Sometimes we look at our world and think it is nothing but chaos, brokenness, bitterness, tremendous hurt and pain. We wonder if grace and graciousness have been forgotten. But stop, look and listen.
There are places where grace is not forgotten but rather extended in mighty ways. One of those places is BraveWorks, a nonprofit organization serving women locally and globally who are overcoming human trafficking, abuse, addiction, incarceration, generational poverty, and ethnic persecution. Grace extended is the heartbeat of every woman who works or volunteers at this organization.
Grace extended comes through the knowledge that we are each a sinner saved by the grace of God. If it wasn’t for God’s grace extended to us, we would remain broken, barren, burdened. This knowledge allows us to look at another through the eyes of Jesus and extend, yes extend, his grace, compassion and unconditional love to each other.
As a mentor we recognize that each woman who comes to BraveWorks arrives filled with fear. Yet, she has taken the “brave” steps to overcome her fear. She is on a new path of self- discovery. She is asking herself, “Will I be safe in this environment?” “Will I be treated with respect?” “Will I be judged for the mistakes I have made?” “Will I be disappointed, betrayed, rejected, abused again?” “Can I trust these people who are offering to walk with me?”
These voices in her heart are now her new battles. She has hard choices to make.
Choices to participate in the program; to stay on this new path.
Choices to come back each and every week.
Choices to expose her weaknesses, her vulnerabilities, her failures.
Choices to trust the legitimacy and the sincerity of the mentors and staff.
Choices to receive the grace extended to her? Can she win this new battle?
As we, as mentors, pour out God’s love and grace, we learn the impact of grace extended. Our graduates use words such as “I found this place to be a safe space.” “I couldn’t wait to return each week.” “I wish we could meet more than once a week” “I felt a great sense of belonging here.” “It felt like home.” “I began to live again.” These are winning statements indeed.
It is more than a joy for us to see these young women begin to heal, to see them lift their heads high, to put their shoulders back, to smile again with their eyes, not just their lips. A joy to see them reach their goals and graduate from the program. In other words, we see them winning the battle with a desire to extend grace forward to other hurting women and girls.
God’s grace extended moves all of us from beautifully broken to beautifully radiant.
“I sought the Lord and He answered me. He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant. Their faces are never covered with shame.” (Psalm 34:4-5 niv)
By: Norma Dougherty (BraveWorks' mentor)