HILLSBORO — A locally based outreach to those who have experienced, or are experiencing, domestic abuse is now in its third decade, but is suddenly seeing new doors open on a national and perhaps even global level.
“I’m so thankful for God’s faithfulness,” said Stacey Womack, founder and executive director of Abuse Recovery Ministry Services. “We have our running shoes on, trying to keep pace with what God is doing. It’s an exciting time for ARMS.”
A faith-based non-profit, ARMS has served more than 21,000 victims and survivors of domestic abuse since 1997, but is now expected to reach thousands more nationally through a new partnership with Colorado-based Citygate Network (formerly the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions).
In addition, Heartbeat International, an Ohio-based network comprising the vast majority of pregnancy resource ministries in 64 nations, is also asking for a similar partnership with ARMS.
ARMS holds healing programs for women who are experiencing domestic abuse and intervention programs for men and women who have used controlling or abusive behaviors. In some areas, ARMS also has a program for teens, to help them have healthy relationships.
For Womack, these new opportunities follow a time in which she stepped back a bit to ponder the long-range direction of the ministry.
“I began this work Oct. 1, 1997. Actually God had me start, and it just happened to land on Domestic Violence Awareness Day. After 20 years of success in bring healing to those who experience abuse and transformation for men and women who use abuse, I was exhausted and burned out.. We had just finished three of our most difficult years ever.”
Womack took a two-month sabbatical and sought not only business consulting, but also counseling for the personal trauma that can come with leading ministry.
Womack said her business consultant shared that statistics show organizations 20 years or older don’t change unless the CEO changes, and that the business model under which ARMS had been operating wasn’t sustainable.
“I knew God wasn’t calling me to step away, so I came back from my time of rest praying, ‘Lord change me and change ARMS,’ ’’she recalled.
That was a little more than a year ago. “In January 2018 God began to open doors,” Womack said. “I received a call from John Ashmen, CEO of Citygate Network, saying (that addressing) abuse was part of their mission statement but was the one area they weren’t doing well in. He asked us to partner with them nationally in training their people to lead our recovery program and possibly our intervention programs.”
Then within a week she got a similar call from Heartbeat International.
“At the end of March 2018 God told me, ‘You have nine months to prepare.’ It was as if preparing for a birth of new things.”
ARMS applied for a grant last fall but didn’t make it into the next round of reviews. “In faith, starting in January 2019 we began to move forward while we waited for the grant to be approved. We just received approval a few weeks ago.”
In the meantime, leaders and staff from Citygate member mission agencies began signing up for ARMS’ online training that launched in March.
“We filled two groups and had to close it even though they had enough to fill a third group. But we don’t want to just do this for them, we want to make this available to churches, individuals, and other organizations. We see God moving ARMS to a training, consulting and supportive organization for others.
“We have never sold our materials, written in English, Spanish, Russian, and Kiswahili. We felt it would be irresponsible to do this without training. The last thing we want to do is make it more dangerous for victims of abuse. Now we have a way to provide this training and expand our reach to thousands more. We have served over 22,000 women over the years. We expect to see our yearly numbers at least double in this first year.”
ARMS is holding a luncheon at Beaverton Foursquare Church, 13565 S.W. Walker Road, on Saturday, June 1. Theme is “The Power of Words.” Featured speaker is Poppy Smith, a local author who has ministered to women in 20 nations. The luncheon is free but donations are welcomed.
For more information, phone 503-846-9284 or go to abuserecovery.org