One hymn that has stuck with me from my Baptist childhood is “Rescue the Perishing.” I wasn’t sure what the word “perishing” meant, but since the song went on to say, “care for the dying,” I figured it couldn’t possibly be good. My seven-year-old self sang this song at the top of my lungs without thinking about whether I knew anyone who was perishing and if so, whether I was responsible to “snatch them in pity from sin and the grave.” Everyone around me seemed just fine, except maybe that one little boy at school named Mike whose clothes were always too big and slightly dirty and who rarely had enough money for more than a bowl of soup for lunch. My life in the suburbs was so sheltered that I had no clue about the people in Memphis who lived near the brink of despair and death.
It wasn’t until I was much older that I came to realize how many girls of the girls I knew who looked perfectly fine were anything but fine. Some had fathers who beat them and mothers who were too distant to care. Some had relatives or family friends who sexually abused them and warned them not to tell a soul. Some became addicted to drugs when they fell under the spell of “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” Some who were aching for love they didn’t get from their parents became sexually active at a young age, got pregnant, and were turned out on the streets. Some hastily married the person they thought was their prince, only to find that he was really a toad. And possibly the worst, some girls were abused in the name of God under the auspices of the church. Girls and women around me were perishing then, and sadly, they are still perishing now.
Each woman who comes to Lisieux has been through a variety of painful experiences that led her into the hell of addiction and prostitution. The path back to health and freedom is painful as well, because it requires shedding old patterns of behavior, learning to trust, and developing new skills for coping with life’s ups and downs. Such a path cannot be walked alone. The residents of Lisieux receive the tender loving care of a supportive team of volunteers, as well as a variety of professional services and programs to assist them in their recovery. But for lasting change to be achieved, that care must be coordinated by a licensed social worker who is able to spend enough time with each resident to get to know her specific needs.
Will you help us raise the funds to pay a full-time social worker to serve as our Clinical Director?
Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness,
Chords that are broken will vibrate once more.
Lyrics by Frances J. Crosby, 1869