bringing my son from Indiana to live with me. I am also grateful for their nurturing, providing, and teaching Common in my absence. They have also been by my side every step of the way. I recently became employed at Chick Fil A. I’m grateful to be able to provide for my son and me. Special thank you to Jack, Ruth Anne, Jay Robert, and Bob Fite for providing and setting up Common’s nursery. I want to thank Dr. Tanya de la Vergne and First Grace Child Development Center for their excellent care of my son. Words cannot express how grateful I am to know God has provided a host of loved ones to walk this journey with me that He intended!! Psalm 46:5 “God is within her. She will not fall; God will help her at break of day.”
My name is Shelly Burns and I am 33 years old. I’m so grateful that God has opened the door for me to be a resident at Refuge of Grace. During these first two months, He has really opened my eyes to the truth of who He is. I’m learning my new identity in Christ and discovering not only who I am but whose I am. I am a daughter of the King. I’m excited to continue this transformation process and see how He is going to use my story for His glory. “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare, and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11). This verse really speaks to me. I now have a future and hope. I know He will use me. God is giving me strength to walk this path of healing that I am on. I’m amazed to see His hands working in enormous ways already in my life. He is restoring the relationship with my 11-year old daughter, Emma, as well as with my dad, sister, and other family members. I’m thankful for His mercy and grace and the opportunity to become the mother and daughter I know that God is calling me to be. God is doing amazing things at Refuge of Grace and I’m truly blessed to be a part of it. Deuteronomy 31:8 says “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you, he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
In Season 2, the environment for the ladies of Refuge of Grace is, of necessity, very structured. Their decision-making responsibilities are limited to learning discipline and being immersed in the truths of God’s Word. That changes as they move to Season 3 and into their own apartment. Some of the life management decisions most of us face daily have not been previously encountered by these ladies or, at least, not for some time. The Leadership has wisely recognized the need for mentoring relationships to serve as a safety net and resource during this exciting new journey into increased independence and maturity. Since we have had years more experience in managing household responsibilities, ROG leadership asked us to help Lolita in her transition into her own apartment. It has been an amazing opportunity for both Lolita and us to watch God provide for ALL of her needs through so many of you who provided furniture, supplies and the actual moving energy to make her transition possible. We marveled as more and more items appeared at her door and, at the end of moving day, her apartment was fully furnished to make a nice, comfortable home. What a testament to God’s love for his beloved daughter! For the two of us, it is a joy to serve as mentors for Lolita—although we aren’t always sure who is mentoring who! What we are giving in regard to management of finances and setting up a household, we are receiving in experiencing Lolita’s unique zest for life and her amazing faith in God’s abiding love and care for her. It is truly fun to be a part of her remarkable journey!!
I began volunteering at Refuge of Grace in September 2016. I absolutely love it! At first, I met Tandra and we became immediate friends. We could simply sit and talk for hours with no awkwardness. We both poured into each other and became an encourager and prayer warrior for one another. When Shelly and Ashley were preparing to move into the house, I asked Tandra what activity I could do with them. We shared several ideas, but I didn’t feel like I had a skill or hobby the girls would be interested in. Tandra suggested that with all the Bible and book studies they would be doing, they would probably enjoy a time to relax and decompress, so we decided to have a weekly game time. As unimportant as it may sound, I think we have all enjoyed and benefited from our game time each week. Sometimes life can feel heavy and dark, but God’s Word tells us, “a cheerful heart is good medicine.” Two things I’ve learned through volunteering at Refuge of Grace are one, you don’t have to be a Bible scholar to make an impact for God’s kingdom and secondly, ministering to someone else will make a positive impact on yourself as well. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be a small part of this ministry.
Saturday morning, February 11, the Leadership of Refuge of Grace hosted its first annual volunteer appreciation event. We are so grateful for generous sharing of our faithful volunteers as they share their talents and skills with the ladies in the home. More than 55 people attended this event. A light lunch was served. Tours of the home were given. Lolita and Ashlee were able to take attendees to their home next door to see the bountiful provisions from so many of you. We are grateful for the body of Christ who support the ministry prayerfully, physically, and financially. Thank you!
