FEATURE — Women We Love

By on May 1, 2019

By Katie Eubanks

 

Women we love

These ladies are living out the gospel in ways that can inspire us all.

Dr. Deborah Davis (far left), W.M.U. president at New Hope Baptist Church, and women of New Hope and First Baptist Jackson got together recently to pair up with prayer partners and seek God’s will for a joint ministry. They posed with gardening gloves as a symbol of the spiritual seeds they’ll plant in Jackson.

The women of New Hope Baptist Church
and First Baptist Church of Jackson

 

At a recent gathering at First Baptist Jackson, around 60 women greeted each other like long-lost friends — but many were meeting for the first time.

 

The W.M.U. (Women’s Missionary Union) ministries of First Baptist and New Hope Baptist Church are partnering to pray for each other and for Jackson, and to see what God leads them to do next. Sounds simple— but such beginnings often precede something grand.

 

In April, New Hope held a simulcast of a talk by renowned women’s Bible teacher Priscilla Shirer — and Dr. Deborah Davis, New Hope’s W.M.U. president, found out First Baptist was hosting Shirer herself on May 20.

 

“(I thought), maybe we can mix it up and just support each other (through these events),” Davis said.

 

She called First Baptist’s women’s minister, Cindy Townsend, and they put their heads together.

 

“It really came from us listening to the Lord say, ‘Get together to do something,” Townsend said.

 

First Baptist held a welcoming reception for the women of New Hope, and everybody paired up with a prayer partner from the other church. The women agreed to pray for each other at 1 p.m. daily.

 

The New Hope ladies plan to attend the Shirer event at First Baptist. After that, Davis and Townsend trust God to lead the way.

 

“Our biggest common interest is our love for the Lord and wanting to do things in the community to support our community and lead others in the community to the Lord,” Davis said

 

One thing’s for sure: She and Townsend are more than just ministry partners now.

 

“She and I talk every other day. We’re just not strangers. We were not strangers the first day we met,” Davis said, laughing. “It was just an immediate sisterhood.

 

“I just know it was the good Lord that put us together.”

 

Vicki DeMoney (right) greets Kimberly Hertz upon her parole release from the Mississippi Department of Corrections in February 2017. Photo by Melanie Thortis.

Vicki DeMoney and the women
of Crossroads Ministries

 

Like the Mississippi Offender Reentry Experience (M.O.R.E.) featured in last month’s MCL, Crossroads Ministries provides housing for Mississippi inmates who have nowhere to go when paroled. In this case, female inmates.

 

And like M.O.R.E., Crossroads Executive Director Vicki DeMoney aims not only to provide a place to stay, but to help women transition to a productive and spiritually fulfilling life.

Marybeth Gannon sings during worship time at Crossroads Ministries in Canton. Photo by Melanie Thortis.

 

Now in its 11th year, Crossroads has a primary care home with 15 beds in Madison, and an after-care home with 10 beds in Canton. The vast majority of participants have some sort of addiction.

 

Women stay in primary care for three to four months, with no cell phones, no internet, and family visits limited to once a month. The ladies attend recovery and life skills classes but only work one day a week, at the Crossroads thrift store in Canton.

 

“This gives them a chance to rest, and gives us a chance to recapture their heart. We are a faith-based organization,” DeMoney said.

 

After-care is for women who’ve completed primary care and still have nowhere to go. They get their phones and internet back, and Crossroads provides transportation to a few local jobs. If a woman has been with Crossroads a total of six months and has a job, she starts paying rent.

 

Crossroads has a recidivism (return to prison) rate of about 15 percent, DeMoney said. In 2016 the Clarion-Ledger reported the state’s recidivism rate as more than twice that.

 

At the Crossroads, houses, “we laugh, we cry and we find joy where we are,” DeMoney said. The ladies have fun together, “fuss at each other” and ultimately support each other.

 

“We had a girl have a meltdown yesterday, and I said, ‘You’ve got to have a breakdown to have a breakthrough.’”

 

Lacy Deese, a counselor at Crossroads Counseling, lives in Clinton with her husband, Kaleb, and their children Finley, 6; Silas, 5; and Wilder, 2.

Lacy Deese

 

My last editor’s letter mentioned my therapist, who helped me climb out of a mental and spiritual hole five years ago.

 

Lacy makes me feel welcome, heard, and — dare I say it — normal. She doesn’t act like any of my “issues” are weird, and she gives me more grace than I give myself.

 

Lacy has worked at Crossroads Counseling for 10 years (no relation to Crossroads Ministries) and loves helping folks with everything from depression and anxiety to premarital counseling, OCD and anger.

 

I could tell you more about Lacy, her husband and their children, but instead I’ll share something straight from her. It’s a poem she wrote several months ago that’s perfect for our Women’s Issue.

 

‘What if we all stopped sucking in?’

What if we all stopped sucking in?
What if we reset the rules
And began again?
And this time the real winners who really win
Are the ones who let it out instead of holding it in.

What if we quit trying to measure up
With a stick that is broken
And a mis-numbered cup?
Instead we’d be free from rules that corrupt.
Do we dare to let go? You know, it’s not giving up.

Because if “giving up” were instead called surrender
And our hearts that have been made hard could be tender
To our own outcry for rest — then our restoration sender
Would meet us right there —
If we’d just remember

That too much and too little look a lot alike
And we’re trying way too hard the wrong way to get it all right.
What if, when we laid our weary heads down at night,
We could breathe in the whisper, we are truly precious in His sight?

Then when I see her, I don’t compare me to that.
I step into my own shoes and wear all my own hats
And I won’t feel too out-of-style or too goofy or too fat
‘Cause I’ve wiped my feet on a welcome mat

And I’ve come on in to a place where I’m free
And I really see you and you really see me
And right here is the place where we can just breathe.
Now let down your hair, come on in. And just be.