Every year, Grace Community Church in Noblesville, Indiana shuts its doors, cancels its services and sends its congregation out to do service projects all over the city.  This year, World Next Door sent a team of volunteer journalists from Grace’s congregation to tell some of the stories from the weekend.

This is one of those stories.

To read all of the Weekend of Service articles, click here.

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Third Phase: Mind, Body and Soul

Written by Cyndi Simmons

Photos by Jack Jones

On a crisp autumn day with leaves dancing in the trees, tantilizing the eye in royal golds, earthy greens, and mocha browns, over 200 men, women, and children from Grace Community Church converged upon Third Phase in Nobelsville, for a day of worship in service.

Third Phase was birthed over 25 years ago as an organization meeting vital and necessary needs for women in crisis. Managed through on-site living and leadership by the two women who founded this ministry, it opens its arms to hurting people who come through the doors in homeless or abuse crisis, and at times, with a last chance to change.

Set on 10 acres is a 33-room historical home held in God’s palm; Third Phase provides not only “a cup of cold water,” in the form of a food pantry for community access; a resale shop for community needs; but under its roof is a ‘family’ that is flowing in love to fill up those in hurting need, directional pointing, and support in their lives. Third Phase operates a long term rehabilitation program for women who are victims of abuse or neglect and a short term emergency shelter for needy men or women. Over 5000 women have graduated from the program and 80% are now living productive lives. Third Phase, named for the core of its mission: mind, body, and soul.

Some teams were assigned to do landscape work to make this place of refuge, this place that clothes, feeds, shelters, and cares for others even more appealing.

Some teams were assigned to do landscape work to make this place of refuge, this place that clothes, feeds, shelters, and cares for others even more appealing.

Given the magnitude of undertaking in its mission, the need for helping hands, is great. Likely not many realized when the sun arose on this October Saturday of Grace Community Church’s Weekend of Service, the shelves in the Third Phase food pantry, called upon every day by 40 to 50 families in need of food, were, in essence, bare. As the day came to a close, and where the accomplishments were many, the shelves were filled to the brim for the hungry who will arrive and where needs will be met. This is but one act of worship, by the people of Grace Community Church, in lifting its hands to the Almighty God it loves.

The tasks were burdensome, from deep cleaning a resale store, and what amounted to removing every single item in a large pole barn, cleaning down to the bare floor, sorting items, and restocking in an organized plan; onto raking the grounds, chopping necessary wood for depended upon heat in the winter; through to repairs to the roof, attending to a pond needing dredging and clean up; and included trade gifts of service in the ministry’s newest addition, a “transition” home for women who have completed the Third Phase year-long rehabilitation program.

Surrounded by refrigerators, freezers, and boxes in desperate need of cleaning, defrosting, and organization - a job that is tedious and backbreaking - we still find smiles of joy, not for the camera, but for those that will benefit from the labor.

Surrounded by refrigerators, freezers, and boxes in desperate need of cleaning, defrosting, and organization - a job that is tedious and backbreaking - we still find smiles of joy, not for the camera, but for those that will benefit from the labor.

Tucked inside, while this day of worship was unfolding on the grounds of Third Phase, is Stephanie, a woman who resides amongst 15 other women dedicated to changing their lives. The long term rehabilitation program is designed so as not to tempt these women with canyons of substance abuse they have fallen into prior to their arrival. As such, during this year stay, instead of going to work off the grounds, work is done in the community of Third Phase. There are chores, including kitchen duties, laundry, house cleaning, attending to a food producing garden, and serving the community through the food pantry and resale shop. There is no television other than group-time movies and music is specifically chosen to nourish and heal these hurting souls. Bible study is foundational to daily lives and church is attended in family style – everyone goes.

Cyndi.

Stephanie.