Mr. Bill Sims, Jr. given by Dr. Bill and Betty Sims Mr. Bob Tweedy given by Mrs. Lyla Peebles Mr. Jack Charlton given by Mrs. Lyla Peebles Mr. Jim Tucker given by Mrs. Lyla Peebles Mrs. Beverly Stacy given by Mrs. Jean Colquitt Mrs. Debra S. Sims given by Mrs. Emily Shelton Mrs. Peggy Payne given by Mrs. Gayle Temple
Mr. Billy Littrell given by Mr. Charles Edwards Mr. Russell Millwood given by Mr. & Mrs. Charles Edwards
Skip and Margie Thompson given by Mrs. Susan Thompson Tom & Christy Lamb given by Doug and Mary South Mrs. Lila Gates given by Mrs. Ann Gebhart
Following our Ruth and Christmas study, we studied the book of Galatians inside the Morgan County Jail. It was the first time for us to use the Community Bible Study on Galatians in the jail and in the Refuge of Grace home as well. This book on freedom spoke loudly to all of us. Some of the comments that the ladies shared regarding what they learned in the book of Galatians are as follows: • “Christ has set us free, so stand firm in your faith.” • “A person cannot become right with God just by obeying the Law.” • “I learned a lot about walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh, to not be carnally minded but walk with Christ.” • “The grace of God and faith in Christ is what matters.” • “I’ve learned that because of the death of Jesus we are free and we need to stand firm.” • “God has set me free, it is up to me to stay free.” • “To just stand firm in our freedom. Always keep doing God’s will and have faith. Be gentle and kind with other believers who struggle but don’t let them ever hinder your walk with God.” The cross of Christ was given to each of us as we closed our study in thanksgiving for our weekly study together. It was a great demonstration of the Fruit of the Spirit. God is at work in the Morgan County Jail. We are grateful to have a window into His Mighty Hand at work. Thank you for your continued prayers!
Thank you to Jerry and Kym Davis and University Hyundai of Decatur for their generous support of Refuge of Grace. Jerry is the general manager of the local Hyundai dealership. Jerry and Kym presented a check for $8,000 to Libby Brown, Margaret Fudge, Leigh Littrell, Shelly Smith, and Ashley Thompson. The ministry is sustained by faithful supporters and is grateful for the partnership with Jerry and Kym.
The Christmas Experience City on a Hill Productions 34 participants Ruth Community Bible Study Inside 34 participants Galatians Community Bible Study Inside 19 participants The Easter Experience City on a Hill Productions featuring Kyle Idleman Class still in session
The Board of Refuge of Grace would like to thank Mr. Jack Fite and the employees of Fite Building Company for generously providing Christmas for the seven children of the ladies in the Refuge of Grace program. Their abundant gifts showered the each child with a few things on their wish list as well as outfitting the nursery for Tandra’s son who arrived December 17 in the Refuge of Grace home.
Applying Biblical Truths To Womenâ€™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
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.
REFUGE OF GRACE SPIRIT NIGHT! Thursday, May 4, 5:00pm - 8:00pm Plan to dine at the Decatur Chick-fil-A on Beltline Road, designate your support of Refuge of Grace before placing your order, and Chick-fil-A will donate a portion of your order to benefit the ministry. Faithful volunteers, alongside the Refuge of Grace Leadership Team and residents, will be there to refill your drinks and clean a table for you. Mr. Barry Keith, owner-operator of Decatur Chick-fil-A, has graciously extended this opportunity to Refuge of Grace. Additionally, he has provided employment for two of the residents. Thank you, Barry! We appreciate you very much and grateful for the opportunities you have extended to the ministry of Refuge of Grace and Lolita (pictured left) and Tandra (pictured right).
MARMAC CHARITY GOLF TOURNAMENT Friday, May 19 - Point Mallard Golf Course
Refuge of Grace is the recipient of MarMac Charities. The golf tournament is one of the ways MarMac raises money to support Refuge of Grace as well as other local missions. You may participate by forming a team of four golfers or donating door prizes. Please contact Kevin Chambers at Kevin@marmac.us to register or donate a door prize.