Story chicago

2.9.16        Sharon Irving to Perform at May 14 Fundraiser  

We are so pleased to welcome Sharon Irving as part of our Welcome Home, Refuge for Women, May 14 fundraiser. Click here for more info on the event.

As a semi finalist on America’s Got Talent in 2015, Sharon earned Mel B’s Golden Buzzer award with her strong, soulful voice. She is a singer, songwriter, poet, MC, VO artist, and actress; born & raised on the South Side of Chicago.  Her father, Robert Irving III, jazz musician and musical director for Miles Davis, frequently brought his daughter to the studio and to his performances.

Sharon started pursuing her professional artistic journey as a worship leader during her time at North Park University, located on the northwest side of Chicago. Majoring in Communication Studies with a minor in Sociology, she developed a heart for racial reconciliation & social justice. She realized that she wanted to be a “voice for the voiceless” through spoken word & song. 

She has traveled extensively to lead worship & perform spoken word in other churches across America. As a solo artist Sharon has led worship alongside artist Darlene Zschech and has led worship & spoken word for the renowned event, CHIC – “a triennial youth event intended to encourage and equip students to invite Jesus to remake their lives and to take Jesus to the rest of the world.”

Sharon continues to pursue her artistic journey by working on her first album, a collection of song, poetry and rap. We look forward to how she will stir and move hearts at our Refuge for Women event, helping us give voice to the women we serve. 

1.26.16         Human Trafficking is Horrible

January is human trafficking awareness month and we are sharing this reverse poem written by teen abolitionist Annalise Asen. A reverse poem means one thing when read from top to bottom, but the meaning or sentiment changes when you read each line from bottom to top.

Human trafficking is horrible

I've heard all the testimonies, 

but I can hardly believe it.

Other things in my life

are more important than 

these oppressed women

It's true 

These reasons don't matter. 

It's easy to give up. 

It's simple not to care.


oppression will continue

evil men say

I don't care when 

God tells me 

"Go to the oppressed.

Go to the needy. 

Find the brokenhearted 

Wrap them up in my love." 

It's hard

(Now read from the bottom to the top)

1.18.16              RFW chicago hires new program director

 Tracy Stella, Refuge for Women Chicago's Program Director

Tracy Stella, Refuge for Women Chicago's Program Director


Tracy possesses a passion to help God’s daughters step into their destiny. God has hard-wired her heart to point women to the hope, healing and freedom available to them in Christ. 

She has served in women’s ministry within the local church where she oversaw a team of volunteers, developed teaching content, and shepherded women corporately as well as individually.  This experience continued to cultivate her heart for women.

Today she is a certified Christian professional life coach. She walks alongside women, celebrating their journey to rise into the fullness of Christ’s calling for their life. She also uses her gifts of writing and teaching to encourage and challenge women to be their best, because God’s kingdom needs their contribution.

Tracy comes from a strong corporate background where she worked for a Fortune 20 organization in a medical sales and training capacity. Her responsibilities included managing a multi-million dollar metropolitan territory. Her strong relationship-building, strategic analysis, training, and process skills contributed to her consistent delivery of organizational results. The skills developed in the corporate arena will be a strong framework for effectiveness in her new role as Refuge for Women Program Director.

She enjoys reading, writing, and learning new things to feed her inquisitive nature. She loves one-on-one conversations with her girlfriends to fuel her desire for authentic relationship mixed in with laughter along the way.  

She and her husband enjoy active lifestyles, snowshoeing, biking, hiking and anything else they can do and take in a bit of nature.  She has one adult child. Their relationship has helped her better understand how God sees us as His children – special and dearly loved.

Tracy is excited about the opportunity to join in the efforts of Refuge for Women. She looks forward to participating in God’s plan to rescue and restore survivors of human trafficking.

1.13.16              Cast your net

Many of you know that we have been in the process of locating a home for our ministry for quite some time now.  Since last Fall we have been in talks with another non-profit regarding the ownership of a home that they were no longer using.  Our hopes were that this organization would transfer ownership of this home to Refuge.  Since last Fall we have been in a holding pattern to see if this lead would come to fruition.  

We were informed this morning that their governance board, under direction from their funding board, has voted to try to sell the house that they had at first intended to give us.  Their financial resources are dwindling and this could be a way to address that.  While wondering about this turn of events, we trust God and are reminded of Acts 16:6-7 where the Spirit blocked Paul from going to Asia so that he would go to Macedonia.  .

While this is an obvious setback, we remain faithful that He indeed has a house for us, just not that one.

During this time of waiting, we have been like the women with their oil lamps burning.  We are ready to move ahead as soon as God makes His move in telling us where the home will be located. We have been preparing our volunteers, selecting our program director, building connections and partnerships, and fundraising to be able to establish this house well.

As we wait for God to establish the house that He will use for ministry, we are also reminded of Peter’s calling to cast down his net in Luke chapter 5.  Simon (later called Peter) was a fisherman by trade.  He had been fishing all day, but had not been successful. But after being obedient to Jesus’ command, he casts his net and is supplied with more fish than he could ever ask or imagine.

Our efforts in locating a home have not been successful thus far.  But we feel as if God is telling us to cast our net again.  Cast it wider and with more certainty than before.  Cast our net with full confidence that He will fill it to overflowing and provide more than we could ever ask or imagine.  Perhaps God does not have just one house in mind for us.  Perhaps he has 3 homes to fill our net.  And so, dear friends, we are now casting our net in faith.  Let those who have ears to hear, hear this need and pay attention to any promptings they may have to partner with Refuge.  We are asking you to help us stretch our net far and wide.  Do you have a house or know someone that has a house that could be used for ministry? Please let others know that Refuge needs a house.  

Once Peter answered the Lords call, his focus changed from fishing for actual fish and earning a days wage to fishing for people. His focus shifted from the here and now to the eternal.  Fishing for souls and bringing them to Christ. Once God establishes the home, we too will shift our focus.  We will become fishers of women and souls for eternity.  We will then begin the good work that he has started in KY and begin the healing work the Lord has for women who have been exploited in our city and community.

Luke 5

One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken,  and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.