“Better is one day in your house than thousands elsewhere…” - Psalm 84:10
I will never forget my first visit to the “farm”. First of all, I was given directions that seemed simple enough. I ended up driving twenty miles out of my way and had to be escorted by the program director to the farm house. She later explained to me that this happens a lot and I couldn’t help but to think that the Lord values these women so deeply He will screw up any GPS if it means protection for them.
When the program director got out of her car, she was met by several of the women in the program. They were bombarding her with good morning hugs and questions and there was a feeling of great anticipation for the day ahead. This was obviously a “special” day because the annual Spring Gala was to be held that evening and they were all attending. Jewellan (the program director, or “Miss Jewellan” as the guests often call her) had brought some things for the girls and they couldn’t wait to see whatever it was!
I will admit that the smiling faces and hugs and cheers of joy were not what I had expected to encounter first thing in the morning at a residential facility for women seeking escape from the sex industry. If I am honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The media has exploited women so much in our society today that I believe we have false imagery of what these beautiful women look like- inside and out. The eight “guests” (residents, in clinical terms) were each very different in age and appearance. They were each beautiful and tender and real. Real- that is what they were. There was an authenticity that I felt the moment I walked through the front door that was refreshing and alive.
One sweet woman had been leading the morning devotional and was preparing for a time of worship. I followed the program director upstairs to her office and then began to hear the soft voices of the ladies singing. I asked the director if we could join them, and as we did, I stood in awe. The Holy Spirit was moving so powerfully in the darkened room that chills went up and down my arms. I saw tears flowing, hands rising, knees bowing, and hearts connecting as the women intimately and personally worshipped our God. The hair on the back of my neck stands up- even to this day- as I remember the power of God’s Presence among these beloved daughters of our King.
After worship, the director led the ladies’ in prayer and processed through some tears and emotions that had arisen during worship time. It was awesome to watch the guests responding to each other and to God’s guidance – it was invigorating to see women refusing to let the enemy have one more second of their life.
Miss Jewellan then showed me some of the administrative duties that had to be taken care of that day. (As a woman who loves order and organization I was in awe). As a couple of volunteers sorted papers and made copies, Jewellan went over the detailed schedule for the day with me. She showed me what a “normal” day looks like and explained this day was different because the ladies were going to be preparing for the big event that evening.
The next scheduled item for the day was Trauma Class. As we all sat in a circle with our hand-outs and notes, the ladies began discussing some very dark experiences that they were struggling to overcome. It was a very safe, very comfortable time together. The guests shared tools with one another and encouraged one another as the director taught them the signs and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
After the class, we went to sit at the large family- style table in the kitchen. The guests were now bustling about showing each other the dresses that they had picked to wear that evening. (All gorgeous gowns that had been donated!) They were matching nail color and shoes and hand bags and jewelry- just like Cinderella dressing up for the ball.
As they were preparing to go to get their hair and nails done, I was imagining what their life was like a few short months ago. I know some of their stories- and know that most of us cannot even allow ourselves to THINK about what they had been experiencing. I cannot bear to imagine my child doing the things necessary to survive that these ladies had endured. My guess is the last thing they probably thought they would be doing on this day is dressing up for a ‘red carpet’ event at a fancy gala held specifically in their honor. I thought about how lavishly God loves us- each of his daughters are so precious to Him- that He wants to host a gala for us- in our honor.
As the afternoon wrapped up and I had gotten to spend a little time with a couple of the guests they had asked me if I could go to the gala with them. I had driven a couple hours to the farm, had no dress, had no idea how my husband could swing getting off work two hours away to get home to get me…but, there was nothing that could have kept me from witnessing what the Lord was going to do that evening. So, I said “Of course!” So, a miracle or two later my husband and I were dressed up at the gala with a few hundred other people who had fallen head over heels in love with what God was up to at the Refuge for Women.
The ladies looked amazing- absolutely beautiful. It was neat to walk in and see a couple of them who ran up to me and said “Hi, Carrie!!!” I remember thinking how blessed I felt that God had led me to these ladies and that my life would never be the same. The evening was an evening of excellence in every way- divine food and testimonies from graduates of the Refuge- singing and music by ladies in the program- there could not have been a more beautiful experience to honor them. I do not believe in coincidences- I do not believe it was by chance that God planned on me visiting the Refuge the day of the gala. God knew how to show himself off to me. I am one of those “girly girls” who, as a child, loved to twirl my tutu around and clatter on the floor with plastic dress- up high heels. As a grown up, I love to let God woo me and I love that Jesus is our Knight in shining armor. I believe all women matter and all women are God’s treasure. I knew in that day that my mission was crystal clear and I was to minister in this ministry.
In one day, God changed the trajectory of my husband and I‘s life. He showed us how He was loving these women to Life and made it irresistible to be a part of. Ever since that day, almost a year ago, I have served the Refuge in some capacity. In the early summer, CKY2 will be opening (Refuge’s second house in KY!) and I am blessed to be a part of the serving team there. Do I believe one day can make a difference? Absolutely, positively, beyond a shadow of a doubt…YES. If the guests I encountered at the farm had only ONE day to feel and see how much King Jesus loves them- this day God allowed me to share with them - this was the day. I can guarantee that none of them will forget how it felt to be God’s princess.
Carrie Miller, Program Director (Phase 2)
Please consider sponsoring a guest at the Refuge for 1 Day by donating here.