Beauty for Ashes makes impact

By Keia Blair

Upon coming to Zimbabwe, my team and I discussed our hopes and dreams of hosting our very own Beauty for Ashes retreat for women.

We were determined to make this happen, and with the help of the people at Youth for Christ, we were planning quicker than we expected.

Beauty for Ashes is a women’s program that focuses on worth, value, healing, forgiveness and community. It exists to bring God’s restoration, hope and healing to suffering and victimized women through breaking from the chains of bondage. We create a safe place to be real with ourselves, a place for vulnerability and a place for women to fully understand that their story matters.

We prepared this retreat for some time, praying, throwing around ideas, discussing what we thought would work and what wouldn’t work, making posters, advertising, buying supplies, etc.

The reality of it was that this was going to be a lot of work for us to do, and it was going to take a lot of effort in a week that was already packed each day from morning until dinner. We were stressed, we were super-busy, but the moment we let the Lord take over was when everything changed for us.

It was finally the day of the retreat, and I was nervous. We weren’t sure how many girls were coming, but we knew the Lord has his hand in all of it. He knew who was coming, and that’s all that mattered. My team joined hands and prayed to our Father for the retreat that day.

Women started showing up, and quickly, we had nearly 20 ladies. And wow, wow, wow was it one of the sweetest days. I don’t know if I will be able to properly explain the work that the Lord did that day in the women who attended our retreat, but I am going to attempt to.

To start, we worshipped the Lord. The spirit of the Lord was so evident, and his presence was sweet. We played games to get to know one another. We did drawings of how we viewed the Lord, moments that caused us pain and moments that we need healing in.

We wrote down the places in our lives that we need to give forgiveness. We shared testimonies, pain, heartbreaks and struggles. We talked about life and the healing that we need. We shared Bible stories and teachings.

There were tears, lots of them. Emotional pain was worked through, and healings were started. We wrote our pain and the places we need healing and forgiveness, and we laid them down at the foot of the cross. Girls were vulnerable. Girls were open. They asked questions, hard questions, the type of questions that can only be answered if you allow the Lord to speak through you.

At the end, we washed the feet of the ladies. We shared the story of Jesus washing the feet of others, and we thanked them for spending the day with us and for allowing us to serve them. As we washed their feet and prayed over them, the Lord spoke to me. He said, “You needed today just as much as these women needed today.” And yes, he was so right.

The amount of pain and heartache that was worked through, talked through and cried through was incredible. The Lord started to do work in hearts that had pushed pain and emotions so far down. The Lord redeemed hearts of these women. Several women came up to me and thanked me over and over because of how refreshed they felt, how new they felt and how special this day was to them.

Working with women is one of my passions, but working with women in Zimbabwe is a whole new passion for me. I felt so appreciated by these women. They were so thankful for our program and for the work that the Lord did in them and through them.

All I can say is thank you, Jesus. Thank you for the work that you did in these women. Thank you for the work that you are continuing to do in these women. Thank you for the hearts that you are mending back together. Thank you for the forgiveness that you gave these girls. Thank you for the breaking of chains that happened in the lives of these women. Thank you for freedom from bondage. Thank you for your forgiveness, your mercy, your grace, our value and worth and your love for us.

And thank you, Jesus, for this sweet day with your beloved ladies, queens of the King.

Keia Blair is a Seymour native who attends Cincinnati Christian University. During her nine-month mission trip around the world, she is submitting a series of blogs that will appear in The Tribune. Send comments to [email protected].

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