Celebration. Excitement. Anticipation. Transformation. These are all words and feelings that came emanating out of the Jubilee celebration at Shepherd’s Door. Five women had not only finished the 12-month New Life Ministry, they were radically changed as a result.
In front of a room overflowing with family and friends, these five women were able to declare themselves, once and for all, hopeful, restored and filled with possibilities for the future. It was a rousing scene, and one that left everyone inspired.
Graduating from the 12-month New Life Ministry program were Amanda, Lauren, Amina and Lazara (click for pictures). Linda, the fifth graduate, was celebrating the completion of her year of Service. (Service is voluntary, and it’s where graduates spend a second year in our New Life Ministry program giving back, and receiving valuable vocational training in the process). Each of the women graduating will have the option to stay on for another year of Service if they so choose.
Here’s some reaction from the graduates:
Amanda on her journey over the last year – “I came to Shepherd’s Door to change my life. Now I know how to live well and do so for the rest of my life ahead of me.”
Amanda on how she feels now – “I have a lot of joy today because I look at my function, and all these things I’m able to do, and I can’t believe that I’m the person that can do it. I can now wake up in the morning, be happy and look forward to the next day and in the future because I know what’s going to happen.”
Amanda on her experiences over the last year – “In this year, I’ve experienced freedom from eating disorders. I’ve experienced freedom from loss along with what I based it on. And I’ve experienced God’s forgiveness by moving toward it myself. … None of this is anything I could do. … God showed me how to live again.”
Amina on her journey over the last year – “I’m feeling whole today. I feel like I accomplished something and that I’m totally prepared for the rest of my life — all the tools I’ve learned, all the relationship skills I picked up and how to make healthy friendships. I know now that God can be a constant through the rest of my life.”
Amina on some of her biggest moments in the program – “Projecting into the future and setting my future goals has probably been the most powerful thing that’s happened to me recently. It’s helped me really lay out what my goals are.”
Amina on her next steps – “I plan to have a home of my own and healthy companions that meet together often. I want to have prosperous work, and eventually, I want to work in former Soviet countries for some extended periods of time. I have a vision for what my future holds.”
Linda on her Service journey over the last year – “It’s been amazing. I’m totally excited to get out there on my own after going through the whole program and doing my Service. I’ve received so many tools and ample opportunities to use those tools. I’m excited to go out there and make my life now.”
Linda on her next steps – “I’m moving into my own apartment with my son, which is totally awesome. And after taking a class in peer support mentoring, I’ll be getting a certificate for that and getting a job as a peer support specialist. … I’m so excited to share the experiences I’ve had throughout this program and all the opportunities I’ve had to incorporate God into my life.”
Lauren on her journey – “Today, I have a brand new life. A year ago, I was in jail and not seeing my children. Now I have full custody of my daughter. My family and I have a bond, again, and they trust me. My brother and I are starting to have a friendship again. And I have a relationship with Christ that I have always prayed for during my life.
“For so many years, I would always wonder, ‘Why can’t I hear you God? Where are you?’ I know now He’s been right there the whole time.”
Lauren on her next steps – “I’ve moved home and started living with my family and soon I’ll be starting school. I’ll be pursuing a degree in Human Services and I plan to use everything I’ve gone through to help people who are making similar choices to what I did. I’d like either to be an advocate or work with teens, specifically, as a mentor.
“I’m currently volunteering at The Canby House, which is a community center for homeless men and women. I answer phones, hang out with teens and basically do whatever they need me to do around there.”
Lauren on moving back home with her family – “It was surreal. It took a little while to sink in that I wasn’t here at Shepherd’s Door anymore, but it was awesome. We have a relationship we’ve never had before. Now, instead of hiding in my room like I used to, we talk and spend time together. I really enjoy that time with my family.”
Lazara on her journey –
“I was in a treatment program before here and I was told my kids have been taken into DHS custody. … I actually applied to Shepherd’s Door as a Plan B, but God had another plan for me. In a matter of a weekend and two days, I went from No. 12 on the waiting list to come on to Shepherd’s Door for an interview. So when I first got here, my kids were still in DHS custody and I was still just trying to do what I had to do to get them back. … Early in my program, someone asked me if I had ever thought about staying on for service the next year, and I was like ‘heck no,’ I’m getting out of here as soon as I can. Now, here I am at the end of my program, and I’m going into Service. … I’ve really learn to appreciate all the healing and restoration this program has brought me along with all the support and healthy relationships that have been modeled. Now my children and myself get to play a part in all of that living here. I feel very supported and loved here. It’s awesome!”
Lazara on some of her biggest moments in the program – “As my kids and I prepare as a family to go through our story … I saw a clear window into where I came from and how my life was before Shepherd’s Door, and how I’m so grateful to be where I am today.
“Then, I went and had a one-on-one with Bobbi Braker, a Growth Counselor here, and we started reading in Isaiah 61. In verse 3 it talks about ‘beauty instead of ashes’ and how we should celebrate that fact. As I’m reading it, I’m breaking down and crying happy tears because I finally understand what it says. Today, this scripture is being fulfilled in my life, and I couldn’t be more happy about it.”
Five women’s lives, along with their children, have been changed forever.
If you want to be a part of giving hope and restoring life for more women like these ladies, please let us know. Your heartfelt donations of time and resources will not be wasted. Thank you for all your prayers and support.