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Do you remember the darkest dark you’ve ever experienced? I know I do.

3-2014-Phil-1One summer, my family went to the Lewis and Clark Caverns in Montana. I clearly remember descending the rough stone stairs through a tunnel hewn in the rock and coming out into a spacious underground room with stalactites and stalagmites. Like most boys under 10, I could easily imagine myself as an explorer hunting for treasure or braving unknown treachery to save a damsel in distress. But my unbridled courage was short-lived. When we had all made our way safely to the middle of the underground cavern, our guide shut off the lights, and I experienced darkness unlike anything I’d ever known before. I could not see my dad standing next to me. My fellow adventurers – my four brothers – had vanished. I was alone in the dark. I could not even see my own hand when I moved it in front of my face. I didn’t dare take a step. I’m sure the lights were only out for a matter of seconds – not long enough to allow true terror to set in – and yet, the memory of that absolute blackness sticks with me.

Many of the women who come to our shelters have known a spiritual darkness far more terrifying than physical darkness. They’ve grown up in broken homes and been surrounded by addiction and violence. They’ve been neglected, shoved aside, belittled and de-valued, and as they moved into adulthood, their relationships with men have yielded more of the same. In the greatest tragedy of all, the darkness has begun to feel “normal.” Is there anything else? This is all I’ve ever known. They lose hope.

Just as I felt like I could not venture even a small step in the complete darkness of that Montana cave, homeless women are often bewildered and disoriented, afraid to venture a step in any direction lest they end up in even worse circumstances.

 It is next to impossible to make the right choices in the dark.

 That’s where you come in. You are shining the light of the gospel into the darkness that surrounds these women and their children. You know that a world of wonder and beauty awaits them in the Light of their heavenly Father, and you are inviting them out of the darkness.

The nature of the rescue business is that not everyone who steps into the light will stay, but you are giving them the opportunity to experience it, to see that life can be different, and oftentimes, even when they leave, they come back.

Thank you for being a light in the darkness.

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