Looking Back to Look Ahead

As we look ahead to 2016, I am filled with excitement for all the Lord is doing.  2015 was a huge year for Promise 23, and the Lord’s plan so clearly showed through.  Our focus for 2015 was love and acceptance.  We prayed mightily for our participants to feel complete acceptance, for them to feel unconditionally loved, for our team to be Jesus’ hands and feet, and to help them feel His enormous love for them.  We prayed specifically for relationships between these women and our staff, as we are called to love one another.

And throughout the year, time and time again, God answered these prayers, moving in and among our team, our courageous victims of sexual exploitation, our horses, and even the drivers who brought our ladies out!  If I had to name the biggest fruit that came out of 2015, I would say it was the relationships!  We had some very special bonds take place between some of our volunteers and participants.  God pulled them together, exactly as He planned even before we were born, to help heal and connect two souls.  It blows my mind sometimes that He knows our every step before we take it, that He knew exactly who would be in each session and set the journey in motion for these ladies to connect.  The best part is, our Great God wastes nothing. It is not just our team coming alongside our participants, but I have firsthand accounts of members of our team being able to connect deeply with our ladies, confronting and healing hurts of their own in a safe place of understanding.  It is a beautiful thing!

In 2015, we have had the honor of seeing Engedi ladies graduate through the Engedi Phases:1, 2 and 3 (completion!).  Ladies are now attending school, gaining employment, in their own housing and praising God for their success.  My heart is so full at all they have attained.  It is no small feat to flee addiction, abuse, exploitation and severe manipulation.  We as a team are humbly honored to walk beside these ladies and witness their journey.  To see them give glory to God and rely on Him fills my eyes with tears and my heart to overflowing!  They possess a courage that I admire deeply.  While it is often so painful to hear their stories and try to imagine the pain they suffered in the past, there is so much healing in the testimony and in bringing light to the darkness. Seeing what has been overcome is an inspiration, and God’s hope shines through and spills over.  There is always hope and life in choosing Jesus.

Our 2015 retreat was a time I will never forget.  Our team, our prayer covering team, and Engedi’s staff all felt warned for some very real spiritual warfare.  Any time God is to be magnified, there is a very real enemy doing his best to tear it down.  We prayed mightily over this event, before, during, and after, and we gave all the glory and control to God.  As the weekend progressed, there were small and large breakthroughs that we would never have imagined to be possible!  We had the wonderful addition of some very musically talented women to our team this year and we decided to worship by the fire—it was a mountain retreat after all!  Fires had been a major threat to the area all summer long, and a burn ban had been in place for months.  That last night, God made a way and the ban was lifted!  Guitars were brought out, as well as some smart phones to find lyrics.  Little did we know how those gals could sing!!!  Not only did they sing, but from their hearts came forth songs from their past—lovely God honoring gospel and worship songs.  It was a stunningly beautiful and holy time, hearing all those voices lifted to heaven, praising the God who made them, rescued them from despair, and gave them safety, freedom, life.  The God who loves them more than they could ever imagine.

Now, Promise 23 did not realize this was the first time that Engedi as a whole had ever worshipped together., and we did not grasp the significance.  However, it became clear later that night when a lovely young lady, who had spilled her heart earlier that day in confession and had recommitted her life to God, choosing to trust in Him again, had a medical emergency and was airlifted to the nearest hospital.  For a while she could not speak, but when she could, she immediately gave glory to God, and asked that others not worry about her but also trust in God.  During the emergency, these gals, some of whom only recently had come out of “the life” banded together, stayed calm, prayed for their friend and handled themselves so well!  This scenario had the potential of disintegrating into fear, anxiety and chaos, but these gals chose to overcome that, remembering that God is in control, just as their lips had sung two hours prior.  What the enemy intended for evil worked out for the glory of God!   As I look ahead to 2016, I am full of joy and anticipation for what the Lord will do!