Summer 2018 Applying Biblical Truths To Women’s Lives
BOARD OF DIRECTORS Leigh Littrell Founder Skip Thompson Chairman Laura Hellard Treasurer Ruth Ann Fite Secretary Dr. Richard Bedsole Libby Brown Jack Fite Joe Lubisco John Underwood Leadership Team Leigh Littrell Susan Brooks Libby Brown Margaret Fudge Resident Managers Carol Atchley Jackie Harris
IN THIS ISSUE... COVER Leigh’s Message \ \
PAGE 2 Season 3 for Shelly PAGE 3 More Resident News PAGE 4 Mother's Day Event PAGE 5 Jail Ministry THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
When Refuge of Grace began over eight years ago, I had no idea what the Lord had planned. I, including the ladies going inside the Morgan County Jail to teach classes, knew was that there were single moms who had been shown the love and hope of living a new life in Christ. But, when their sentence was over, the only place they had to go was back to the darkness that brought them to jail in the ﬁrst place. That’s when the Lord placed it on our hearts to create a home where these women could actually experience His love, grace, and forgiveness in tangible ways from the body of Christ while learning to live life through the lens of a biblical worldview.
Since the beginning, we have often been asked and struggled with the question ”What is your success rate?” or “How do you measure success?”. The most obvious answer is the we are being faithful to what God has called us to do which is to share the gospel, cultivate seeds, and He will ultimately bring the harvest. But more tangible ways in which we measure success is how are the women and children we are serving triumphing through adversity.
“No faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs through adversity. Tested faith brings experience. You would never have believed your own weakness had you not needed to pass through trials. And you would never have known God’s strength had His strength not been needed to carry you through.”
What are some of the ways in which we measure success or witness triumphing through adversity? It is
•watching several women study for and receive their GED’s when they dropped out of school and were told they were “never going to amount to anything”;
•seeing a young mother read bedtime stories to her young daughters whom she had gained custody while in the program;
•celebrating with a resident whose driver's license were reinstated after driving for years without one;
•watching a mom continuing to smile while speaking to her three sons on the phone and hearing her own father in the background yelling ito her children what a worthless mother she is and she will never amount to anything; (by the way, the Lord has mended her relationship with her sons and her father);
•celebrating with a resident who received her GED and a new full time oﬃce job all in the same week only to witness as she received a phone call that her middle child was being admitted into UAB Children's Psch Unit and that she couldn’t speak to him or see him;
•watching as a resident is diagnosed with a life-altering, incurable disease and face it through the hope of Jesus;
•watching the gospel of Jesus Christ reach four generations through one resident;
•celebrating when residents secure employment and are able to pay oﬀ all of their court costs and ﬁnes;
•witnessing a judge dismiss resident's court costs because of the obvious changes they have made through the empowering of the Holy Spirit and the ministry of Refuge of Grace; and
•TRULY WATCHING GOD WORK MIRACLE AFTER MIRACLE IN THE LIVES OF THE WOMEN DAY IN AND DAY OUT!!!
Refuge of Grace has served approximately 595 women in the Morgan County Jail and 57 women and children over the last seven years. And, of course, with serving this many people comes growth and change. We have learned much over this time through not only successes, but also through mistakes we have made along the way. As many of you know and have been praying for us, we have just returned from a very productive strategic planning retreat and look forward in the coming weeks and months sharing with you what the Lord has placed upon our hearts to grow the ministry to the next level serving more women and their children as well as enlarging our staﬀ. Please continue to pray that we remain faithful to His calling!
Shelly moves to Season 3
God is within her; she will not fall; Psalm 46:5
My name is Shelly. I have been a resident for 18 months living in the Refuge of Grace home until early May. I have been on my own for about two months. Living independently comes with a whole new set of responsibilities and challenges. Over Mother's Day weekend, I moved into my own apartment. I want to say "thank you" to everyone who played a part in my move. I was blown away at God's love and provisions during that time. Thank you for the many donations, prayers, and sweat that went into making it an easy, smooth move. I also want to thank the family of Jeri Kallam for giving me a car. Below is a picture of Beth Ellsworth giving me the keys. I continue to be employed full-time at an amazing doctor's office with some of the most amazing people I have ever met. They are living examples of God's love and acceptance. I am also getting more and more time with my 12-year old daughter Emma. We have had an amazing summer. Together we have enjoyed pajama movie nights, hiking, and seeing a play at the Princess Theatre. Above are pictures of some of the fun times we have enjoyed. There have been many ups and downs but He has been faithful through them all. I am so grateful to see how far God has brought me in just 18 months. Lots of rebuilding and bonding moments that I will cherish the rest of my life. Not just as a mother and person, but in my faith and what it means to be a Christian. Nothing I am would be possible without God's constant grace and mercy for me. I am so excited to see where He will lead me next.
