Beauty From Ashes Videos


Friday, March 9, 2012

God's Communication Through Nature: Beauty From Ashes' Staff Retreat

Discovering this idyllic place, we find ourselves filled with a  yearning to linger here, 
where time stands still and beauty overwhelms.

This past week, I found myself in a faraway place memorized of its beauty and peaceful bliss. It’s as if time stopped the single moment I entered nature’s presence at The Spirit of Suwannee Music Park. This was officially my first camping trip and I was truly blessed to go with the staff of Beauty From Ashes Ministries on their first retreat. I found myself closer to God over the four day weekend, and whoever would have thought God would speak to me through nature.

I remember the second day I spoke with founder, Julie Shematz, and I asked her how I could hear God’s voice more clearly. She explained that God is always speaking to us, the question is, whether or not we are paying attention and listening. She told me that He even communicates to us through nature. As we spoke more on this subject, it penetrated my heart. I began to have a different experience about the retreat. I was able to clear my head from the world’s distractions and focus on God and the beauty He created around me.

I recall the afternoon I spent on the Suwannee River beach, I took my bible and journal with me and God began to speak to me. I heard nothing but the wind and the deep brown water of the river. I sat in the sand and felt the smoothness of it against my skin and I became at peace. My mind was clear and God spoke to me through nature. The water represented Psalms 23:2 “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,”. God led me to quiet waters and through the quiet waters He showed me that He was in control of my life because He is peace maker. He is my maker, so automatically I’m entitled to peace.

Not only was that the only thing I learned, but He gave me beauty for ashes. When I sat around the evening camp fire with Julie, Christa Hicks (BFA Program Manager), Marisa (Christa's daughter), and Karen Zeigler (Life Coach, Author, & Inspirational Speaker . . . also the horses and camper owner), God showed me how I represented the ashes being burnt and how through the ashes came this beautiful fire that was burning bright. That’s what God has done for me personally. He gave me beauty for the ashes my life once was.

I learned over the weekend, from being with the beautiful strong women of God I was surrounded by, that it’s not about outward beauty, but it’s a heart that loves God. Not one of us wore make up or jewelry, we were all comfortable in our own skin naturally and I saw the beauty in authenticity.  I could see the beauty in our hearts, which showed what beauty really is.

The bible says in Proverbs 31:30 “Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.” I understood right then and there that “Beauty From Ashes” isn’t just a title but it’s the Word and its truth. These beautiful women of God aren’t seen because of their outward appearance, but because of the fear of the Lord, the love of the Lord. That is to be praised, that is beauty and that is why God gave them all beauty for ashes.

God gave me the same thing. He showed me why He called me to this organization at this point in my life. He is building me into a strong, bold, woman of God. He has placed this organization and the women of God from Beauty From Ashes to train me and help mold me. I became more grateful and learned how much God really loves me and how He is forming me into a stronger woman of God. He gave me three examples over the weekend and I was truly encouraged and blessed from the whole experience.

We were truly blessed by Michelle's presence at our first staff retreat. She overcame many fears and experienced a lot of firsts, of which I think I can safely say on behalf of the rest of us, was a blessing to experience with her. It was the first time she pet a horse, rode a horse, wore cowgirl boots and a cowboy hat, built and sat around a campfire, went camping, rode in the back end of a pick up truck, and drank out of red solo cups.  :+)  We love you, Michelle.  Thanks for allowing your faith to override your fears.  The memories of our retreat with you will be remembered for a lifetime. - Julie Shematz 

Michelle Morton is a senior at Florida Gulf Coast University and an intern with Beauty From Ashes. Her major is Communication with two minors in Journalism and Intro Disciplinary Studies. She was born in Tampa, Florida and now resides in Fort Myers, Florida. In her spare time she performs spoken work and writes for the campus newspaper, Eagle News.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Human Trafficking 101 at Cypress Lake United Methodist Church

 On February 21, 2012 I attended an event for Beauty From Ashes (BFA) at Cypress Lake United Methodist Church in Fort Myers. This was the first time I met Julie Shematz, founder of Beauty From Ashes, and heard her share her testimony as well as present on the works of BFA. It was great to see so many people in our community concerned and passionate to help BFA’s cause.
 In 2010 the department of Justice said the average age for a girl or boy to be sex trafficked is 13 years old. I have cousins who are 13 years old and I could never imagine their innocence violently given to a world of such darkness. BFA believes in intervention, prevention and restoration. These women and men should not be treated as criminals but as victims. These women and men need more than just to be saved from sex trafficking. They need a safe home, counseling and a very strong support system. Beauty From Ashes gives them the help they need and they need your help to do this. BFA is the only survivor-led sex trafficking organization in Southwest Florida. With your help Beauty From Ashes can assist more victims to become overcomers.
Beauty From Ashes is a Christian based nonprofit organization. Mrs. Shematz shared this verse from the Bible, which demonstrates a lot of the meaning behind the beliefs and feelings BFA stands for.

“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”  Psalm 82: 3-4

Gabriela Diaz is senior at Florida Gulf Coast University majoring in Communication with a minor in Spanish. A native Florida resident, she is originally from Miami, and a volunteer for Beauty From Ashes Ministries. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Beauty From Ashes' March Prayer Alert

Dear Faithful Intercessors,

Thank you for your continued commitment to intercede for Beauty From Ashes™ Ministries.  Your prayers are priceless to us and those we serve. Many great things are planned for March, and we are counting on your prayers to cover them all!

