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
When I think of Easter, I am reminded of the resurrection of Jesus and all things made new! With Easter comes the beauty of spring and it’s many colors. I have the honor and privilege, alongside leadership and volunteers, to see our Savior do the impossible in the lives of the Refuge of Grace residents and their families! A resident usually arrives with baggage, burdens, and darkness all of which seem impossible to change. Wounds from her past are too heavy to carry… fines too excessive to pay…too many wrongs to be made right…the list of doubts go on. As she begins to learn more about herself and who she is in Christ, she begins to surrender those heavy burdens that she was never made to carry and believes the words of 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” The ladies blossom into flowers of beautiful colors that only the light of the gospel can reveal. On the following pages, you will read the many ways the Lord is transforming lives. On page two, you will read about Ashley gaining custody of her daughters and moving into her own home. Also included are highlights about Ashlee and Lolita moving into Season 2 and gaining full-time employment. Kristi progresses with required curriculum and will begin volunteering in the community soon. This edition also welcomes Adrienne, our newest resident, who arrived a few weeks ago. Throughout the newsletter, you will read about the many hands and feet who make this ministry possible. The Board and Leadership are forever grateful and humbled claiming that His grace and mercy abounds!
LEADERSHIP TEAM Leigh Littrell Laura Hellard Libby Brown Margaret Fudge WEEKEND RESIDENT MANAGER Lisa Johnson
IN THIS ISSUE... COVER Leigh’s Message Jail Ministry PAGE 2 Ashley Borden PAGE 3 Our Residents A Graduate Update PAGE 4 Jail Ministry PAGE 5 Volunteer Spotlight & More BACK A Day in the Life of Refuge of Grace THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
First, as believers, we joyfully take part in jail ministry because we are commanded to go into ALL the world to preach the Good News (Matthew 28:20). Also, we follow the example of Christ who said, “it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” We recognize that every person, whether living on the outside or living within the confines of the Morgan County Jail, is a sinner who needs a rescue and a purpose to find FREEDOM! That rescue and purpose can only be found through a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. So, we go every Wednesday to share the Good News in hopes that every person will desire the freedom found in Christ. Each time we begin a new study (approximately every 6-8 weeks), we spend one Wednesday sharing the Good News with the ladies, a little bit about the ministry of Refuge of Grace, and why we come each and every week. In subsequent weeks, as we go through our study, we meet in small groups which allows us opportunities to get to know the women as they share their stories and ask questions about the Christian life and Christianity in general. Not every person in our class is a Christian or becomes one during their stay in jail; however, we rest in the fact that God’s Word NEVER returns empty but accomplishes His purposes (Isaiah 55:11). It is God who is in the results business; we are simply called to be His ambassadors. As ladies inquire about Refuge of Grace, not all are drawn to the length of its program. We are crock-pot people living in a microwave world! However, some women in our class sense that Refuge of Grace might be a fit and fill out an application. As an application is complete, we pray over the application, interview the applicant, and pray more. God’s will is sought for each applicant. In the past (and undoubtedly in the future), we have received residents who have elected to leave Refuge of Grace prior to graduation. The world might call that a failure; we do not. The resident has been prayed over and poured into during her time at Refuge of Grace. Again, it is God who is in the results business; we humbly go as the hands of feet of Christ gladly and boldly proclaiming the Good News!
