We know that only God can truly transform a life; scripture is clear about that. But to witness radical transformation through Christ on a regular basis is truly one of the privileges that come with being on staff at Miracle Hill Ministries.
Early on in my tenure at Miracle Hill, I attended one of the monthly graduations for Renewal, our 6-month, residential program using a 12-step model to help women experience freedom from life-dominating addictions. The highlight of the graduation ceremonies are the testimonies given by the current graduates. On this particular afternoon, one graduate (I’ll call Janice) said that she had been (her words) a wife and mother. She had had a nice home, a wonderful family, a good life. It was a friend from her teenage years that first offered her a bit of cocaine. It was just a taste, a bite of the apple, if you will, that launched her into a head-long spiral downward into addiction.
At some point in time, Janice made a conscious decision to leave her good life, her husband and children, because the pull of her addiction was so very strong. One painful image seared into her mind was leaving her wedding ring on the bedroom dresser, just before she left the house and disappeared from her family. She walked down the front steps of the family home and stepped into a dark pit of drugs, as well as prostitution, to support her burgeoning drug habit.
Overcoming the Shame
Janice was ashamed to describe the next two-plus years, mostly because her two children, about 8 and 5, were there at the graduation seated directly in front of me. The anguish in her voice was palpable. Tears flowed, and not just hers. Often, as graduates wind up their testimonies, they will address family members directly, usually expressing thanks for support during their recovery. Now and then, there will be an apology for all the family member endured during the speaker’s long period of addiction, usually with multiple recoveries and relapses included.
But when Janice turned to face her two children, I am sure that no one in the room was prepared for what happened next. Because they were seated directly in front of me, I could see that she was profoundly sorry for the pain she had inflicted upon her children, essentially abandoning them to pursue her own pleasure. The emotion evident on her face spoke of a sorrow for which words do not exist. If the bonds between a mother and her children could be severed, surely her actions, she thought, had done just that. She didn’t think that she deserved her husband’s and children’s love, but she wanted it more than air for her next breath.
Anguish Turned to Joy
Through transformation, those who were once far off from God are “drawn near” to Him, through the blood of Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:13). They exhibit renewal, radical change from a life that conformed to the ways of the world to one that pleases God (Romans 2:12). As Janice talked about entering the Renewal program, of learning to love herself, and recognizing God’s love for her, her face turned from one filled with anguish to one of deep and abiding joy. She was no longer the person that had turned away from her family and from God. She was a new daughter in Christ.
Last year, there were 98 graduates from Renewal and Overcomers (our men’s addiction-recovery program). Each of them was a story of transformation through Christ. More broadly, 3,345 individuals were served, including 400 in foster care (26 adopted). So, the 350 employees of Miracle Hill Ministries witness amazing examples of God’s grace and transforming power almost daily.
God displays His grace in innumerable ways. Turns out that during her absence, Janice’s husband had come to a deeper understanding of God’s grace in his own life. That day, at graduation, he held her wedding ring in his hand as she gave testimony of God’s grace in her life. Today, they are a family again.
Post submitted by Wayne Copeland, retired CFO of Miracle Hill Ministries. Now that he has a little more time, Wayne enjoys serving at his church, Redeemer Presbyterian, and spending time with his wife Ann and his Maine Coon cat.