My experience as an intern at Miracle Hill’s Renewal center has been very important to me. Renewal is a faith-based addiction recovery center for women. It is more than that, though. It’s a community that is so passionate about bringing healing to women through and only through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. I do not speak flippantly when I say I have never seen a ministry so loving and so dedicated to expanding God’s kingdom on earth.
I’m 24 years old and graduated from the University of Florida in May 2016 with a degree in Family, Youth, and Community Sciences. Shortly after graduation, I moved to Greenville, SC. I got involved with Renewal through a program I participated in at Mitchell Road Presbyterian Church called the Fellows Initiative. It’s a nine-month program for recent college graduates that teaches Christian leadership and focuses on how to integrate your faith with work. This program matches you with an internship in a field of your choice. I’m interested in Christian counseling, so when I told the job coordinator what type of internship I wanted, I had two main criteria. The first was I wanted to work with hurting and broken people. The second was I wanted to have the freedom to share the gospel.
Shortly after getting in touch with Renewal, I knew it was the place for me. I could see very quickly that Venus Dixon, the director of Renewal, possessed qualities of humility, grace, wisdom, and love that I was eager to work under. My first day on the job she asked if I would share my story with the residents. I am a shy 24-year-old who has grown up in a loving Christian home and has never actually struggled with a drug or alcohol addiction. So there I was, being asked to share my story to a room full of women ages ranging from about 20 to 60, who have experienced unspeakable suffering, and who are probably wondering what on earth I am even doing there. Needless to say I was feeling exceptionally unworthy and terrified. Those lies were quickly shut down by looks of empathy and sounds of sniffling throughout the room as I told my broken little story.
Christ Redeems the Broken at Renewal
My story includes some sexual abuse, idolization of men, insane amounts of shame, and countless seasons of depression. My story is a testament to how even in the safest, most loving childhood environments, Satan has the power to come in and destroy. Even more so, my story is a testament to how Christ can redeem even the most sad, shameful, broken humans. He has to literally pluck us out of all the muck and severe brokenness we fumble so deeply into. What the Holy Spirit did in that room, through my babbling and nervousness, was astounding. I have never felt so connected to so many humans at once. As soon as I was finished, several of the women shared how they could relate to things I shared and they flooded me with words of encouragement and love that was so Christ like and genuine. There are simply no words to describe the feelings of joy and relational connectedness I felt that day. For the first time in a while I felt like I was in a place where I could be passionate about the work I was doing. I felt like I was in an environment where I could truly thrive.
Since day one Ms. Venus was extremely accommodating in making sure I got experience in all the ways I had hoped. She gave me opportunities to teach my own class, spend one on one time with the girls, and help with the intake process of new residents. Even simple, unglamorous tasks like taking the ladies to doctors’ appointments often turned into sweet times of getting to know them and having deep conversations.
The Greatest Gift
My favorite days at Renewal would hands down be the graduation days. Once a month there is a graduation for the women who complete this six-month program. These ceremonies were the biggest gift to me. The day starts with all the residents and faculty getting together and showering the graduates with words of love and encouragement. A lot of tears are involved with so many beautiful, genuine words spoken. At the graduation ceremonies they get to share their testimonies, which are always life changing. The graduations are open to the public, and I would highly recommend attending. Each one was so inspirational to me.
God is doing tremendous work through Miracle Hill Renewal. Working there has been one of the greatest gifts I have ever been blessed with. I will never forget these women or this experience. I hope to remain in touch with the ladies once they graduate. They are truly some of the most genuine, loving, and beautiful people I have ever known. To God be the glory, great things He hath done.
Post submitted by Carolyn Keen, Fellows Initiative intern at Renewal