This past year I participated in BSF. I so appreciate the singing of traditional hymns. The words are just a testament to the strong faith...Towards the end of the year we sang one of my all time favorite hymns How Firm A Foundation. I’ve sung this hymn many times, but this day I was overwhelmed by the lyrics and how closely they mirror the ministry of Refuge For Women. At first is was only the first stanza that caught my eye. Most likely because it says Refuge and invokes the image of fleeing to a safe place of refuge in Jesus. But as I reflected on the lyrics of the entire hymn I saw the same thread throughout. Allow me to share those thoughts with you.
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?
a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble.
Refuge For Women seeks to be a place of protection for women coming out of the sex industry. Many of the women have fled from a desperate situation or lifestyle. They need a place where they can be safe and sheltered from the life they were living. They have been walking through sinking sand for far too long. They are broken and hurting from all that keeps sinking and slipping underneath their feet. They are longing for a firm place to land and someone they can count on. Refuge provides a temporary foundation that is firm and stable. A foundation they can cling to until they are ready to step out and navigate their life from a new perspective.
Ultimately, their true healing and freedom comes from knowing Jesus and placing him at the center of their lives, but Refuge For Women is blessed with the awesome privilege of introducing them to God's unfailing and everlasting love. For many it is the first time hearing of this kind of unconditional love and for others who may have heard but not experienced Refuge gets to help them walk into experiencing that type of love for the very first time.
Fear not, I am with you, O be not dismayed,
For I am your God and will still give you aid;
I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
Women who have been in The Life are typically filled with fear and trust does not come easily to them. There will be times that fear will overcome them and they will doubt their choice to follow this path. They may be weak and unsure of life apart from all that they've known. I love the image given here of God holding us up by his very own hand. I picture a little girl just learning how to ride a bike. She is unsure and unsteady, afraid to go it alone. She needs aid - someone to teach her, guide her, and to help her accomplish being able to ride gracefully. I imagine Refuge as the training wheels for these unsteady riders as they build into them and teach them the skills they need to go it alone on just two wheels. As the women become more sure of themselves, the training wheels will come off and God himself will uphold them and steady them as they maneuver along the pathway of life. When they stumble or fall he will be there to cause them to stand.
When through the deep waters I call you to go, (Isaiah 43:2)
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with you, your troubles to bless,
And sanctify to you your deepest distress.
For women who have lived through abuse and violence the level of trauma they have experienced can feel like an ocean of water is threatening to overtake them and drown them. Refuge is there with them every step of the way as they process through these feelings as they heal. Refuge is by their side reminding them that the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow. There is hope on the other side of healing and that God wants to bless them with an abundant life filled with purpose. He will sanctify them in their deepest distress of recovery.
When through fiery trials your pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be your supply; (2 Cor 12:9)
The flame shall not hurt you; I only design
Your dross to consume, and your gold to refine.
I love that Refuge For Women is a faith-based program. They teach the women about His grace and encourage them to lean on Him for their strength and supply. The pathway ahead of them will not be easy, but with His grace they have a hope they can cling to and a bright future to look forward to.
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake. (Hebrews 13:5)
I believe that Refuge does a wonderful job of preparing the women for life beyond their program. The women learn to lean on Jesus and are now equipped with the tools to be able to stand firm in the faith and their new found freedom. They know that they will have foes and enemies that will try to shake them, but they now have a foundation that is firm and secure with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. How Firm a Foundation, indeed.