Vision of Hope (VOH) is a residential program for women ages 14 and older struggling with eating disorders, addiction issues of all types, self-harm habits, and unplanned pregnancies. With loving pastoral oversight and church family support based upon relationship-building among residents and church members, VOH is intricately woven into the fabric of Faith Church. A few years ago, VOH launched an “upcycling” thrift store called Reclaimed Hope. Some spiritual metaphors of the thrift store and the program itself come to mind.
1. Discarded Items
Reclaimed Hope accepts donated items no longer desired by the owner. Often these items are viewed as invaluable or used up, occupying costly space, and ready to be thrown out. How hopeless and sad when you realize this is how some of the women in our program have been treated! Our thrift shop finds items that have been trashed, given away, and discarded and repurposes them, sometimes fashioning them into rare jewelry.
At VOH, we view our residents as priceless, with eternal value. What sets us apart as biblical counselors is hope; hope for a new life and hope for a new eternal purpose for living. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Rom. 15:13). The world approaches many of life’s issues with the belief that one can only “cope” with their life-long psychological disorders, requiring mental health counseling and medications. Binge eating and purging, heroin addictions, and self-injury are treated as diseases, so hopelessness abounds in the secular world of treatment for these issues. Often marginalization of those suffering from real struggles results as well.
At VOH, we believe our residents can be transformed by the Holy Spirit as they confess the deep-seated lies they have believed with truth from God’s Word. Remarkable changes take place as the thoughts, attitudes, and intents of the heart line up with God’s Word. Righteous actions can follow those beliefs by the power of the Holy Spirit (Phil. 2:13). We never discard hope for any resident who enters our program because we believe she is an image bearer of the One True God and, therefore, valuable to God with gifts and abilities God has bestowed to her. And as long as she is alive, there is hope for change!
2. Re-purposing of Discarded Items
Our thrift shop team and residents can re-purpose pages from old magazines by creating jewelry, coasters, and even decorative vases. It’s quite astounding really.
The same transformations can happen in the lives of our residents at VOH. We love the fact that God allows us to share in His work. He doesn’t need us but He takes pleasure in working through us by His Spirit and Word to offer a new life and a new purpose to women who are often treated as discarded items. Through the teaching of the Word and biblical counseling, we hope in Christ to bring about a renewed mind in the women we serve. We want them to see that the past will never plague them if they understand God’s redemptive purpose of never wasting their pain but using it to transform them into Christ-likeness and causing in them a longing to serve God wholeheartedly in their true purpose. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says it this way: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
3. Under New Ownership
Ultimately, the items in our upcycling thrift shop are joyfully purchased by a new owner. In like manner, God gives our transformed residents a new purpose and He owns them, as Romans 6:17-18 states: “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” Many of our women are born-again while in the program, and they learn the true character of God through careful disciple-making, rigorous teaching, service within the church, rich fellowship, and biblical counseling. The graduates of the program have developed an intimate relationship with the King of Kings who loves and cherishes them as evidenced by the sacrifice of Jesus to redeem them. 1 Corinthians 6:20 reminds us that we were all “bought with a price.” The excitement of our thrift store customers as they treasure and value the unique upcycled items they purchase reminds everyone of how God treasures and values each unique individual in our residential program.
These three aspects of the Reclaimed Hope thrift shop are obviously symbolic of the work God does through this very special program. At our annual benefit on September 23, 2017, we plan to have resident and graduate testimonies, songs of praise, and a great time of celebrating the redeeming work of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Mark your calendar and plan to join us in Lafayette, IN for this celebration of the faithfulness of God, who offers hope to the hurting!
Questions for Reflection
How do you view the hurting souls around you? Are they valuable or discard-able? Do you ever find yourself giving up hope for change for those caught in certain life-devastating sins?
What hope does your local church bring to troubled souls that might be different than the world’s system of care? What testimonies of hope are there among you in your local church family?
Have you considered a financial gift to VOH? Or how about shopping for gifts online at Reclaimed Hope in order to support the unique Kingdom work going on at Vision of Hope?
Mark Shaw (D.Min.) is the Executive Director and Pastor of Vision of Hope, a girls’ residential ministry of Faith Church in Lafayette, IN. He has served in a variety of residential, outpatient, and pastoral roles throughout his ministry, but his passion remains “making disciple-makers by speaking the truth in love.”