Our last session of 'Living With Loss took place yesterday. It takes courage to let go and move on, but it can be so very helpful and rewarding.
Sarah and Tracy will be travelling to Kenya at the end of February for a fortnight. We plan to visit 2 Kenyan prisons, one of which is for young offenders, 2 rural areas to visit widows groups, a high school and an orphanage.
The Shine course looks at three different areas; value, strength and purpose. We believe that every woman needs to know that they are valued, loved and have immense worth despite their present circumstances. This in turn boosts their confidence and self-esteem, and helps them to build boundaries into their lives and make better decisions. It also increases their resilience and strength and helps them deal with life in a better and stronger way, believing in themselves and in their God-given purpose and potential.
We want to equip and empower women who have never been told this, who have lived disadvantaged lives, and who have fallen into poor circumstances particularly through no fault of their own. In addition, we want to show Christ's love in action to all those that we come into contact with, and we hope that lives and even generations can be transformed as minds are renewed and changed.
It costs approx. £5 for us to deliver Shine, wash feet and give out flip flops, other valuable aid, and provide a meal and refreshments for one woman.
Can you sponsor a widow or two today?
Our courses have all got off to a great start last week. We hope that as the women come and engage with us they will be open to change, and that their lives will be radically transformed.
So, at the start of a new year, there's new opportunities, new vision, a new page in the book, new chapters for some, fresh hope for all of us, and new beginnings for others.
Today we did a Victim Awareness course, and tomorrow sees the first session of the new 8 week Parenting course in one prison.
And, next week, we commence a new Living With Loss course, and also a new Shine course in another prison.
We are excited at all these new beginnings and expectant for what will be achieved in the lives of those who attend.
Yesterday we started the 'Undaunted' Bible study in our lunchtime group.
Hoping that we will all learn to 'Dare to do what God calls us to do!'
On Monday we had the last session of the Forgiveness Course, We hope that something of the course will impact each attendee, It's tough stuff sometimes!
Last night in our Shine session we discussed 'Potential'.
Don't limit yourself - Your potential is limitless!
Always a great session seeing women realise they needn't be defined by their past. They are always encouraged to dream big and aim high!
After the session one lady stayed behind and asked how she could become a Christian, and gave her life to Jesus.
Give God the glory for what He is doing in these ladies lives.
Today we began another Forgiveness Course in a prison. We hope that by learning to forgive others for what may have been done to us, and learning to forgive ourselves for our bad choices and past indiscretions, many might find freedom.
This week we finished a Loss course with several ladies, all suffering major loss in their lives. Many prisoners have never really dealt with these issues and they can be contributing factors to their crime. They all said that they had found it beneficial and although very emotional, well worth it. We hope that they will continue dealing with their losses, and that they will learn to live out of what they have learnt.
In addition, we have been doing Victim Awareness courses with several ladies, looking at the harm and hurt caused by their actions and crimes. This work is never easy for the ladies to engage in but they do well to see it through and we know it helps in reducing the re-offending rate.
Last week we were privileged to be involved in planning sessions for a new Parenting Course. Many prisoners have never been parented well, and others have never experienced a positive and loving parenting model. We are praying for generational breakthrough as lives are changed and families transformed.
The subject of 'VALUE' has come up many times this week. We began another Shine Women course with 10 ladies and this week's session was on knowing our value and worth as women. Even whilst in prison people still have value, although so many don't believe it about themselves. We also looked at 'SHAME' during our Bible Study - this masks our value, and a prison sentence can make the shame even more heavy.
We are hoping the ladies will learn to live shame-free lives as they deal with many of their issues and look towards the future.
This week has been rather full-on, it started with taking the Sunday service 'inside' where I spoke on 'Surrender', on Monday one lady came and told me she was ready to surrender her life, and ready for a new beginning - exciting times - God is so good!
We also completed more of the Forgiveness Course, and the penultimate session of the Shine Course. In addition, we have done a couple of Bible studies; one to one and in a group, and visited and prayed with several ladies in a pastoral capacity. We are so pleased we get the opportunity and privilege of meeting these ladies and supporting and encouraging them. It is so good to be able to help them as they address various issues in their lives.
Last Monday we started our new Forgiveness Course with 6 ladies. Hoping there'll be much healing over these next 4 weeks.
Last Thursday we had the privilege of delivering the Shine Women course to ladies from the Luminary Bakery in London. It was a real joy to engage with them; to hear of their hopes and dreams for the future, and to be able to speak to them about knowing their value, strength and purpose. As women from disadvantaged backgrounds, it is so important that they grasp the fact that they have immense worth and potential, that they need not be defined by their past and that they can become all that they want to be in the future.
Here are some of the comments from the feedback forms:
"I enjoyed the course very much, had a wonderful day and will try to use these tools to improve my life."
"I think this course has helped me to feel very happy and better about myself."
"I found the course very informative, and it was enjoyable to learn.
To check out the great work that Kahaila and Luminary Bakery are involved with please visit their website: http://www.luminarybakery.com/
Over the last few weeks, we have been working in two prisons. We have been able to run 2 Shine Women courses, 1 Living with Loss course, and 2 Victim Awareness courses. We hope and pray that the lives of those that completed the courses remain forever changed as they have engaged and worked hard dealing with various issues. Here are a few comments from the feedback:
"I am so glad I completed the course, it has taught me a lot about myself, and made me think of me for once. I am more valuable then I have ever realised. Thank you!"
"I was worried at first about this course, but I know that I need to look after me more, and that it is only me that can change how my future looks."
A couple of the ladies we have worked with over the last few years have been released from prison in the last few weeks, and it is such an encouragement to us to see them going out into such hopeful, and positive circumstances. This is one of the joys of what we do, we get to see transformed lives, and women made whole, looking forward to their future and with everything to live for. Positivity can make such a huge difference to their futures.
We just finished another Forgiveness Course this week. It's always good to be reminded that we all need to learn to forgive and also to be forgiven - it really is a mindset thing, a real matter of attitude.
We also completed Session 2 of a Shine course, looking at being 'One of A Kind.' Again, it's so good to be reminded that we are all different, unique, individual, yet valuable - for who we are. Something to be celebrated, each of us with purpose, and a reason for being!
Today we finished our two day Victim Awareness course with 5 ladies. I have to say it has been a pleasure to see these ladies engage and truly reflect on their actions. Sadly, we cannot change the past, but it's so good to see ladies want to change their futures.