Updated: Mar 3, 2020
Dreaming is a risky business. Many of us have learned to shut down dreams before they can lead to disappointment in our lives. While this is true for many of us, it is especially true for someone who has gone through trauma. There’s too much disappointment that it’s not worth the risk. At Wings of Refuge, we’re all about embracing the process of restoration because it leads to the freedom to dream again, or, dream for the first time.
Since the conception of Wings of Refuge, there has been a dream to provide an opportunity for women to work while they go through the program. For years, this dream was put on the back burner because the timing hasn’t been right. However, over the last couple of years, the Lord has been leading Wings of Refuge to start a social enterprise. The decision to do this was led by a survivor in our home that began making bracelets to raise money for a therapy dog. That dog was her dream. After successfully earning enough money to buy that beautiful dog, she saw the potential for her bracelets to make an impact in the lives of the women who go through the Wings of Refuge program. Helping other women became her new dream. She began to share her dream about a social enterprise for the women at Wings of Refuge and learned that she wasn’t the only one with this dream. Meetings were held, dreams were shared, and ideas were pursued.
Shortly after these initial meetings, I was hired at Wings of Refuge. Prior to working here, I was a missionary in Asia whose heart had begun to feel called to the marketplace. I had recently stepped down from my role in the missions organization that I worked for to pursue work in the world of business. My dream was to start a business that makes a difference. I had no clue what I was getting into when I came back to America. I didn’t even have the next step. I just said yes to the Lord’s leadership to step out in faith. Shortly after moving back I was working at Wings of Refuge. It was amazing to witness the Lord’s leadership in this transition; the dreams in my heart had beautifully collided with the dreams of everyone at Wings of Refuge to start a business for women to experience hope through employment in the marketplace.
Sometimes life gives you an opportunity that feels like a coincidence and other times, the opportunities that fall into your lap are so clearly God’s dream that to do anything but accept it with joy is out of the question. Starting One More by Wings of Refuge was one of those God-dreams.
Now I have the privilege of working with the women at One More, the Wings of Refuge social enterprise. For five hours each week, the women are able to work in a trauma-informed environment pouring soy candles and creating hand-crafted bracelets together. The beauty of having a social enterprise at Wings of Refuge is that the women are able to continue prioritizing their healing and restoration while also being able to work and earn money as they go through the program.
I love having the women in the shop for those five hours each week. We talk, laugh, celebrate each other, and work through things that trigger anxiety together. Sometimes a woman in our home struggles to pour candles. Other times she struggles to make bracelets. In each of these scenarios, I love getting to walk alongside each individual as she processes the good, the bad, and the difficult.
One of my favorite parts of being with these women as they create beautiful products is that I get to speak life and identity into them. I get to encourage them to believe in themselves and to dream the dreams of God’s heart for them. There are so many stories I could share and one, in particular, stands out to me.
One woman that was in our home has an eye for beauty. She is an artist in every sense of the word. She specifically loves to paint, take photos, and create jewelry. We encouraged her in her giftings and gave her opportunities to grow. One day she shared with our team that growing up she’d never had anyone keep the things she’d made. If she brought something home from school, it was thrown in the trash. She’d never learned that what she created had value. When she came to Wings of Refuge and worked with One More, she was amazed that not only were people valuing the bracelets and candles that she had made, but they wanted to buy them! She learned so much about her worth through the opportunities she had here and most of all, she began to believe that she herself was valuable.
Though this woman is no longer in our home, the time she spent with us changed the narrative of her life because she learned that she is valuable and she learned how to dream. When we dream God’s dreams, He leads us in unimaginably beautiful ways and we end up right where we’re supposed to be. This is true whether you’re a survivor that’s coming out of sex trafficking, a missionary coming home, a father who wants to do something to create a safer world for his daughters, or a mother just looking to change the narrative for one more girl.
So, what are your dreams? How do your dreams intersect with God’s dreams for restoration? This month we invite you to spend some time dreaming with God. Write down your thoughts and share them with us on Facebook, Instagram, or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to celebrate your dreams with you and see how your dreams are intersecting with God’s dreams!
Whitney Summerhays, Life Coach - Social Enterprise