Bethesda News

Healing for Mothers

If you come for a tour of the Women’s Mission, you’ll get an up close view of the work God is doing through our ministry. You’ll get a firsthand look at our worn-out buildings. You’ll get to meet some of our wonderful staff, including Director Shelley Brooks. Most importantly though, you’ll get to hear from some of our women guests. We call our guests’ testimonies “stories of hope” because that’s what they are—narratives of the healing they’ve experienced and the hope they now have. 

One story of hope you might hear at the Women’s Mission is Denise’s story. She tells her story with skill and brave honesty. She has been through many hard experiences, but she has a sense of peace. She knows her identity is not her past. “I am a story of hope,” she says confidently.   

Denise came to the Women’s Mission in January 2019. She had periods of sobriety lasting up to five years and experiences with other recovery programs. It was a counselor at one of those other programs, a previous guest of Bethesda, who referred her to our program. 

Denise is a mother of three adult daughters. Many women who are mothers come to Bethesda with shame and guilt because of how they’ve acted towards their children. Some have had their children taken away by Children and Youth Services. Those with older children have strained or broken those relationships due to their addiction. “I think that’s unique to mothers in addiction even more than fathers because fathers can leave and mothers are left with the children,” Denise says.

After her last relapse, Denise says “I’ll never forget them saying ‘Mom, we can’t do this anymore. We don’t know how to help you.’”

Denise believes this is one of the best things that could have happened because she didn’t have anywhere else to go at that point. She needed help. It was this low point that was the beginning of Denise’s healing.

“Everybody backed away from me. They didn’t know who I became. I was this person who would steal to stay alive. I lived out of my car a lot of times. I lied to my daughters because I didn’t want them to know.”

She surrendered to God because she didn’t want to keep going, but He did something amazing. “God was so faithful,” she says. That’s what led her to Bethesda Women’s Mission. “Walking through these doors, they said ‘Denise, we understand what you’ve been through.’ This is a place of healing.”

Through her time at the Mission, Denise has learned that God works through people. “They love you until you love yourself,” she says. The volunteers who cook meals, bake cookies, and send words of encouragement all helped her to feel loved. She had searched for God in the past but was never able to find him—now she realizes He was always there.  

The Women’s Mission helps guests heal as mothers by healing themselves first. “I gave my kids to God so I could heal,” Denise says. 

Oftentimes, we see women have restored relationships with the children they thought they’d lost, and that’s Denise’s story. She writes letters to her daughters sending them pictures of their childhood and telling them stories, and they will call her when there’s something in their life they want to share with her. “Through this place, I’ve made great amends with my daughters,” she says. Her daughters no longer have to worry about where she is and what her condition is. Her being here has set them free from that burden. “I have a responsibility to stay clean,” she says. 

For Denise, what we offer at Bethesda—long term recovery—was key to her healing. It takes at least 12-18 months to fully recover and be ready to live a normal life again. Her body, mind, and spirit all needed to heal from her addiction.

If you haven’t heard yet, a renewal is underway for our Women’s Shelter site. We are building an 18,400 square feet, 4 story building that will allow us to shelter 51 women and their children. More information is available on our website. Denise is excited about the Renewal Project because it means more women will get to experience the hope and healing that she did. “It’s amazing the goodness that I’ve experienced here. I’ve been provided with clothing, food, and shelter. I haven’t had to worry about just trying to survive.” Because of this, her focus is on God and healing. 

If you come for a tour of the Women’s Mission, Denise hopes you’ll see what God has done through our staff and volunteers for herself and her fellow guests. If you’re inspired by this story of hope and want to come see one of our facilities firsthand, click on Request a Tour. Someone from our team will be in touch with you to schedule.

By donating to Bethesda Mission, you’re participating in the work that God is doing through the Women’s Mission and our other areas of ministry. By donating, you’re inspiring hope in mothers in need of healing.

We need your help. Will you continue your financial partnership with Bethesda Mission today?

As we celebrate and honor mothers this Mother’s Day, may we know that our gifts can provide encouragement and hope for so many like Denise whose lives can be transformed by the love of Jesus and in turn restore relationships with their children.     

In Him,

Scott Dunwoody
Executive Director

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.   Zephaniah 3:17 

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