I never thought in a million years I would be where I am now. I grew up in a broken home where fighting, drugs, and alcohol were present and hearts were broken. I was in church as a kid but never able to get a full understanding of who God was. When I was nine, I was diagnosed with depression and started smoking. I took my first pill at age 11, introduced to meth at 14, raped at 17, and from there, I quit school and started smoking crack. I have been in horrible situations that I shouldn’t even be alive. I was 20 when my oldest daughter, Jaslynn, was born. After a year, the only time I wasn’t doing drugs was when I was asleep. I was in and out of jail. In January 2014, I found out that I was pregnant with my youngest daughter Ciana. I was going on my way to have an abortion when I sensed someone (God!) saying “no”. I am so thankful because I am the proud mother of two daughters. That same night, I got busted for first-degree manufacturing. I didn’t care because I knew being pregnant was my ticket out of jail. I was released June 4th to have my daughter. But I went back to the same thing and ended up in jail three months later. It was then that I realized that I had two kids and that life wasn’t about me. I started going to church, taking classes, and trusting the Lord. In February 2014, I was introduced to Refuge of Grace. I never thought I would want to go to rehab but I knew that I had to do something. On August 20, 2014, I was court ordered to Refuge of Grace. I am so thankful God put me there to teach and enable me to deal with a lot of my baggage. God used leadership and everyone involved to teach me His word, lead, guide, advise, show true love and grace to me, and continue to be with me today. I will always be grateful. I earned my GED in January 2015. I was blessed with a part-time job at Habitat for Humanity after volunteering there for four months. They became family and I appreciate every one of them. The Lord blessed me with custody of my girls June 2015. The ministry of First Grace took them in, held their arms wide open, and I love every one of them. I can’t express how thankful I am for Laura Vines and all involved. At the end of July, Joe Lubisco gave me a full-time job at Entrusted Tees. His family has a special place in my heart.
In February 2016, I learned that I would move to my own apartment and all I could do was cry. I was excited and it was unexpected. I was nervous but happy. I was ready to be out with my children but I had a bond with the ladies in the house and was comfortable where I was. Within two weeks, the packing and moving took place under the direction of Cindy Viall. A list of needs was put out and when I tell you God brought my whole house, He brought my whole house! I didn’t have to buy or get anything and I can’t even begin to wrap my head around how fast and how easy everything fell into place. I was so amazed and overwhelmed. God brought everything and every single thing matched. It was truly amazing. He brought men to move, women to decorate, and I am overwhelmingly thankful. There are about 40 people who gave and ten men who moved. Thank you to everyone. I have always wanted to be independent and that’s what I am being. I am a mom who the Lord continues to bless and the Lord has truly done a good work in me but it is not complete. He has changed me from the inside out and I am truly amazed. He gave me a church home at Decatur Presbyterian where I have always been welcomed and comfortable. My future outlook on life is different. My plan is to stay in Bible studies, Titus 2 group, continue my work at Entrusted Tees, and strive to be a godly woman and mother the Lord is making me every single day. Jesus did for me exactly what Isaiah 61:1 states, “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners...” I will forever be grateful. Thank you for your support, prayers, gifts, and love. I love each one of you.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20 I have entered into Season 2 and God has blessed me with employment at Entrusted Tees. My boss, Joe Lubisco, not only gave me the opportunity to volunteer in the shop but offered full-time employment mid-February. God is moving mountains in my life. I am still growing in my relationship with my son, Nathan, and my daughter, Reannon, as well as my mother. God is doing more than I could ever imagined. I am truly blessed to be a resident at Refuge of Grace. God has placed several of His people in my life that I am growing strong bonds with. To God be the glory!
My name is Lolita Amerson and I have been at Refuge of Grace for seven months. I am beginning my second season at Refuge of Grace. I received driving privileges, which is a blessing. Recently, I volunteered at Decatur Heritage Christian Academy and, have since, secured full-time employment at Chick-fil-A. God is doing so much in my life that I never would have imagined. I now know that just as Philippians 4:13 states “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I am truly grateful for the support of my mother as well as everyone else who pours into us at Refuge of Grace. They are uplifting and quick to remind me “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and behold all things are made new.” I now know and believe that, yes, I am a new creation!
