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From chaos to joy, Melissa finds freedom at Shepherd’s Door

Melissa lived a life of chaos. Before coming to Shepherd’s Door, she was heartbroken, overwhelmed and confused about who she was and what sort of value her life had.

“I came in here with a lot of baggage, and I really had to be willing to let go of it all,” Melissa explained. “I wanted to die. I had to convince myself not to kill myself every single day.

“I was completely broken and so desperate to find anything that would heal my heart.”

And shortly after entering our New Life Ministry for women and children she did. Melissa found something that changed her life forever—from the inside out. Ask her about it, and she can recall the exact day when it happened. On January 21, 2015, Melissa had a heart change—she surrendered her life fully to Jesus Christ.

“I knew at that moment that my life was going to be important. I knew there was going to a huge change in my life—a huge shift in everything I ever knew. I became so open to whatever He had for me,” she said. “I no longer find my identity in anybody but Christ. I am a child of God. And today, I have so much to look forward to and a life I’m absolutely excited about.”

No longer empty, Melissa now carries with her an infectious smile and an overwhelming sense of joy. She is no longer in bondage to her past.

shepherd's door, new life ministry, portland rescue mission

Melissa (left) with Growth Leader Julia Richmond (right).

“Once Melissa was exposed to the Gospel, she was like a really ripe apple ready to fall right into the hands of Jesus,” Growth Leader Julia Richmond said. “And then she just started to grow. Our staff was so amazed how much she blossomed and how quickly she changed. It was so beautiful to watch. … There was true victory in her life.”

After a lifetime filled with heartache, Melissa found a light to finally guide her through the darkness … and she’s more confident than ever before. “I’m in my 40s, and I’ve never felt so free.”

Melissa is currently in Service (an optional second year of vocational training in our New Life Ministry) and working with the facilities team at Portland Rescue Mission.

“I’m really excited to be learning how to do things with maintenance,” she explained. “And I know without a doubt that God is giving me all of these new trades so He can put me out there to make a difference in the lives of other people.”

Melissa has especially developed a heart and passion for the elderly and hopes to do missionary work for the rest of her life as a result.

“I just want to serve God and other people,” she exclaimed. “I’ll help Him do anything He needs from me.”

And with the obedience and optimism Melissa has exhibited during the last 16 and a half months here, she absolutely will.


Melissa (left) with her friend and spiritual mentor Abby Morton (right).

Melissa (left) with her friend and spiritual mentor Abby Morton (right).

Melissa … you are my friend. You are also a treasure. Since the day you accepted Jesus in your life at the beginning of your stay at Shepherd’s Door, I’ve seen you shine, little by little, day by day, more and more. … You’ve earned my trust and respect as I’ve seen you lay down your life daily for the Jesus that saved you. Every time I saw God ask you for something, you obeyed. …

You were once bound by addictions, but now you’re captivated by the love of Jesus. Your obedience shows up as well as your smile. … My prayer is that you will continue to let His light shine and that you will continue to love others, continue to obey and continue to bask in His great love. Like Ephesians 5:8 (NIV) says, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” And if you ever find yourself lost on the path ahead, remember the power of the one that loves you. Remember Psalm 118:5-8. … Cheering you on has been one of the easiest and best things God has asked me to do.


Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV): “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”