Last June I attended a weekend retreat at the Refuge where I accepted Jesus into my heart, and then decided to enter the residential program. I was at the end of my rope and hanging on for dear life; severely depressed and angry with everyone including God; felt worthless, unloved, hopeless and abandoned; wanted to give up and didn’t see any reason for living. Every area of my life was affected by depression. My day consisted of sleeping, eating and sitting at my computer. I rarely left the house. I was sexually abused by my step-grandfather from the ages of eight to sixteen. The pain of that abuse resurfaced when I was 24 years old and I began cutting myself. The cutting progressed to suicidal behavior. I spent the last 28 years in and out of hospitals. I had 55 ECT treatments for depression. In 2012, I spent 1½ years in a state psychiatric hospital followed by 6 months in an assisted living program. For most of those years I was treated like a victim so I acted like a victim. Therapists and doctors sympathized with me but no one offered a solution. I was diagnosed with just about every mental illness and their only solution was to increase my medication. I believed I was so damaged that there was no way God could love me. At the Refuge, I learned that I didn’t have to perform to be loved and there is nothing I could do to cause Him to stop loving me. God used the staff to demonstrate His unconditional love for me, and I was finally able to accept and believe He truly loves me. God has done amazing things in my life through the curriculum, individual counseling, support groups, and structured accountability. Additionally, He provided funding for the program and psychiatrist appointments through my church, family, and friends. I am no longer the depressed, lonely, anger, bitter, resentful person who had no hope. I am FREE! The key to the changes in my life is knowing my identity is in Christ. I now have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. God has restored my relationship with my daughter and is in the process of healing my relationship with my son. I thank God for the privilege of spending this time at the Women’s Refuge. It truly is a “sanctuary for people who are serious about getting well.”
Testimony of Restoration
Two Week-Program Graduate
My goal in coming to the Women’s Refuge was to regain the joy of my salvation. I learned how I died with Christ and that confession does not accomplish forgiveness, that we are forever forgiven. God’s purpose is to restore relationship. God has brought me to a point of brokenness from an awareness of the sin of self-righteousness in my life. He has also given me an understanding of the insidiousness of my “positive” flesh patterns. With the assurance of His love, the encouragement of the staff and the support of my housemates He has enabled me to accept the Holy Spirit conviction of my sin, but also the conviction of my righteousness in Christ. By His grace I am choosing to leave behind a life of pleasing myself and other people and choosing to live for His pleasure alone, where He has promised to be my ultimate satisfaction. It has been like being on a Holy honeymoon with Jesus. My future plans are to re-learn how to fulfill the roles of wife, mother, daughter and friend in the strength and wisdom of Christ and not by my flesh.
Testimony of a Renewed Mind
Sheryl Three Month Graduate
As I was leaving the Women’s Refuge, I was asked to write a brief testimony of what the Lord did in my life while I was there. It was such a struggle to write a “brief” testimony, because there are so many things that changed my life. I can only say that my heart is full to overflowing. When I came to the Refuge I was in despair, full of bitterness and rage. I had many broken relationships, especially with my husband. Being at the Refuge has brought me back to my first love, Jesus my Lord. The rest of my life flows from this. Being here literally saved my life. I was caught in self-destructive coping mechanisms. I shudder to think of where I would be without this place and the precious women of God who walked alongside me, to encourage, to disciple and exhort me during this difficult journey. I am now able to forgive as Christ forgave me. After being here five months, I am now returning home to resume my life with my husband, with a new heart toward Him. I have learned that God will always be with me in life’s storms, HIS amazing grace is all sufficient for me. I cannot stop giving thanks to my God and for you ....the Women’s Refuge.
