Ray of Hope is a non-profit childrens' services agency that was started by a man and his wife in an effort to help homeless children in our community. The director, Laura, is amazing. They started this program about 8 years ago, after visiting homeless children in a downtown area. All of their mothers were prostitutes and would kick the kids out to the streets at dusk so they could put their motel/apartments to use. Laura and her husband started ministering to these kids by bringing them food out of their car. They made it a recurring trip and befriended many o these little kids.
It soon turned into a much more comprehensive ministry. They solicited various churches and individuals/business people to help them in caring and providing for the basic needs of these children. That'sROH in a nutshell. Eventually, they became a legally recognized non-profit, complete with a Board of Directors and have also been awarded the County's honors for Child Protective Services Agency of the Year on more than one occassion.
I met Laura at my first informational meeting for a program I wanted to start for teen moms. In June 2007 I sent a letter out to 30 various chrches in my town, trying to garner support from the church body to help these young mothers. I briefly described my own experiences in being a teenage mother as well as what it was like to have to make a decision to not have an abortion. Twice.
Once as a teen, and again as a grown woman, happily married with 3 living children.
In the letter I mentioned how I wanted to reach out to these girls and that it is the churches responsiblity as a Body to help them. I was going to host a meeting and asked all those that were interested to come and share in their ideas as to what we can do. I firmly believe that I was given scripture for this ministry, based on the story in John chapter 5. There was a paralytic man at the pool of Bethesda that was waiting for an Angel of the Lord to stir the waters; for whoever was sick and was able to be the first into the waters after the Angel stirred them would be healed.
Upon waiting on the porch, Jesus appeared to the man and asked him if he wanted to be made well. He said yes, but had no one to help him get into the water. Jesus told him to get up and walk. He had been healed. And so he did.
This passage really spoke to my heart because I feel like so many of these girls want to change and get their lives in order, but they have no one to help them. Ultimately, it is Jesus that does all of the work, but it takes a change in them to see the change He made for them. To Him be all the honor and glory.
"The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well..." John 5:15
So needless to say, out of the 30 letters that I sent out, only a handful of people came to my meeting and they were all from one church. Except Laura. She was a friend of Caroline. And Caroline, by the way, is the wife of Fred. The man at the abortion clinic.
Now as the Lord would have it, a couple of weeks before I sent out this letter to the churches, I met with the head Pastor of the church where the MOPS meetings are held. MOPS is a mom's group (Mothers of PreSchoolers) that I was intimatley involved with during the tumultuous time with Charlotte. I was also attending a weekly Bible study at this church, so as things progressed with Charlotte, many people were praying for us. And many people knew of the situation.
Going into meeting the head Pastor of the church was initially to discuss budgeting and things like that for our group. But midway through our conversation, I expressed to him how much his congregation had reached out to us and helped us through that time. Then out of no where, I blurted out (yet again!) that perhaps we should start a Teen MOPS program or something of the sort. I was really taken aback at my boldness, because up until that point, I hadn't given this much thought. I had no details to work out because I had no idea where to start. He agreed to discuss it more with me and that was the end of the meeting. I woke up later that night with a heavy burden on my heart to write the Pastor a note thanking him for taking the time to meet with us and I reiterated my sincerity on starting a group of some sort for teen moms.
He responded back within a few hours and put me in contact with Caroline.
I met with her two days later and it was exhilerating! Our conversation was awesome. We talked about Charlotte (she already knew) and I let her in on my own experience in having a child at 17. I told her that I seriously considered abortion but chose to keep the baby. I had no idea that she was married to the man I'd met at the abortion clinic almost 2 years earlier.
She told me that she and her husband (Fred) had been praying for a long while about this type of thing that I was trying to do. She actually said that just 2 years before (or thereabouts), they had considered taking over the pregnancy center or revamping it to target teens, I think. She said that she felt a calling for it, but it just wasn't for them to do just yet, so they "sat on it" as she said, and waited for God to bring the right person to her.
Woah! Tears flooded my eyes. She smiled quietly.
It was so exciting.
I knew...just KNEW... I was right where I was supposed to be.
So we talked a few more times and it was she and 3 other people that came to the meeting. And she invited her dear friend... Laura, the Director of Ray of Hope.