My name is Kristi. I am so grateful to say that I have been at Refuge of Grace for four months. Every day God continues to transform me in to the woman He intends me to be. It is an amazing yet difficult journey. I am so grateful for the godly women who take time to guide, lead, and walk beside me. As I begin to put off my old ways of the world and walk the path God has planned for me, I am truly excited to see what He has in store for my life. “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known along unfamiliar paths I will guide them. I will turn darkness into light before them and make rough places smooth. These are the things I will do. I will not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16
Adrienne, our newest resident, began her journey at Refuge of Grace March 1. She shares her favorite Scripture: “He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light.” Job 33:28
God Changed My Life Lord, I pray that I will find my identity in you. Help me to view myself as Your instrument and know without a doubt that, in You, I am complete. Give me a vision for my life when setting goals for the future and a sense of purpose about what You’ve called me to do. Help me to see myself as You do. Teach me to look to You as I hope for the future. May my commitment to being who You created me to be, enable me to grow daily in confidence and Holy Spirit boldness. Amen My new journey with God began November 2012 when I came to Refuge of Grace. I was scared because of the unknown. I learned to trust Him by reading my Bible, praying, being still so I could listen to His instructions, and most importantly how to put Him first in everything. This ministry has forever changed my life. Leadership loved and encouraged me. They believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. They never once turned away or gave up on me; instead taught me that perfect doesn’t exist and that is why God sent His only Son to die for sin. God’s grace and mercy is new each day and He is just to forgive us our sins when we ask and repent. They taught me how to be a godly woman and mother. Volunteers prepared me for my GED. I was blessed with an amazing job in March 2013. My life still changes daily for the good. Thanks to God the old me is dead and gone. I am a daughter of the King! I graduated Refuge of Grace November 9, 2014. I have full custody of two of my children. After I moved out of Refuge of Grace, I met the man I had been praying for and dreaming about my entire life! We were married November 20, 2015. I have always wanted my own family and I thank God daily for His blessings and for changing my life forever! I love Refuge of Grace dearly! I pray that God will use me to bless others because He has blessed me so much I want to help and encourage others because of what God has done for me and my family! “Nobody said that it’d be easy they just promised it would be worth it.” “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 Jennifer Gilliland Knighten
Katee, Jennifer, Colt, Ashton, Kaleb, and Landon
Wednesdays at noon are a high point in my week. I have the privilege of being part of a group of women who meet at the Morgan County Jail to lead a Bible study for the women who are inmates in the jail. We come with smiles, warm hugs, and chocolate. Most of all, we are able to show them God’s love and acceptance by our love and acceptance for each of them. We see them as women who need the love of Christ and the grace He offers. We are no different from them in that we sing, pray, and learn through our weekly study. The one comment that I hear over and over is “The best thing that happened to me is ending up in jail.” The women have the opportunity to not only attend Bible studies offered by Refuge of Grace but many others offered by other volunteers. Each are given a Bible if they don’t have one. The women have been removed from the negative and destructive influences that brought them to jail. And now they have time, lots of time, to find a relationship with the Savior they have never known, and that they may have never heard about before their imprisonment.
The Easter Experience by City on a Hill Productions featuring Kyle Idleman 31 enrolled / class still in session John by Community Bible Study 29 enrolled / 22 graduated The Christmas Experience by City on a Hill Productions featuring Kyle Idleman 28 enrolled / 17 graduated
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
The Board and Leadership expresses their deepest gratitude to First United Methodist Church of Decatur for their overwhelming support of the ministry of Refuge of Grace. The congregation has supplied physical needs for the residents as well as a loving and caring environment at First Grace for Ashley’s young daughters. Refuge of Grace participated in FUMC five day 2016 Global Impact Celebration. Leadership enjoyed a sweet time of fellowship and opportunities to share with church leaders and members, both individually and corporately, about the ministry. Thank you, First United Methodist and First Grace!
The Leadership of Refuge of Grace is excited to announce that we have been bestowed the honor to be a beneficiary of MarMac Charities. Mr. Mark Moody, owner of MarMac Realty, established MarMac Charities in 2009 and opened the Hope Home Thrift Store, a non-profit outreach. If you have nice, unused things around the house and garage, you may donate them to Hope Home Thrift Store on behalf of Refuge of Grace. That is one of the requirements to be part of their supporting charities. You may drop off donations at Hope Home Thrift Store, 2114 Central Parkway, SW, Decatur.
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!
