On Friday, September 15 we packed up and drove over 30 women to attend our annual 3-day retreat. RAHAB Retreat started over 15 years ago by our founder, Becky Moreland, and is one of our favorite times of the year. The sole purpose of this retreat is to spend three days pursuing Jesus with the women who receive services from our drop-in homes.
I had spent the weeks leading up to the Retreat hearing all the plans, prayers, and heart cries of the staff who would hold this event. Though it was just three normal days to the rest of the world, to the women at RAHAB, it was three days when heaven would collide with earth. It was the three days that staff and volunteers would set aside to see daughters of God encounter the only one who could make them whole: Jesus.
I walked into the large building where our Retreat was held, encountering the many familiar faces I knew from the drop-in homes. Joy filled my heart as I realized how ready the women were to worship and to be in fellowship with one another.
Kellie, our Akron drop-in coordinator, stepped up to the mic and asked the women how creating art had gone earlier that day. They eagerly responded with stories of how the project had impacted them. They shared how they painted teardrops with the emotions they carried from the difficult things they experienced in life.
Lila, our Akron drop-in program specialist, started to strum her guitar as though it was an extension of herself. The women’s voices joined together as one, singing out the words to the song. I couldn’t help but wonder if this is what heaven would feel like, many voices singing to the only One worthy of their song. As our voices quieted down, Alexis, our Stark County outreach coordinator, stepped up to speak and reminded us of all the gentleness that the Father leads with. She created space for us to be reminded of the deep and unwavering love that God has for us.
As the message finished Stephanie, our Akron drop-in volunteer coordinator, invited everyone in the room to be involved in foot washing. To my surprise, almost every woman in the room stood up ready to join in. The moments that followed could only be described as heaven on earth. Staff and volunteers placed the ashes, which were the burnt tears that the women had painted earlier that day, on the feet and hands of our friends. Each stroke of the towel cleansing their feet became a prophetic act of what was happening in the Spirit. Tears streamed down the women’s faces as they felt God washing away the pain of their past. I watched as truth filled their hearts, that nothing is too broken to be made whole. Staff and volunteers began to wash and pray over each other’s feet as well. It was truly incredible to experience!
The evening service was no different. We all danced and sang wildly, letting childlikeness fill our souls. We sang things like “hell lost another one, I am free” and the words became the testimony that the women sang out. As the words left their mouth, I watched as the God of all creation came close, rewriting their story. This moment was such a beautiful reminder that who the Son sets free is free indeed! What a gift it is to be truly free!
As the night came to an end, Kellie preached an incredible message on the gift of the gospel. She declared the truth that it is “for freedom’s sake that we have been set free”. Finally, the women danced over houses that they had painted their dreams on earlier that day.
Retreat was more than just an accumulation of fun, worship, and the Word, God did things that we may never fully know until we reach heaven’s side. Women were given the space to get outside of their everyday lives to believe again – believe that there could be more than what they have always known.
Many women came unsure of their salvation and left secure in the truth that they are daughters of God. Women came bound by many things, but they left free! Most importantly though, they left knowing that they are seen and loved by the One who created them and knows them by name!
Thank you to everyone who prayed and sowed into this Retreat! We know that we couldn’t do this without you! We are so excited to see the fruit from the seeds sown at the Retreat come to fruition in the lives of the women over the next several months. God is so faithful, and we know this is only the beginning of all that He has in store for them!
Written By: Hannah Howell