Mission Messiah helps troubled
young mothers turn their lives around.
Relying on private donations, this faith-based program
has been performing its own type of miracles for the last 15 years.
Drugs, alcohol, abusive relationships, crime … poor choices can destroy lives and often lead to jail or life on the streets. When young mothers find themselves in these predicaments, the thought of being separated from their children while they re-build their lives can be heart-wrenching. The staff of Mission Messiah (www.missionmessiah.org) want these women to know that there is an alternative. Mission Messiah, a non-profit, faith-based residency program for women and their children that has been helping to transform lives since 1997.
It is one of the few rehabilitation programs to accept children with their mothers. “We find that there is more healing when moms and their children work through the program together,” explains Jamie Berryhill, founder of Mission Messiah. “Our graduates have a phenomenal 80-plus percent success rate, which is very significant when compared to the secular program success rate of three to five percent. They stay off of drugs and government assistance, and become contributing members of society.”
Based in Odessa, Texas, the program provides housing and recovery programs, life skills, leadership training and jobs for women serious about reclaiming their lives. “Mission Messiah offers a 12-month program including housing, food, clothing, utilities, counseling, work training and a future.”
Operating entirely without government funding, and relying instead on corporate or private donations, Mission Messiah has prepared hundreds of women for re-entry into society as solid citizens. From acquiring basic job skills to help with getting their driver’s licenses and saving for deposits on housing and utilities, graduates are set up for success.
About 40 percent of the women coming to Mission Messiah are court-ordered. The remaining are generally referred by churches and other programs. Typically there are 15-20 women, and a similar number of children, in the program at one time. “So many people are hurting, and we have a message of hope,” says Berryhill. “There is a way to repair the damage, for lives to be restored, health regained and relationships rebuilt.
Mission Messiah's main campus was transformed from a 60 unit motel that once housed drug dealers and prostitutes into a city of refuge and renewal, centered on faith and tough love. Through the application of solid Bible teaching, scripture memorization, and constant attention by staff and volunteers, hundreds of lives have been changed and made new. With the need so great across the U.S., Berryhill believes that Mission Messiah’s formula for rebuilding lives can and should be replicated.
Its elements include:
1. Commitment. The women must commit to and have a sincere desire for change and be willing to relinquish the use of any alcohol, psychotropic medications, illegal drugs and nicotine before arriving at the center. “Many of these ladies have numbed themselves with drugs and alcohol for years. Our commitment is to unmask the root issues, rather than dealing with symptoms.”
2. A disciplined, structured approach. The women are required to complete four phases during their time at the mission which include Iron, Bronze, Silver and Gold. Each of these phases has specific curricula and labs that teach to the heart, reveal the heart and track progress of each lady. “Typically there has been very little discipline in the lives of the majority of these women. We begin to build a foundation of scriptural teaching so that they see themselves--often for the first time--as spiritual beings. We also teach them that they are responsible for their current status. Even if there has been abuse or neglect, they have a decision to make. Do they want to persist in their bondage and misery or do they want to truly find a life of abundance?”
3. Job training. The women receive job training as they perform tasks at the facilities such as child care, lawn care, cooking classes and by working in one of the two job training businesses operated by Mission Messiah. ZIP Supply is a full-service print and copy shop, and WOW (wowfashionwarehouse.com), a retail store featuring home fashions, jewelry, purses and art.
“Many of these women have little education or job skills. Some have been doctors, nurses or other professions but have lost their license. Many had criminal records and had trouble making ends meet after they finished the program. To keep them from falling back into the traps that traumatized their lives, we want to give them marketable tools that they can take back to their communities,” says Zip Supply manager and Mission graduate, Shannon Organ. “We teach them that they have to show up, come in with a good attitude, work hard, and learn and grow in their job skills.
“ZIP and WOW also give the ladies in the program a venue in which to share their transformation with the more secular market. It builds these women up to actively share the positive things that are happening in their lives.” Several of the program’s graduates have stayed on at the stores, serving as role models and bringing encouragement to the others.
Adds Berryhill, “These women are coming to us from extreme situations. Their greatest common thread is a lack of love in their lives. As hard as some of them are, when you begin to love and encourage them, and to share with them in ways they have never experienced, it’s amazing how great their transformation is.”
To apply for residency, or to donate to Mission Messiah, visit www.missionmessiah.org.