How to Make Your Dollar Go Farther This Christmas…

I met with a man this week who is willing to give me his house.

For free.

For real.

That was a first for me.

Hold up…..let me fill you in on the backstory.

——————–

A year and a half ago I met Keisha. In jail. She was about half way through a three-year incarceration. She had grown up in a good home: two parents, a brother, raised in church, gave her life to Jesus around the age of six, and was baptized then. A storybook beginning.

Until Keisha turned 12.

She caught the itch of rebellion and took a hard right off the straight and narrow. She was an unwed mother and in an abusive relationship with the father of her sons at age 13. Bad choices led to more bad choices, an apathetic attitude, and a disrespect for authority and others in general.

Her trajectory was set towards jail from the onset of adolescence.

Fast forward 20 years on that path and Keisha is incarcerated on December 5, 2013. Once she walked in, she did not walk out for three years.

And though Keisha had taken a detour from God’s blueprint for her life, His plan for her would not be thwarted. She brought her hard, defiant perspective into the detention center when she was booked, but this was His response…

Since she tried it His way, she has been baptized again, seen the Lord bless her with and develop her spiritual gifts, and grown into this crazy vibrant relationship with Him.

Six weeks ago, I received a call from a number I didn’t recognize. Which is not all that uncommon. I don’t answer calls from numbers I don’t know. Who am I kidding? I don’t answer calls from numbers I do know (I abhor talking on the phone).

The next day I received a call from the same number. And this time there was a voicemail.

When I listened, I heard Keisha’s voice on the other end, “I’m at home, Mrs. Cookie! I was released yesterday.”

And I really am as spastic as you might guess, so I started screamining. “AAAAHHHHH! WHAT!?!?!? How did this happen?? I just saw you on Sunday. We just prayed together on Sunday, and we did not know you might go to court. Tell me what happened!!!!!!!”

Since Keisha’s release, we have spoken every few days, enjoyed several lunch dates, and filmed a few interviews. I’ve had the opportunity to walk beside her and witness the challenges that accompany freedom after a long incarceration…

After a year and a half of jail ministry, I am confident we can do better. I have witnessed the unlikelihood of success when a woman comes in and sees Jesus use incarceration to protect her and woo her, and then we send her back into circumstances that haven’t changed. As great as the changes in her may be, the assault on God’s work in her life is IMMEDIATE upon release.

I am telling you, it is no wonder many return to decades-old destructive choices.

Enter the vision for Five Sparrows.

It is the long-term vision of Tenacious Grace to bring a transition home for formerly incarcerated women to the Pee Dee – Five Sparrows (based on Luke 12:6). A safe place dedicated to providing the support and scaffolding critical to these ladies’ ability to write a new story with Jesus. Spiritual stability, community, encouragement, life skills, counseling, accountability, and job connections to name a few.

The need is present.

The need is great.

And as confident as I am of my own name, I am confident this vision is from the Lord. It is consistent with His heart for the oppressed, the marginalized, and the captive:


 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’”

Matthew 25:37-40 (NLT)

One way I know it’s from Him is because I didn’t like the idea initially. Well, I LOVED the idea, but not its attachment to me. I suggested He tell someone else to do it. In a very Moses-like fashion, I have assured Him I can’t do this. I have told Him it’s too hard. I don’t know how to raise money. We, the Tenacious Grace team, have a lot to learn about recovery programs and recidivism. I have bargained and tried to convince Him this is too big for us. Yet He is unpersuaded.

He listens. He smiles. And each time He reminds me so very little of this depends on us.

So. With no confidence in myself but all the faith in my God, I tell you this thing is going to happen. Write it in your Bible. Write in your journal. Write it somewhere you can come back and appreciate God’s faithfulness.

It will happen.

I may get hit by a bus tomorrow, but His vision will persist to fruition.

Now back to the house…

——————–

We have been sharing and casting this vision for the past six months, and we’ve gotten connected with a homeowner who is willing to donate his home to Tenacious Grace for Five Sparrows.

Isn’t it too perfect?

But here’s the thing. It’s on their family land and has to be moved to make way for the house they’re building.

We are looking for partners who believe in this vision, and here’s how you can get involved, depositing your dollars into someone’s future and providing hope…

How can you invest in the futures of formerly incarcerated women?

  • Get Keisha connected to a job opportunity in Darlington County. Like yesterday. This is our most immediate desire. As we are walking with her through her transition, this is vital to her future. She is warm, super capable, loves Jesus, and ready to hit the ground running. Make some calls and help us help her.
  • Donate financially and consider scheduling a recurring gift. At the very least, it will cost $18,000 to move the house, about the same to repair it once it’s relocated, and we’ll also have the expense of laying a foundation before the move. And this speaks nothing of insurance, operating expenses, etc… (I had to cut the list short as I was starting to hyperventilate). As a registered nonprofit, your donation is tax-deductible, and we will supply a contribution letter for your tax purposes. If you prefer to give by check, our mailing address is Tenacious Grace, PO Box 7611, Florence SC 29502.
  • Land. We are looking for 10-15 acres of rural land to allow for growth and expansion. And we’re looking for someone to donate it. Someone who would love to see their property used for eternal purposes.
  • Share this blog post. Comment on it. Like it if you see someone else share it. Help us use the Facebook algorithm to get in front of people outside of our current circle of influence. The more you interact with this post, the more Facebook will keep it cycling in front of people.

You are officially invited.

Invited to be a part of something bigger than you and bigger than me. Invited to invest in impact that will outlive us when our dollar’s buying power is usually spent on short-lived gratification. Our belief in God’s vision fuels our faith in His provision, and you and I have the opportunity for a front row seat.

Because here’s the reality, God’s already at the groundbreaking for Five Sparrows. And He’s already at Day One of Five Sparrows. And even more than that, he’s already at the Five-Year Anniversary of Five Sparrows; we just have to hang on in belief and work hard.

Thank you…

Thank you for believing with us in what God wants to do through this ministry.

Thank you for believing that Jesus cares about the marginalized.

Thank you for believing that He means to take care of those society considers disposable.

We are humbled and honored by your partnership. Merry Christmas!

Spilling the Secret to Living Your Life Like a Boss
For the Women with Walls Around Our Hearts. And for the Men Who Love Us.

6 Comments

  1. Carson Cawthon
    Carson CawthonReply
    December 15, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    I love this and you a whole ton!!!

    • Cookie Cawthon
      December 15, 2016 at 11:42 pm

      And I love you a million, sweet girl! It is an honor to be your mama!

  2. Kristi Dunn
    Kristi DunnReply
    December 16, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    Wow Cookie. Just WOW! So proud of you and everything that God is doing through you. Such an inspiration! <3

    • Cookie Cawthon
      December 16, 2016 at 11:19 pm

      We sure do miss you in Flo-town, but I love seeing your school posts and that sweet lil’ fella. Thank you for reading…..much love to you!

  3. Scott Bostick
    Scott BostickReply
    December 16, 2016 at 10:23 pm

    I love this! I have a friend who may be able to help with this. I will see what I can do.

    • Cookie Cawthon
      December 16, 2016 at 11:18 pm

      That would be so great, Scott! Thank you! Just let me know if you need any more information… Merry Christmas to you and Julie!

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