Testimony of a New Life
Janet Nine Month Graduate
Since I have been at the Refuge God has done a lot for me and still continues to do that. I was in a huge fog when I came here. The Lord broke me, cleared out the fog and gave me joy. This place has been such a blessing to me. I feel honored to say that I was a resident here at the Refuge. You all have shown me what true forgiveness is. I forgave over 100 people. I have learned that God is pursuing a relationship with me, a love relationship. He gave me a foundation to set my house upon. He gave me hope for the future when I thought there was no hope. He cleared the path for me to get treated for ADD. He has given me such an immense joy that I just can not contain. He also gave me a job that I am now moving up in. If it wasn’t for Him I would never have made it this far. He gave me a future. My accomplished goals include; learning to tell myself the truth and recognizing the deception of the world. My future plans are to live on my own in my own apartment and to be a witness for God in everything I do. Growing up with an absent mother and an angry/controlling father wasn’t easy. These circumstances ingrained in me a lot of bad relationship patterns and sinful ways to cope with life. I viewed God as a god who punishes severely like my father and one whom would not forgive. Boy, was I wrong. I thought that if I avoided God he wouldn’t deal with me, that I could escape God. So I ran to drugs, alcohol, and sex. I went down a very rebellious and sinful path. But, God was persistent. He had to get me to where I lost everything for me to see how I really needed Him in my life. Kind of like a drought. He didn’t do this to be cruel, but instead He did this so I could become stronger in Him. A metaphor I like to use is one of trees. We are the trees. If God gives us rain all the time, which would represent our every want and desire, our roots don’t have to reach far down to get water. When a storm comes we are more susceptible to falling over. But then God will give us a drought by stripping us of our idols and dependencies and thus forcing us to either wither up and die or reach far down deep to reach a source of life, water from a deep aquifer. This is Him; He is our aquifer and gives us deep roots. God had to strip me from every ounce of security I had. My dad moved to another state, I broke up with my fiancé; I lost my job, became an alcoholic, got raped, lost my place to sleep and ended up living in my car. I had nothing and no one to turn to, until one Sunday I returned to church and my pastor who cared about me. I rededicated my life to Christ and I wanted to make a change. I knew if I continued my sinful life I would be dead. Everything is sort of a blur until I came to the Refuge. Here I realized that in my sinful life I had lost who I really was. Here at the Refuge I found that aquifer. I found who God was and why He sent his only Son! His ONLY SON! To die for ME! My sins are forgiven. That was a new concept for me. No grudges. Amazing! In the world I had lost my joy. Not only did God give me back my joy but also He gave me a new identity in Christ. I am pure now; I love life now and rejoice for the life I am now living here. I see God now as the father who would never leave me: He loves me more than earthly human being could ever love me. He is perfect father, brother, husband and provider. He is my life!
Testimony of Restored Joy
Nine Month Graduate
When I first went to the Women’s Refuge last year I was very depressed and had low self-esteem. After spending six months at the Refuge and returning home, I decided I needed a “tune-up,” so I went back for two weeks. My goals at the Refuge included gaining a better understanding of my deep fears and how I desired and needed to be in control. I saw how I would choose to become angry and blame others because I was not getting my way. Now, God has shown me how to recognize and understand that anger is a God-given emotion, and when it is expressed in an appropriate manner we can grow in Christ as a result. Also, the need for being with God daily was emphasized at the Refuge, and I came to the understanding that it can be a matter of “life or death” for me spiritually. He has shown me how I, for so long, used to choose my own way without much effort and did not take God into account. I pray God will continue to reveal other lessons as I stay plugged into Him and the Refuge family. God is showing me that I need to set for myself a routine of morning devotions, exercise, and good nutrition in order to grow in grace. I want to become active in a Bible study, join a support group, take Spanish classes, and continue attending church. This is my response to His love for me.
Testimony of Restored Identity
A prime example of God’s hand in the lives of the women who attend the Women’s Refuge and persevere through the program is, C.J. C.J. states that; “I am convinced that the discipleship training and freedom I received at the Refuge saved my life.” She believes this has been, and continues to be, the most valuable event and time of her life. God has already called C.J. to the House Manager position at The Refuge Ranch in Okeechobee, Florida. These two ministries have on-going mutual goals of setting people free from the lies and fears that keep them in bondage.
Testimony of a Straightened Path
I am from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. From childhood on traumatic experiences accumulated, arming me with a host of coping mechanisms that simply were not working for me. I came to the Women’s Refuge disillusioned, wary and confused. I scarcely knew what I believed anymore and came in with what remnants of truth I held. The Lord has helped me see the damage of coping with life my way and to apply the truth of God’s word to my life. I am grateful to be in the Internship program where this healing can continue and I can begin to extend to others the same grace that God has given to me.