Made to Thrive

Most of our group after our Sunday service at the beach…

Most of our group after our Sunday service at the beach…

Impact is a word that has become more important to me since the launch of this nonprofit ministry.  It's not that I wasn't already aware of it's relevance to everything I was doing in ministry before, but now it is something I feel a keen sense of urgency to measure and keep track of. 

The challenge for us as a ministry, that comes alongside women in their journey of faith and healing in the aftermath of sexual trauma, is the "how." How do you measure your tangible impact in this kind of ministry, when the journey of healing from sexual abuse can last a lifetime? How do you quantify healing that takes place in the very personal relationship between a woman and God?

I've come to realize you can't. But what we can do is share the moments we're privileged to be a part of, and stories of life change and transformation we hear from those we serve. That is the heart behind our monthly "Stories of Hope." My prayer is that these stories reflect the healing work that God is doing in the lives of so many through this special ministry that myself and several others are honored to be a part of.

In the last week of October, 38 women from as far as CA, OH, TN and all over NC came together for our 3rd Annual Hope Restored Women's Conference in Myrtle Beach. Some have taken part in our programs over the past few years, and some who are brand new to our community. Women from all walks of life, who have struggled with stories of abuse, addiction, hardship, grief and loss. Women who are working through challenges in their marriages, family relationships, and jobs. Women simply in need of a heavy dose of encouragement and hope for their journeys of faith and healing.

Kaley Rivera Thompson leading us in a time of worship…

Kaley Rivera Thompson leading us in a time of worship…

God showed up in such personal and profound ways for many and hope was restored. Words cannot adequately express all the good that took place. Friendships were kindled, shame was lifted, Biblical truths long understood were received as personal truths for the first time, and burdens that have been carried for years were laid down at the feet of Jesus. 

One attendee shared…

I have been to many ministry events with cute slogans and the promise of a changed life as a result of some event, however, this weekend was truly indescribable.  My life truly was changed.

This sentiment was echoed among many of the women who attended, and we are all truly humbled to have been a part of that.

We spent time in worship throughout the weekend, led by our dear friend and worship leader Kaley Rivera Thompson from Charlotte, NC. We heard stories of hope and healing from women who came to our first Hope Restored Conference in 2016. Women like Lara Purnell and Hayley Harris, two sisters who came to Hope Restored in 2016 after experiencing the devastation of sexual assault…and returned this year to share about what God has done in their lives to bring about beauty from ashes, through their new nonprofit ministry for assault victims, called Layers of Dignity.

Hayley Harris and Lara Purnell sharing about Layers of Dignity…

Hayley Harris and Lara Purnell sharing about Layers of Dignity…

Layers of Dignity exists to provide the first step towards healing and redemption. Hayley and Lara are nurses in Raleigh, North Carolina who believe that sexual assault survivors deserve not only clothing for leaving the hospital but a picture of the hope and redemption that is available. They do this by providing tote bags filled with brand-new cloths, a next-step guide, and a handwritten note from a fellow survivor, to sexual assault victims within emergency departments of hospitals and women’s advocacy centers. These totes provide a welcome alternative to the paper clothing assault victims are typically given.

We heard from women like author Wendy Baisley Roache, who serves on our board of directors, and came across the country to encourage and inspire our attendees this year. Wendy shared her and her family’s story of hope and healing after abuse from her book, UNBroken, and led us all in an art project to help us remember that “there’s nothing so broken that God’s love cannot put back together.”

Testimonies of God’s redeeming love and faithfulness were shared by Monica Long of Christian Recovery Houses in Wilmington, NC, and Emily Parker of Plexxus Worldwide (who also serves on our board of directors!).

We gathered. We laughed. We cried. We worshiped.

To sum it all up in a sentence, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God was tangibly felt over this special weekend and we all came away changed for the better.

If you would like to attend Hope Restored 2019, stay tuned to our website and social media for the latest news and updates and mark your calendar for October 25th-27th, 2019.

We want to say a huge thank you to our entire conference team, all of our donors and sponsors, attendees, group leaders, prayer warriors, friends and family who helped to make this year’s conference a success! Special thanks to our board of directors, and to The Doubletree Resort by Hilton Myrtle Beach Oceanfront for hosting us the this year!

Walking alongside,

Crystal Sutherland

Crystal SutherlandComment