by Diane Roland
Four young ladies moved into the Next Step house in April, which put real world legs on our vision. Since they’ve moved in, I have been excited as a new mom drinking in every new development their child makes. When they each did their intake, I saw four beautiful young women, greatly gifted by God and on the cusp of fulfilling their God-given purpose in life – even though my natural eyes saw fear, depression, and physical and emotional poverty. I know that God created each of them with an exciting purpose, and that He wants to prosper them, no matter what their backgrounds or current situations. Now we would begin the journey of getting there.
One day, I found myself encouraging one of the girls who habitually said, “I can’t.” Niki had told me this had become a problem with anything new she was asked to do. “I can’t do the gardening. I can’t understand what I read in the Bible. I can’t cook that. I can’t do this math, etc. etc.”
I ran into this one day while working with her on her English writing assignment. “I can’t write an outline. I always write the paper first.” After much explanation and ado, I told her that I never wanted to hear her say those words again! God gave us breakthrough with this young lady. She never says “I can’t” anymore, and she just passed her GED, thanks to our volunteer education director and other volunteers who prepared her.
We’ve discovered that she has been gifted with an excellent memory and is now filled with dreams and a can-do attitude. Oddly, and please don’t tell the residents, I’ve had to make the same rule for myself when God asks me to do new things (like put legs on a vision). It’s hard to have faith when you are negative. God is never overwhelmed, and we are all growing in Him. Oh yeah…I’m supposed to be telling what the residents are learning from us, not what I have learned from them.
Continuing on – the first phase of the program included trips to the doctor, the dentist, the eye doctor, and the therapist. We could not have managed without volunteers to help. Niki, alias superwoman, reset their internal clocks: early to bed, early to rise. She’s taught them how to clean and how to cook and how to mow. Self-motivation and self-discipline are biggies! In fact, now that several residents have progressed to phase 2, we are working with a non-profit organization called Youth Can for job placement. I could proudly tell the case manager that I’d hire any of these ladies: they will be to work on-time, and they have a great work ethic.
In preparation for Phase 2, the residents have been taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace class, taught by a trained volunteer. They are also taking a career education class, also taught by a volunteer who is a local business owner. And, the residents have grown in their confidence through studying God’s word.
Perhaps the most work has been done here because God does the heart surgery. On this side of heaven, we cannot see how he takes the often angry, bitter, crushed hearts we bring Him and changes them to hearts filled with joy and hope. But He is. I do know that He has used our staff and many people who have volunteered their time and talents to mentor and show the residents what God’s love is truly about.