Stephanie arrived two years ago and came through the doors of Third Phase addicted to crack cocaine. A woman in her late 40’s, whose life has been filled with heartache, began with losing a child to sudden infant death syndrome as a young married new mother. Despair thrust her and her husband into a difficult relationship, although in time, they were blessed with a soon-to-arrive baby. However, 6-months into her pregnancy, Stephanie was informed that she had a grave sexually transmitted disease, compromising her womb (although she had been faithful in her marriage). In time, she delivered a premature baby, bringing about unfolding and mounting life stresses.  Added to that, she discovered that her husband had fallen prey to drugs and crime. Stephanie became a woman struggling alone through life’s pressures with a young child and a husband in prison.

Many who find shelter at Third Phase find time for reflection and renewal sitting by the pond that is on the grounds.  Clearing away the overgrowth makes this feature an even greater comfort to those who seek comfort.

Many who find shelter at Third Phase find time for reflection and renewal sitting by the pond that is on the grounds. Clearing away the overgrowth makes this feature an even greater comfort to those who seek comfort.

Many years later, Stephanie, hurting, lost, and damaged, stepped through the door of wanting to numb her pain, and found herself addicted to crack cocaine. In time, in a sister’s love for her, she was brought to Third Phase. A year in its program equipped her with sobriety and sure-footedness to step out into the world and continue life’s journey.

However, her story doesn’t end there.

In response to a broken heart in a relationship, and in a repeating pattern of falling prey to numbing pain that was difficult, she stepped, once again, through the door to crack cocaine. Following a binge, penniless, and in despair, she called her “family,” at Third Phase, and crying, remorseful, and needing help, she asked, “May I come back again? I didn’t get it right the first time.”

In a program run on love and rules, the answer with arms open wide was “Yes.” Stephanie, however, was miles from Third Phase, her tank was on empty, and she had no money.

Quite a large number were involved in helping to clean, sort, and organize the virtually empty shelves of the food pantry.  Although, by the end of the day, the shelves were nearly full thanks to friends, neighbors, and strangers who opened their own cabinets and contributed to the needs of others.

Quite a large number were involved in helping to clean, sort, and organize the virtually empty shelves of the food pantry. Although, by the end of the day, the shelves were nearly full thanks to friends, neighbors, and strangers who opened their own cabinets and contributed to the needs of others.

She prayed, “Please Lord get me there.”

Stephanie arrived at Third Phase that night and the next time she went to start her car, it wouldn’t start; there was no gas.

On this Weekend of Service Saturday, as 200 volunteers were working diligently on the grounds of Third Phase, Stephanie, in completing a second year’s program, is preparing to be the first woman to live in the new “transition” house; a house designed to provide a leg-up in working off the grounds, while learning to immerse oneself into the world, step full of God’s filling, and not fall to tempting lures of deceit in drugs and alcohol.

Stephanie, however, as she is preparing to move across the lane into what is a beautiful brand new home, complete with large picture windows overlooking the woods and lake, a laundry room, and hardwood floors, is also preparing to come on board as a staff member of Third Phase.

Stephanie now has a hope for the future.

Stephanie now has a hope for the future.

With a love for cooking, and what she was taught by her mother and grandmother, Stephanie is joining the staff as the Third Phase Cook.  She will lift her hands in worship to the One who has loved on her, through the ones that have shared His love with her, and nourish the ones that will cross through the doors of Third Phase, desperate, needy, hurting, and arriving into the open arms of love and restoration.

Setting aside a Saturday and in the enormous tasks that were accomplished, was a gift the people of Grace Community Church poured upon Third Phase; and in its acts of worship before the throne on October 17, 2009 in its Weekend of Service, it was, in simplicity, a raising of hands with a resounding cry, “We love you Lord.”

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Next Steps
    • Third Phase has continual needs for food, clothing, household items, cleaning supplies, over the counter medications, and office supply donations; trade gifting in repairs, volunteering of time, and of course, in meeting monetary needs. Head over to their website to learn more!
    Next Steps

About the Author: Every year, Grace Community Church in Noblesville, Indiana shuts its doors, cancels its services and sends its congregation out to do service projects all over the city. This team of volunteer journalists from Grace’s congregation told some of the stories from the weekend.

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