Shelly Graduation of Shelly Burns Sunday, August 12, 2018 2pm Decatur Presbyterian Church
Please join us as we celebrate this special day! Thank you to the Ellsworth family for giving me a car! 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 conďŹ nes of the Morgan County Jail and beyond.
Partnering with Prison Fellowship Ministries
More Resident News Kristi Thurman
Welcome Natasha Hardin to Refuge of Grace! We hope that you will get to know Natasha in the coming days and ask that you pray as she begins a "transformation" journey.
If you have skill that you would like to share with Natasha, please complete our volunteer form on our website or contact one of the Leadership Team members. We will be happy to talk with you about sharing your talents and time with us.
Hello everyone! My name is Kristi and I am a former resident of Refuge of Grace. I wanted to write about the importance of the jail ministry. God uses jail to change lives. Probably because it is the first time in most of our lives, He set us down to be still and hear Him as we reminded in Psalms 46:10. I know for myself, He used the ministry and the women He chose to bless me and change my life. I have received way more blessings than despair. Here are just a few things that I never thought would happen. I have a real relationship with God and, from that, I have learned how to have healthy relationships with others. My relationship with my children has been restored after years of separation. My family and I have become part of an amazing church family. There is plenty more but I would like for the women in jail who read this to know that if they want to really change their lives, He will make a way. It's hard work but the blessings are indescribable . All the things the world has told you would never get back is a LIE. God will give you more than you could ever dream. My prayer is that those reading this will continue to help and support the ministry of Refuge of Grace. God truly does use the ministry to change lives and families. Just as He has done from Joseph to Paul, He continues to do today.
As many of you know, I am no longer a resident at Refuge of Grace. Words cannot explain how grateful I am to have come through the program. The tools given to the women who come through the program help us combat old habits and environments. God and this program has changed me in so many ways as a mother, daughter, and sister. I am very proud to say that in May I celebrated earning my GED participating in graduation commencement! Additionally, I love my job at Entrusted Tees. It helps to have a family at home and another one at work. I am very thankful to be a part of Entrusted Tees! I want to say a special thanks to each volunteer and friend I made a long the way - friendships that will last always! Special thanks to the strong leadership team of women which I can honestly call my friends! I have to say God does everything for a reason - going through all of this. God gave me one of my best friends, Shelly Burns. My daughter needs me as much as I need her. I would also like to thank the father of my daughter for sticking it out through everything. I thank God for my past because without it, I wouldn't be where I am today. I want to thank you for supporting Refuge of Grace. It is because of you that women who come to Refuge of Grace will get the help and healing I was blessed to receive.
Blessed is she who believeth the Lord would fulfill his promises to her. Luke 1:45
Mother's Day Celebration
Refuge of Grace was privileged to host ten women and their 17 children for the 4th Annual Mother’s Day Celebration at the Morgan County Jail. The women were given bright yellow t-shirts to wear courtesy of Mr. Joe Lubisco, owner of Entrusted Tees. Pam Bolding with the Neighborhood Christian Center supplied jeans for the ladies. The Neighborhood Christian Center has been involved every year and has been a big part of helping make this event possible. The room was decorated with paper table cloths and balloon bouquets at each table. Lunch along with a cake was served to the ladies and their children. There were also games for the moms to play with their children. Each child was given an age-appropriate Bible to take home. The children were able to visit with their moms for two hours. There was lots of laughter and several tears. Some of those tears were from the volunteers helping with the event. These are precious memories in our mind and it made time with our own family even sweeter as we celebrated Mother’s Day. Two of the mothers who were able to come to the event went to prison the next week. All the women were very thankful for this opportunity to share time with their children. Our thanks go out to Warden Aaron Dawson, Sheriff Franklin, and the staff for allowing us to host this event. First Bible gave a generous donation that enabled us to purchase the food and Bibles. Thank you to Jeremy Jones for donating the balloons that transformed the room. We also appreciate the volunteers of the Refuge of Grace who helped host the event. Most of all, we thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for bringing hope into a place of darkness. He is to be praised in this and through this.