God opened up a wonderful opportunity for me through the Refuge of Grace. I attended a fundraiser several months ago having no idea that a block from my church was a home for women. As I sat and listened, I could feel the presence of God on all who spoke. Another exciting aspect was that I have the privilege six months out of the year knowing and working with women who have come out of human trafficking in the Dominican Republic. I serve as a missionary with Score International. I could see so many similarities in the ministries, especially the love for God and love for women. I have the privilege of teaching a Bible study once a week for the ladies at Refuge of Grace. Ashley, Ashlee, Lolita, and Kristi have blessed my life more than they will ever realize. I look forward to being with them each week and watch their enthusiasm as they study God’s word. They have become like family to me. As of this writing, I am back on the field in the DR. As I think of the Refuge of Grace, the words of a song by Dave Edwards titled “God is in This Place” comes to mind:
Almost two years ago, I had no idea that I would be living in Decatur, Alabama. I certainly did not know that I would become associated with Refuge of Grace. In God’s loving providence, He has given me the opportunity to get to know and love the “girls” of Refuge of Grace who have become a rich blessing to me. I love and have been loved by these young women and have so enjoyed getting to know them and their stories; to laugh, cry, study, and pray with and for them. Truth be known, they have probably taught me much more than I have taught them. Thank you to the ones who work so tirelessly to manage this work, which is truly a place of grace and a refuge for all who have been changed by the death and resurrection of Christ. I am among the least of these.
“God is in this place; we are surrounded by His grace. God is in this place; there is power in His name. The atmosphere is changed by His Presence: darkness has to leave. God is in this place.” Praising God for those who continue to be faithful in following God’s vision for this awesome ministry.
Thank you for your continued support of Refuge of Grace. The leadership was able to share about the ministry with 40 ladies at a recent Elamar event. Proceeds from the bingo party were designated to ROG and matched by Dr. and Mrs. Gill. Thank you for your generous support of the ministry.
Nelson Littrell by Dr. and Mrs. Bob Knowling Leigh Nelson Littrell by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Edwards Ann Allen by Tim and Libby Britt Margaret Fudge by Geoff and Marilyn Davies Skip and Margie Thompson by Susan Thompson Susan Thompson, Laureen Nelson, Carolyn Thrasher, and Pat Fuller by Gerri Lowrey Bud and Blythe Orr by Sally and Pat Smartt
Kay Kimbrell Garner by Jack and Sharon Bendall
Thank you for providing excellent care for the ladies who reside in the Refuge of Grace home. Thank you, Jessica Payne, for facilitating care for the residents of Refuge of Grace.
Dr. Cherie Stanford treats Kristi. We appreciate her kind, compassionate, and excellent care for Kristi.
Elaine Stinson by George and Sara Alice Godwin Elaine Stinson by Bill and Betty Sims Laura Tucker by Jon and Jamna Tucker Virginia Crenshaw by Elizabeth Chandler Mary Bingham by Anne and Gil Crane Jay Seymour by Louise and Steve Brown Sigrid Gregory by Phyllis and Scott Gray Jack Allen by George and Sara Alice Godwin Hattie Cantrell by Sue Vanlandingham Bonnie Moore by James and Margaret Fudge, Cheryl Cornman, Kayla Wyatt, Rhonda Tezuka, James Lamb, Kurt Miller, Stuart Sivils, Karen LaMarca, Sharon Parker, and Caitlin Moody
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
99 Locking 4-drawer filing cabinet 99 Candy for jail ministry 99 Chest of drawers (2) 99 Fresh fruit
Because brothers and sisters so humbly and selflessly serve the Lord through the ministry of Refuge of Grace, the ministry is able to go, grow, and glorify Him. Galatians 5:13 says, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge in the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” So, a day in the life of Refuge of Grace is only possible because of the Lord and His faithful servants, our volunteers.
In One Day, a volunteer... • • • • • • • • •
employs our residents and encourages them at work; teaches a Bible study; counsels a resident; accompanies a resident to court; helps a resident open a bank account; visits the jail and interviews applicants; coaches a resident for a job interview; meets with a past resident; works on the newsletter;
• • • • • • •
works with a resident to reinstate driver’s license; prays for the residents and the ministry; A voluteer purchases candy for the jail ministry; makes nametags for the jail Bible study; accompanies residents to medical and dental appointments; discusses the 2016 fundraiser; and strategizes opportunities for our residents to volunteer to serve because...SERVICE TO OTHERS MAKES A HUGE DIFFERENCE!
THANK YOU FOR SERVING JESUS CHRIST IN THE MINISTRY OF ROG!
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.
Printing courtesy of Cook’s Pest Control