She Doesn’t Deserve Your Help. Or So They Say.

All I want for Christmas is $250,000 and 10-15 acres (with a pond if I’ve been really good).

I’m low-key like that.

It’s the stuff dreams are made of. A wooded frontage split by a dirt lane that immediately curves and leaves passersby curious about what lies beyond the bend. Grass grows between the well-worn tire tracks, and the road winds like a shy child directing a game of Follow the Leader. It opens onto an expanse of land hemmed in on every side by pines and maples and oaks and elms – sentinels keeping watch and holding hands. Their chins are high with pride; they mark the perimeter of a safe place. A place where hope lives.

In the middle there is a white, rustic farmhouse; a stone walk arcs towards the entrance, lined with dense, variegated monkey grass. There is a deep porch stretching the length of the house. Four rockers, ivy spilling liberally from hanging baskets, and two gold lanterns with dancing fire flank either side of the door. A haint blue ceiling, of course.

Inside, the vibe is comfortable and classy. Warm earth tones hug. Exposed beams anchor. The fireplace invites. The common areas are spacious, open, built for conversation. And the table. What a table! A wooden beauty that’ll seat twelve or so, with a black iron chandelier installed above. The kitchen can handle many hands with its gracious workspace, its generous storage, and its walk-in pantry. A wall of windows looks toward a pond reflecting the late afternoon sun.

It’s a home. A bona fide home. But it’s not for me.

It’s for women who were little girls without stability and security. It’s for women who endured the most vulnerable years of their lives without a protector or a champion. It’s for women who never, ever had a chance. And without a place like this, they still don’t. It’s a home for formerly incarcerated women, a safe place to write a new story.

I have the honor of leading Tenacious Grace, a nonprofit women’s ministry, and serving on the Florence County Detention Center Ministry Team. My two and a half years on the FCDC Ministry Team have made me acutely aware of the need for free, transitional housing for incarcerated women upon their release. The need for counseling and job assistance and recovery programs and life skills and spiritual support.

It is the long-term mission of Tenacious Grace to bring this type of assistance to marginalized women in the Pee Dee area. We dream about a home called Five Sparrows.

Scripture is clear that we are “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20) – His managers, His stewards, His deputies. As such, we are to reflect His character and His heart. Matthew 25 speaks pointedly to our responsibility to use what He has entrusted to us (the Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25:14-30) to take care of the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized (the Sheep & the Goats, Matthew 25:31-40). In short, Truth compels us to use the resources God has given us to be agents of justice. To be equalizers in circumstances of disparity. In Jesus’ Name.

As a ministry, we are fast approaching our land goal, which means we have raised enough money to buy a 10-15 acre tract of land if the right opportunity presented itself. Next, we’ll begin chipping away at the house goal. You guessed it. $250,000.

Incarcerated women are a hard sell when vying for charitable giving. Many times, people – even if they don’t blatantly say so – believe these women “have gotten what they deserve.” That sentiment incites something primal in me; however, I’ve stopped arguing against it. Perhaps, if you’re honest, that’s what you think. These women don’t deserve help.

I now suggest that as the most compelling reason for helping them. Because here’s the thing….

Not one of us was saved, rescued, delivered by Jesus because we deserved it. So, we help because we, too, have been beneficiaries of a grace we did not deserve. That’s the beautiful thing about grace; it has to be undeserved. That’s what it is by definition – unmerited favor.

So, if you’d like to make our Christmas (New Year’s, Valentine’s, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and Columbus Day) wishes come true, you can donate online to our Facebook fundraiser today. And because today is #GivingTuesday, Facebook has waived all fees on donations, and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is matching donations to nonprofits given through Facebook – today only. So you can double your impact by giving in the next 14 hours.

And if you’d like to give again anytime outside of today, you can always catch us at tenaciousgrace.cc/donate or you can mail a check to Tenacious Grace, PO Box 7611, Florence 29502. All donations are tax-deductible. You can learn more about our ministry at tenaciousgrace.cc or follow Tenacious Grace on Facebook and Instagram.

This Christmas, we invite you to invest in hope.

I've Been Hurt by the Church...

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