In Honor of…
In Memory of…
Mrs. Diana Thorpe by Libby Brown
J.R. Thompson by Mike and Dell Ward
Mr. and Mrs. Bud (Blythe) Orr by Refuge of Grace Leadership Team
Mrs. Betty Moneypenny by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Edwards Bill Sims, Jr. by Betty Sims
In Kind Gifts... Mr. Rick Shannon Shannon & Sons, Inc. Mr. Kevin Bradford Bradford Installations
Carolyn Ivey by Lisa Johnson
Mr. Dan Fite Gobble Fite Lumber Company
Carolyn Ivey by Barbara Lyons
Mr. Eric West
Mr. Neal HamiltonElite Equipment Rental Mr. Carter Haley Haley's Flooring Mr. Wade Littrell Ms. Amanda Littrell Littrell Lumber Mill
Morgan County Jail Bible Study We have often been asked what type of classes we teach in the Morgan County Jail. We have used different sources of study books. For the last two years, the materials produced by Community Bible Study which focuses on books in the Bible have been used the most. The format for the class is prayer, praise, and small group discussion of homework. This is led by CBS group leaders and then a summation of the week’s study is led by Laura Hellard. The women have told us they enjoy learning how to read and study the Bible. The homework has the lesson broken down into five days of work with three to four questions per day. The local CBS ministry, hosted by Westmeade Baptist Church, encouraged us to use this material. Recently, we had a group of ladies from Lauderdale County visit and observe our class to see how it worked. They are praying and exploring beginning a CBS study in the Lauderdale County Detention Center. We ask that you pray that doors will be opened in Lauderdale County so that hearts may be changed through the power of the gospl. We are blessed to be allowed to go into the Morgan County Jail. This is not something we take for granted.
On July 11, we celebrated Carol's service to the ministry of Refuge of Grace. With two years under her belt, Carol has faithfully handled the day-to-day operations of the ministry. We are so grateful for we know we can "rest easy" knowing that Carol is at the stern. Thank you, Carol, for your endurance and skill.
Please welcome Jackie Harris to the staﬀ of Refuge of Grace! Jackie is serving as the Weekend Manager. We are grateful to have Jackie on the team. She is very capable and brings a wealth of knowledge as we serve the ladies God has entrusted to the ministry. We are grateful to the Lord for bringing Jackie to handle the weekend details of the ministry.
The Easter Experience City on a Hill Productions 16 graduates 1 John Community Bible Study Inside 13 graduates James Community Bible Study Inside 23 participants Class still in session
The Board of Directors and Leadership Team would like to thank Mr. Mark Moody, owner/broker of MarMac Real Estate, and Mr. Beau Goss, chairman of the 9th Annual Charities Golf Tournament, for their continued and generous support of Refuge of Grace. MarMac Charities generously give back to the community sponsoring seven local non-proﬁts. Thank you that Refuge of Grace is one you chose to support.
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Applying Biblical Truths To Womenâ€™s Lives
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.
Needed...Volunteers As we begin this next season of ministry, we are in need of volunteers to share their talents and skills with residents. If you have a talent or skill to share, would you please complete the volunteer form on our website, www.therefugeofgrace.org or if you are a seasoned volunteer, would you please call the office 256-686-1691 to discuss your availability? One of the tasks we accomplished in our strategic planning retreat was developing a Volunteer Handbook. This document details the expectations and rules of both resident and volunteer. We are planning a volunteer appreciation event and will be sharing the details of this handbook with you. Watch for a date in the near future. Volunteers are highly valued and sought after to enrich the Refuge of Grace program and the lives of the residents. We look forward to hearing from you and seeing how you might use your gifts to benefit the residents.
Ministry Needs Reams of white copy paper First class postage stamps Reams of pastel copy paper
Pocket folders with no brads Grocery gift cards Non-electric corded leaf blower