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“Ashley” Finds Community and Purpose at our Women’s Retreat

by | Feb 6, 2023 | Counselor & People Helpers, Domestic Abuse, Survivor Stories

I’m crying just thinking back at how much God has done in my life through the Called to Peace Ministries He Makes All Things New 2022 Women’s Retreat.

I learned about the Retreat from my CTPM online support group. As a newly single mother of two toddlers, I knew I couldn’t afford it. But the other women in my support group spoke of rest, friendship, education, hope, peace, worship, and understanding. I knew I wanted to go.

Then I heard about the scholarship opportunity. 

When I applied, I thought, “If I get this scholarship, I’ll find a way to get there. I’ll cut back on some things to save up for the gas, food, and anything else.” I asked my support people to pray about this opportunity. I felt nervous waiting to hear back about it.

When I opened the email that said I had received a full scholarship, I was overwhelmed with shock and giddy joy.

It had been such a challenging year. I had learned the reality I had lived in and had left my abusive spouse. I had been unlearning many twisted beliefs and navigating undue shame and fears.

At the moment I read that email, I felt immediately lighter.

Receiving the scholarship was a tangible confirmation from God that He had more plans to heal me in spaces with other people—not alone.

With nervousness and excitement, I drove five and half hours to the retreat.

When I went on an early hike with some ladies, I immediately felt the connections. There was a “knowing” amongst us as we shared our stories or stayed silent. It felt safe.

At the retreat there were daily hugs if you needed them. The CTPM team was careful about allowing space for the oppressed to heal and find respite. There were no expectations for us to be in a mental, emotional, or spiritual place we weren’t ready for. They encouraged us to listen to our bodies and gave us concrete strategies to return to a calm state if we were triggered or just not okay. Ladies were available all day to pray with us any time, and we could talk with CTPM-affiliated advocates if we needed to. 

The greatest thing I took from the retreat was the relationships I started building.

I believe God appointed my roommate (who I didn’t know beforehand) to share the room with me. She was such a gentle, sincere soul who was so understanding as we shared our stories and struggles in tears. We encouraged each other with hope for the future, even though we couldn’t answer all the questions.

On the last day, by crazy “chance,” I met two people who lived just 30 minutes from me. One of them was a Divorce Care facilitator, and the other was her friend who had just finished the course. They invited me to start the new course, which was literally beginning the day after the retreat was over. Talk about divine encounters! I started the next day and spent about five months in Divorce Care, building new relationships with more women who ministered to me and are now part of my tribe. The three of us who met on the last day of the retreat are currently enrolled in the CTPM Advocacy Training Course. We look forward to being CTPM-affiliated advocates together.

God continues to confirm His plans for good in our lives as He redeems our stories of oppression, from abuse to freedom and life in Christ. I can look back and say, praise God for that scholarship. Praise God for the people who gave. Praise God for the women who get to go.

The scholarship was more than just money sent to a charity, cause, or ministry. It was a catalyst in God’s plan for my life. I know I’m not alone on earth in this journey.

He has given me many friends to walk with and become advocates for other women because of that scholarship.

Praise God, He got me to the mountains of North Carolina to attend the He Makes All Thing New Women’s Retreat.