The Lovelady Center is a center for women who are rehabilitating, who have just been released from prison, women who are homeless, and various other stories. This facility was one that was filled with warmth and love, and seems like the perfect place for women to get back on their feet, and put their broken lives back together again. Women come here for 6 to 12 months, with the idea in mind that they will be back into the real world after this time, and be functioning properly.
When we arrived on the first night, we were greeted at the airport by Michelle Gewin, and her wonderful husband Jim. They were so warm, and so excited to show us the Lovelady Center, and for us to start the conference! We could tell how much they care for the women there.
We got a tour of the Lovelady Center, which is an old hospital in Birmingham, Alabama. This building, which was built to hold about 300 people, is now bursting at the seams with over 400 women, and 150 children. We were pleased to hear that the Lovelady Center has recently just purchased another hospital that is out of business, and they will move there as soon as it is renovated. This building is larger, and can hold up to 1000 or more! What a gift of God for them! He always provides.
The next day, we started our conference and it was evident that the crowd that we were speaking to understood trauma, abandonment, sexual abuse, drug addiction, and emotional abuse very clearly. They were such sweet and tender women, but you could tell that before being at the Lovelady Center, they weren’t always so sweet and tender. If we were lucky enough to hear a story from a woman, it was generally a story that brought our hearts to our knees. We concluded that they are some of the strongest people we have ever met.
As the conference continued, our friendships with these women grew stronger. The conference concluded on a Wednesday night, where Darla was asked to speak at their church service at the Lovelady Center, where the women attended, and others from the community were invited to. There, Darla shared her full testimony, and there was not a dry eye in the house. The way these women related to Darla was powerful, and God really used her words to ordain their lives. What an amazing thing to witness.
After the conference, we were all very excited about hopefully returning again in the future to reunite with these women once again. We are excited about what God is doing at the Lovelady Center, and how these women’s lives are changing. Once again, we left thinking we would change some lives, but came home having our lives changed more.