White-Water Rafting as Part of Recovery

Posted by Union Gospel Mission Jun 6, 2014 12:34:00 PM

An Immersion in Trust

By Darlene Willis, a resident at the UGM Center for Women & Children in Coeur d'Alene

Rafting and Recovery; facing fear

Last Friday morning, the weather was warm and the sky filled with playful clouds as we – the women of the UGM Center in Coeur d’Alene – set out on our first Summer 2014 adventure. When our vans pulled up to the Spokane River, the tranquility of nature was replaced with energy, laughter and song. Our group of 17 recovery residents and 3 staff members was about to embark on a day of white water rafting. You may ask yourself, "What in the world does rafting have to do with recovery?" A fair question.homeless woman rafting

On the outside, most of us appear healthy and whole. Our appearance does not scream, “homeless” or “addict.” The common trait, the woundedness, that binds us together isn’t readily visible on the outside; but ALL of us struggle with trust to one degree or another. Our previous lives were filled with abuse from parents, husbands, and significant others. In search of elusive acceptance and unconditional love, we latched onto crazy substitutes, and when those failed, we settled for anyone or anything that would numb the pain or help us escape the bitter lives we were living. Ultimately, those choices led us to the UGM Center for Women & Children. 

Broken in spirit, faith and body, we found sanctuary at the Center. The UGM LIFE Recovery program offers one-on-one counseling, addiction therapy, parenting classes, vocational education and seminars to prepare us for a future filled with promise. Worship, Scripture promises and daily Bible lessons are woven throughout our days. However, as intense as the classes and counseling are, they cannot transform a woman from her broken past to an adopted child of our heavenly Father without her surrender. We must learn to fully and completely trust our Savior, Jesus Christ.

rafting produces fear

So why rafting? Each of us came to the river last Friday with some trepidation. Fears of water, the donning of the wetsuit, being thrown (or even pushed) out of the raft and drowning were all expressed. We had to put aside those fears and trust not only ours sisters in Christ, the staff and guides but, ultimately, God. And we couldn’t just verbally assent to such trust; we had to show it by putting on the wetsuit, getting in the raft and moving into the current.

Someone once said that experience is like a rope thrown to us – something we can hold onto. Rafting was an immersion in trust for us. After years of disappointment and broken promises, we experienced the wonders of God and a taste of the paradise which awaits us.

To all staff, volunteers, and donors, we thank you for giving us opportunities like this to grow. 


We didn't have a close-up of Darlene on the rafting trip, but here's another example of the women at the Center having fun and bonding - the kitchen crew for a Table Talk dinner. Darlene is second from the right.


Rafting. Cooking. Tutoring. Budgeting. There are all kinds of ways to get involved in helping men, women and children in crisis. In fact, we put together a book with all the ideas we could think of. Click on the link below to request yours.

download free e-book with 21 ways to help the homeless  


Topics: abuse, Recovery, trust


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