As I stepped out in faith and accepted my first RAEA Program Survivor on April 1st (April Fools day) I remember thinking to myself, how in the natural it felt foolish to jump in to serve while I was so relatively new to Rescue Houston. According to my own plans, I thought I would train for at least 3 months and then accept a Survivor to provide case management. I was in a real moment of making a critical decision that would forever impact my life as well as the Survivor’s. I committed to seeing her through the 60 Day journey in the RAEA Program and as I paused, prayed, pondered, and then proceeded, I felt peace from the Lord to accept K.M. as my first Survivor!
After a strong start, we had a bump in the road that almost cost her spot in our program, and she was later released from her shelter due to a shelter guideline infraction. This is a common issue with the survivors we serve. If they do not adhere to the shelter’s requirements, they will be asked to leave. I remember that day, the feelings she was experiencing were very real. Feelings of fear, shame, disappointment, afraid of what was next, and how she blew her opportunity and found herself truly homeless. As we began calling shelters, with the help of our Hotline, doors were not opening for her to remain in Houston. However, towards the end of the day there was a door that opened and it was out of the city limits. It was decision time, she needed to make a decision to accept that opened door and go to that shelter, far from the safe connections she already made and start all over.
With her entire life’s belongings in two black trash bags in the back seat of my car, we sat together as she cried and kept lamenting over her mistake that cost her space in the safehome.
Time and time again, I only knew to pray and to encourage her; If we prayed and believed, God is faithful and He would make a way! And He did just that! I received a call from a strategic long term shelter partner and the directors decided to accept her into their long term housing where residents live independently with minimal supervision for up to 2 years as they build life skills, prepare for job readiness, pursue career and educational pathways. Her tears of grief immediately transformed into tears of joy! I saw our Survivor renew her hope and faith in that instant as she sincerely praised The Lord for another opportunity.
After a couple of weeks K.M. returned to our RAEA Program to begin her 60 days with us once more. The Lord did a beautiful work in her heart and she returned with a fresh new perspective and drive to contend for her faith and healing! I could tell she had tremendous focus stemming from her heart to complete the program in strength.
She became a leader among the other participants and set a standard for others to follow as they gathered for support group every Friday. Furthermore she attended weekly AA meetings and still continues to attend those to this day. I remember one of our meaningful conversations as I drove her to Beaumont for the Approved Housing orientation she was required to attend. We had great laughs as we drove and practically spoke about everything, including casting vision for her goal to start her own cleaning business. We discussed that a great name for her business would be “Royal Heart” Cleaning Services. The meaning behind it is that she is the daughter of The King and He has given her a new heart, rooted in her new identity as His child. Her commitment is that she works and does everything as unto the Lord, wholeheartedly! Suddenly we were parking and walking up to the building’s entrance. As we were about to open the door, a mother and her young daughter opened the door and as they exited, the mother called for her daughter by name, “Royalty”... K.M and I looked at each other and without missing a beat, she recognized what had just happened. The Lord used that situation to affirm her, the planned name for her business, it was a pronouncement, a heralding of His child walking into the favor He had for her! We rejoiced at the wonderful moment and gave thanks to The Lord.
As the days quickly came and went, K.M. successfully completed the RAEA Program and continued living at the long term shelter, working at a commercial cleaning job while launching her personal residential cleaning business, Royal Heart Cleaning Services. She continues to attend church on Sunday, Bible Study on Wednesday, and volunteers with group projects with our partners. She encourages me with a daily scripture and devotional passage and continues to walk in New Life with her awesome mentor, Kathy Noonan. Another reason to celebrate, she recently was baptized and our partner ministry, ReNew Houston, furnished her apartment and transformed it into a beautiful dwelling place! What’s next for this amazing beautiful soul? She is recuperating her children and bringing them home!
She said to me the other day as we stood in her new place and soaked it all in, “I promise you, no one has a heart like you all (Rescue Houston)! I love you and I am thankful for all you have done! At the beginning of 2019, I was lost, homeless, without employment, without hope ...LOOK what the Lord has done!”
I reflect on her statements and thank God for choosing me to walk alongside my first Survivor! I have learned so much through her journey and she has changed my life in profound ways. To this day we remain in close contact and she will forever hold a special place in my heart.