Serenity Shelter was at capacity when we made our first visits to women taking refuge in rooms once
hosting wealthy widows decades before. How do you love broken women whose eyes expose walls left
by years of pain?
For the past three years a team of Christian women has been reaching out to hurting women finding
renewal at Serenity Women’s Shelter. Slowly, through learning and patient planting of love seeds, fruit
began to show. A simple plan for loving dejected women around us emerged, proving that God loves
people through people.
How to Love Women in Restoration
If there’s a need for love, someone has probably laid the foundation. Find out who else sees the need in
your community; learn all you can. Link up to provide meaningful channels for investment.
In our case a shelter welcomes women to a house of refuge, offering a Christ-centered plan for life change. While clients bring an array of needs ranging from physical abuse to addiction to homelessness and illness, all women need love to lift them from their pit. By working with trained shelter staff, we understood ministry and individual needs, identifying gaps we could fill.
2. Cast Vision
Host a Vision Meeting to inform others and share your passion. Offer real examples, so “healthy”
women understand what they have in common with the “needy.” Provide understanding of who
“shelter women” are, what they need, and how people can help. As women of faith learn about the
mothers, grandmothers, educated, poor, wealthy, married, and unmarried ladies finding sanctuary
together, eyes and hearts open. Vision grows for how women of any season or status can be conduits of
3. Develop Your Team
Working with ministry staff, mobilize the team by meeting to plan your strategy. Develop a clear
statement of purpose to guide decisions about how to spend limited resources of time, energy, and
Plan activities that accomplish agreed upon goals, designating a leader to coordinate each event. By
spreading out responsibilities and planning in advance, teams avoid burnout from working with women
in crisis. For long term ministry health, love strategically. A team leader or member may be the communication hub between the team and shelter.
Communicating needs, prayer requests, and victories motivates the team to keep serving and keep
4. Stay at the Wall
At first, we were met by a “wall” left behind by abusive people; the wall grew as other volunteers came
and failed to follow through. If life has let a woman down, she encases herself with protective layers:
How do we break through barriers?
- We prayed about needs they shared and cared about the burdens.
- We gave things like tampons, underwear, deodorant and scrapbooking supplies.
- We went when scheduled to go, even if it wasn’t convenient.
We prayed. We gave. We kept going.
Women in crisis have few joys. Friendships grew out of fun theme activities, painting flower pots,
carving pumpkins, making jewelry, scrapbooking, cooking, and making ornaments. As we crafted, we
talked, and as we talked, we shared, and as we shared, trust was born. Love thrives in the soil of trust.
Shelter staff carry heavy loads of counseling, discipline, and instruction. Recovering women need
friendship from Christian women who love them, let them into their world, and cheer them on as they
struggle. Givers and receivers discover blessing.
Time and tangible giving opened doors for the team’s real influence. Bible study groups offered the
chance for truth teaching. Team members testified of God’s personal grace during chapels, spiritually
feeding the growing babes in Christ. They stepped up to mentor one on one, walking through
restoration up close and personal. Others women assisted as prayer partners and sponsors for Bible
studies, enlarging the support circle.
Trust tore down walls, and love entered in, welcoming influence disguised by craft nights and gifts of
needed personal items.
Addiction cycles hold their slaves tightly. Recovering women need support while they transition into
normal life, create new networks, and fight off the devil of relapse. Only a woman who knows God’s
unconditional love can love another broken woman unconditionally. There will always be a need for places of Serenity. God sees women needing refuge and restoration, and
He sees those with arsenals of love. As the beloved show love to others, they receive so much in return.
With a simple plan, love can fill empty lives in a community as God loves people through people.
Julie Sanders is a Women’s Ministry Leader with a passion for broken women in her local community and globally. She loves to teach God’s word, applying truth to life and helping women know God’s peace. The Serenity Team has served alongside the staff in planting seeds of love for three years. Only in heaven will they know the fruit.