At training camp, I was picked to be the Beauty for Ashes Coordinator for my squad. It’s a movement devoted to empowering women to experience God’s restoration and hope through storytelling and community. This could be women on my squad, exploited women, or even women in ministry that we encounter.
A lot of women carry around ashes (guilt, shame, bitterness, hurt, etc.) without ever feeling loved, valued, or worthy. Jesus traded all of our ashes for beauty on the cross., but some never get to experience the hope, freedom, redemption, and restoration found in Jesus because they feel chained to their ashes.
Beauty for Ashes is a movement that encourages storytelling and community to bring hope and break chains.
When a group of us were evangelizing a couple weeks ago, we encountered a group of women who literally made charcoal for their everyday job. They would kindle a small fire then burn sticks over the fire until they turned to charcoal. After they accumulated a bunch of charcoal they sold them in large cloth sacks and that’s how they made money.
We decided to stop and ask how they were doing, then asked them if they knew Jesus and what they thought about the gospel. They said they knew Jesus but they had one very large flaw. They thought their sins were too great to be forgiven and that they had to wait till judgement day to answer to them.
It was as if Jesus and the sacrifice He made on the cross was completely forgotten.
I got to share with them that they didn’t have to wait till judgement day to have their sins forgiven. They could be forgiven in this moment, in 5 minutes or tomorrow. All they had to do was ask Jesus for that forgiveness.
I then went further to explain that Jesus takes the dark charcoal in their lives (sin) and burns it right then and there. And just like the charcoal they burn turns to ash or the charcoal they sell to others eventually turns to ash, that’s what Jesus does with our sins. It’s one and done. The slate is wiped clean and all that’s left is pure freedom and undeniable beauty because of what Jesus did for them on the cross.
I encouraged them that the job they do daily is an awesome reminder of what Christ did for us on the cross. Each time they burn a piece of charcoal or sell charcoal for someone else to burn is forever a reminder that their sin turns to ash and that they don’t have to wait for judgement day to be redeemed, but that they can be redeemed in that very moment through asking Jesus for forgiveness.
That goes for anyone who’s reading this as well. No sin is too great for God.
For those who are interested in learning more about Beauty for Ashes you can visit their websites at http://www.adventures.org/beautyforashes/, their Facebook page (beauty4ashes613), their Instagram (Beauty4Ashes61:3), or of course ask me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
“…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes…”