The Justice Conference Memphis is coming up on February 21-22 in Seabrook Hall. We will have a variety of exhibitors from local organizations to share about their engagement with justice issues in our city and about how you can join with them and support them in their work.
You can find out more information and register online at cumcmemphis.org/justice.
I had the pleasure of being introduced to A Way Out later last year at a benefit dinner. I was struck by the beauty and effectiveness of this program. Hearing the testimonies of women whose lives have been changed through other women giving their time to them renewed my awareness of just how much God can work when we simply obey him and work for his justice in our world.
CUMC member Linda Tichenor has been serving at A Way Out for many years:
When I first heard about A Way Out on the radio, something deep within me responded. A Way Out is a Christ-centered victim assistance program designed to help women escape from the sex trafficking industry and get equipped to live as healthy, responsible citizens. They have been abused, neglected, addicted, resulting in a loss of self-esteem, purpose, hope, and dignity and are often ignored by society. When a group of them spoke a few years ago at church, my heart broke as I heard their stories.
For over 20 years I attended and led Bible studies, started the telephone prayer chain, and served in various capacities in the church. Yet, I never felt like my life reflected Jesus’ call to follow Him wherever He leads. I was uncomfortable around those who were poor and needy and in bondage to darkness. After meeting and developing relationships with these women, I have realized that they have the same needs I have– to be loved, accepted, forgiven, and respected. A Way Out is truly a place of healing as we fulfill our calling to share Jesus’ love and message with those in darkness.
Being a mentor has taught me to keep my focus on Jesus. It has humbled me to realize how much we have in common and how much I have to learn from their childlike spontaneity and gratitude as they come to know and love Jesus.
A Way Out provides food, clothing, shelter, addiction and life skill classes, education, mentors, Bible study, counseling, retreats, and lots of love. There are many ways to help. We need clothing and supplies, mentors, intercessors, food for weekly Bible study, rides, provision of entry level jobs, and donations.
There is never a dull moment in this ministry. I have served as mentor, teacher, decorator, painter, cleaner, hostess, cook, and anything else that is needed. As in any rehabilitation ministry, we have disappointments. Yet, Jesus calls us to serve wholeheartedly and leave the results to Him. The joy that comes from seeing changed lives is incredible! Our ministry is based on Isaiah 61:1-4. We truly see captives set free, mourning turned into joy, and oaks of righteousness born and grown. Here is an excerpt of what April shared at her graduation in November about what our life skill classes meant to her.
I thank God for where He has brought me. I can’t take the credit for the change I’ve made. It was God who did it. My heart had to change and I had to take accountability for my own choices. Taking these classes showed me myself and taught me a different way of thinking. I had operated in a belief system of lies, thinking this is who I am and I am never going to change. That’s a lie I believed and had to depend on God to help me make those changes, and He did and still does. I am so in love with God, and I am so grateful for the love He is giving me through these women in this program.
We are under the umbrella of Citizens for Community Values (CCV), which functions as an advocate for community and family values, fighting pornography and sexual exploitation.
If God is speaking to your heart to get involved, we would love to have you as a volunteer.
A Way Out Executive Director Carol Wiley will be making a presentation and there will be an exhibition table where you can speak to representatives and pick up some materials.
A Way Out is one of the greatest opportunities we have for women in our church to make a definitive difference in the lives of others. Please consider giving of your time and telling other women you know about the program.