I was called to volunteer at Rachel's House a few years ago. I have personally seen the power of Christ's transforming Spirit at work in the lives of the women served by this awesome ministry. As a volunteer, I have witnessed this transformation of Spirit in my own life as well. I know that the residents of Rachel's House experience the love of God in many powerful ways during their time with us. Even if we don't always witness total transformation in a resident, we know, in faith, that the good work God has begun will continue.
I help to lead the Alpha course at the Ohio Reformatory for Women (ORW). Alpha is a basic course in Christianity that lasts 15 weeks. During the course we are able to develop relationships with the women through our small group sharing time. This is where I met Pastor Jan (the original leader of Rachel House) as she was sharing about Rachel House at ORW. Some of the women who I met at Alpha were going to Rachel House upon release and I could see first hand how Rachel House was dramatically impacting their lives and helping them to make positive changes in their lifestyles, insuring that they would not return to ORW. Pastor Jan asked my wife and I to serve on her Advisory Board. While on the Advisory Board we helped start Rachel House Industries whose ultimate goal was to provide jobs for women upon their release from prison. Our first project was to use artwork created by women from ORW to make greeting cards for resale to the public. We have generated several thousand dollars of income for Rachel House through this project.
Over the years that I have been with Rachel's House I have seen the ministry grow. When I started we had 1 woman in the house and a handful of volunteers. It has been amazing to see how God has raised up leaders to fill the leadership positions. I have seen God change and heal the hearts of women that have suffered abuse and trauma. Rachel's House is a safe place for them to heal and thrive. It has been a real privilige to see what God does in the life and hearts of the women. Even if they leave the program early I know that a seed has been planted that will continue to grow. There is no other ministry that I would rather be involved in.
One day I offered myself to work however the people at Lower Lights needed me to work. Bill gave me work in the newest Rachel's house, stripping the walls from the grime of its previous owners. I spent 4 hours scrubbing walls of an empty house, but as I sweated and scraped I couldn't help but pray over the house and dream for what could be. I thought about the women who may come through and the relationships that will be formed. I looked at the kitchen and wondered what kind of guests would be hosted there and what meals would be cooked by women who had been receiving their meals from a line for years. I went upstairs to work and thought about the rest the women would feel as they slept in their new house and as I stepped out on the front porch to cool off I thought of the people watching and long conversations these freed women would finally get the chance to have. The dreams stirred in me that day planted a seed in my mind about taking broken down ugly things (the house) and making them beautiful places of life. If I move back to Columbus when I graduate from University I would like to move into the Franklinton neighborhood and begin a life of making broken things beautiful again.
This is an excellent program where women get a chance to be involved in a healthy community of people who truely care about them and are willing to sacrafice to show them that love. I really enjoyed getting to work with the women individually and see them grow and take steps of faith. Most of these women have had very traumatic and hard lives and this program offers a place for them to experience stability and structure. That experience allows them to grow and form a stable life for themselves once they graduate!
Rachel's House provides a safe, empowering, holistic, compassionate place for women to "start over" after time in prison. These women are mentored and challenged to take the lessons they have learned through life's difficulties and apply them to create a successful re-entry into society. Through Rachel's House, they are able to find spiritual and emotional healing plus pracitical life skills, job training, and more. I have worked with the women and the staff many times over the past 5 or more years and the "real" review is found in the many rescued lives and successful futures of the women served. I wish every woman coming from the prison system could have such a wonderful experience before they are re-integrated into daily life outside the prison walls.
This is a great organization! They are empowering formerly incarcerated women and helping them make lasting changes in their lives. They not only help these women get back on their feet; they also help them heal broken relationships.