Many people have described me as a bottom line person. As the Executive Director, one of the hardest parts of my job is defining the success of the ministry. Is it babies saved? Is it decisions to follow Jesus Christ? Is it number of residents ministered to? Is it the number of residents who remain until the end of their pregnancy? Of course, all of these are great indicators of success but stories like the following about just one resident throws a wrench in my “bottom-line-ness.” Sidney* had already experienced too many struggles in her first 19 years of life. Her mother had sent Sidney back and forth between relatives here in the states and in Africa most of her life. At 17, Sidney was kicked out by her mother and moved in with a friend, Sally*, and her family. When Sally’s mother found out Sidney was pregnant, she gave her a proposition: leave the house or have an abortion. For Sidney, although this is not how she wanted her life to be, being pregnant was a blessing because she was told that she would never have any children due to a botched female circumcision that had occurred during her time in Africa.
Sidney thought on this for almost two months before returning to Sally’s mother with the decision to give her baby life. Sally’s mother found LifeHouse on the internet and brought Sidney for her interview. Sidney with her bubbly personality was a natural leader around LifeHouse. She had grown up eating fast food and using paper plates, so she did not know how to cook, wash dishes, or even how to use a dishwasher. By the time she left, she had a notebook full of recipes she enjoyed cooking. It had become fun to her! Her confidence began to grow.
Another area where Sidney grew in her confidence was in completing goals. She came to us feeling as if she had never finished a single thing that she had started. She had failed her senior year by just two credits so we enrolled her at Tegeler Career Center and learned she could complete her high school degree in just a couple of months. Sidney set high goals for herself and worked hard and completed her classes in under two months. She was excited to receive her high school diploma and see that she can finish things that she starts.
Lastly, but most importantly, Sidney accepted Christ while here at LifeHouse. During devotions at night, Sidney listened intently to every word the houseparents said and asked many questions later. One night, she decided to follow Christ and was baptized after church by one of her housedads.
Although Sidney left the LifeHouse before the end of her pregnancy, she was a completely different woman than when she stepped through those doors. She left on good terms and with dreams that she never thought could be possible before.
I may not be able to quantify in a neat little formula the “success” of Sidney but I do know that Sidney is just one of many lives that have been significantly impacted by LifeHouse. What a joy to be a part of a ministry were we are able to have not only eternal influence on women’s lives but we are affecting their day to day lives. May we all continue to find this type of “success.”
*Name changed for confidentiality.