I know I shouldn’t play favorites. This is especially true when it comes to my children and when it comes to volunteers at Summit. There are a few though who really have captured my heart in a special way. I am referring to volunteers of course, not my kids. After all, each of my children are equally awesome and my favorite in their own unique way.
The volunteers I am thinking of are really great people and they serve with intentionality, passion, and joy. However, the reason I am writing about them is not that they are great volunteers, or even that they are great people. Why they have a special place in my heart is because I know the road they have travelled to get to the place where they can serve with love and joy. I know the work they have done and the healing they have experienced in order to be in a place where they can give freely from the overflow of what God has done in their lives.
Several years ago, Brandy and I were invited to dinner at a recovery home for women who were coming out of lives of exploitation, addiction, and shame. The home was going to be closing in a matter of months, due to lack of funding and leadership, but the women invited us to join them and learn their stories. The women in this home had lived the same kind of broken lives as the volunteers I mentioned above. They had suffered unthinkable abuse, they had been sexually exploited and trafficked. They had buried their shame and fear in addiction and self-loathing. They had lived with so much pain that Brandy and I had a hard time comprehending how there could be the joy they now had as they experienced healing. It was a faith stretching experience and left us wanting to be sure that there was always a place for women with that much pain to go to where they could experience grace, love, and healing.
We were invited to that dinner because our friend was starting a new ministry that would serve women just like those we dined with that evening. The ministry would be called Samaritan Village, and would be a place of healing for those who had been used, abused, and broken by the world. The next year, Samaritan Village opened its doors and Summit had the privilege of funding the first four open beds for the women they were called to serve.
Now, several years into the ministry, we can see the results of what God has done in these women’s lives. They have moved from lives where everything was taken from them, to lives where they can give freely from the strength of what God has given them. These women once felt completely lost to themselves and had no sense of person or purpose. Now they live fully in the truth of who they are as daughters of the living God.
These women— these residents and graduates of Samaritan Village— are those Summit volunteers who have travelled a long and seemingly impossible road to reach wholeness in Christ. They have not been alone on the journey though. All along the way, they have had a family here. Volunteers at Samaritan Village and Summit have spent countless hours walking alongside these women, and now these precious women are the ones volunteering so that others can know they matter to God.
What seemed impossible is promised in Christ, and that is why it is fitting that this year’s Christmas Eve offering will go to support Samaritan Village. The offering will increase their capacity to house and serve two additional women at any given time. That is a critical increase of 50 percent in available beds in a city where there are so few safe beds for women escaping sexual exploitation. I can’t wait to see what God does through this Christmas Eve offering and the ongoing partnership with Samaritan Village.