She came into the staff office of the Crisis Shelter. Her black eye drew my attention and I tried not to stare. I had known Sue* for a couple years and had watched her do an awesome job of working hard and attempting to do the right things. She would listen attentively to biblical counsel, watch the Christian videos we play at the shelter, and attend the small groups and chapel services. As we talked, she shared stories of loss due to a history of addiction. Each stay she would come in tired and worn out. And each time, after a few days, she would be energized and strengthened, nearly glowing with enthusiasm. Unfortunately, another pattern emerged: As her man was released from jail, she would run to him and begin the process all over again.
Now, as I looked at Sue, I felt a profound sadness. Part of me was angry that again and again she had chosen this man who obviously did not value her. I longed for her to fully accept Christ as the Lord of her life. My singular hope for her was to invite Jesus to be her guide. There were no words, both of us processing broken hearts. Then, after some tears and listening to her most recent story, she was checked into the Crisis Shelter on East Sprague.
Sue’s story is not atypical. Over forty percent of the ladies who come to the shelter have been experiencing domestic abuse and yet, for a long list of reasons, are not able to permanently leave their abusers. During her stay here, Sue will be able to feel physically safe. She will receive love and affirmation, as well as accountability from the staff. Through a partnership with Abuse Recovery Ministries and Services (ARMS), we offer a 16-week support group for those who have experienced abuse.
As of today, Sue is still free of her abuser. Though the damage in her heart will likely take many years to heal, she is now walking with Jesus, and He is leading and guiding her thoughts and actions. While the shelter could only provide temporary protection, Jesus is her permanent safe shelter.
~Rich Schaus, former Director of UGM Crisis Shelter for Women & Children