CLIENTS:  Please pray for our local and national clients' mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual healing.  Agree with us that they have sound minds and the courage to commit to the long term healing journey.  May they receive a revelation of God's love for them and the security of knowing who they are in Christ. Thank God for the work He's done already in their lives and His faithfulness to complete it.  Please pray for our new clients as they begin their journey of healing and building new life through Christ, as well as for a surrendered heart ready to commit to His path. 

OUTREACHES:  Thank God for the favor we have with sex business management and employees.  Pray that the Father's love will be evident in and through the team as they operate in unity and one accord.  May those we reach receive the revelation of who God is, how much He loves them, and may they embrace the truth that will set them free to be everything they were destined to be. Pray His free gift of love and life through our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ will be shared during our March outreach!  Pray that in His perfect timing that He'd bring all the details together & open the doors into unreached areas we are considering for upcoming outreaches.

ASSESSMENT/RESOURCE CENTER:  Praise Him for our partnership with the United Way, the Salvation Army, and Lee Physician's Healthcare Systems, where we are providing comprehensive and integrated mental health, medical, dental, social, and spiritual services to victims of commercialized sexual exploitation. Thank Him for opening the door for us to hold our weekly life skills and support group at Lee Memorial Hospital in central Fort Myers. Lee Memorial Hospital is located within walking distance to areas ripe with prostitution, strip clubs, and other sex industry work. Agree with us that God would bring the women He wants us to serve to us in both locations and that the staff of Lee Memorial Hospital will be as welcoming to us as were the staff of the United Way House. 

STAFF: The staff returned from their first retreat this week, where they were able to spend 5 days in Northern Florida camping and horse back riding. Pray for them as acclimate back into their work schedules and for a spirit of unity and harmony to reign. Pray for new staff as we begin the search process for hiring an administrative assistant position(s). May God send us the perfect person(s) to assist our Executive Director and Program Manager in the day to day operations and events.

VOLUNTEERS and INTERNS: Thank you for your prayers in the month of February! God worked abundantly by raising up new volunteers committed to serving on a regular basis.  Please pray our new gift assembly leader feels His peace and energy as she begins serving. Pray for strength, encouragement and commitment for current volunteers and that God would raise up more called, anointed, and dedicated servants ready to reach more people for Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  Please pray that God continue to instill a fire in the hearts of men and women to commit their time and resources in reaching, rescuing, and restoring victims as they become over-comers.

LONG TERM RESIDENTIAL PROGRAM:  Pray for God's direction, provision, staff, volunteers, and community engagement for existing programs and His perfect timing for ours. 

EVENTS: Praise God all of February's events were abundantly blessed by HIm! We are grateful for the events He has orchestrated for March. 
• Please pray for our upcoming Strip Club outREACH, taking place March 10th.  
• Pray for Life Focus TV as they film for a documentary on human trafficking, highlighting the work of Beauty From Ashes (BFA) Ministries on March 9th & 10th. As the show airs, pray victims from across the United States are moved with hope and that they reach out for help. 
• A group of Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) students will be hosting 72 hours of prayer, March 12th through the 15th.  They've asked BFA to have a table present and our founder and Executive Director, Julie Shematz, to speak and pray on March 12th. Pray that He uses the event to stir the hearts of college students to action. Above all, pray that He uses this event to reach any and all FGCU students currently working or at risk of being sex trafficked or sexually exploited. 
• On March 17th, Julie will be presenting to Awaken Ministries women's group, Pure Passion.  
• March 21st through the 25th, BFA be at Sanibel Community Church's Missions Conference. On Friday and on March 23rd, Julie will be speaking at their dinner banquet.  May all the details of this months events come divinely into place with passion, purpose, clarity, and hope.  
• Agree with us that hearers at awareness events will be inspired to become doers in the fight against human sex slavery here in the United States.

FUND RAISING: Praise God for His unending faithfulness; He continually provides the necessary financial support, allowing Beauty From Ashes, Florida's first human trafficking, overcomer led, community service agency to reach, rescue, and restore victims for His names sake. Pray that God would continue to raise up more businesses, agencies, churches, ministries, and individuals to initiate creative fund raising for BFA.  

PARTNERSHIPS:  Pray that God would continue to align us with the professional, governmental, private, corporate and faith based partnerships that are of His perfect will and nothing less.  Agree with us that these relationships be protected and that our partners are blessed abundantly. Thank Him for churches that are partnering with BFA and supporting us as missionaries.  May God continue to lay on the hearts of pastors and parishioners a burden to raise awareness and support the work of BFA. 

BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND ADVISORS:  Praise Him for the 2012 budget that was approved!  Agree with us for God to provide health, protection, wisdom, encouragement, and divine direction for BFA.  May He continue to work through the Directors, as they operate in one accord and in tune with the Holy Spirit. 
OTHER LIKE MINISTRIES/AGENCIES:  Pray for humbleness and wisdom for all agencies, organizations, and ministries and a desire for unity in helping victims become overcomers.  May the level of professionalism and ethical concern for victims be raised and licensed counselors and professional service providers unite with them to provide restoration services and program development.  Pray for balance, biblical priorities, and protection of marriages and families.  May strong boundaries be established and maintained for aftercare providers.  May God's strength and encouragement be imparted to all in the name of Jesus.  

FRIDAY PRAYER:  Join us in the spirit every Friday from 8-9am EST to intercede for the victims of commercialized sexual exploitation and sex slavery, as well as the agencies servicing them.  CLICK HERE for Prayer Guide. 

"He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted. He provides rain for the earth; He sends water on the countryside. The lowly He sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety."  Job 5:9-11

Thank you for your prayer support as we move into the spring season of 2012.  Know that we are praying for you.

Nancy Sampson & Sandi Spencer
Prayer Coordinators

Where Victims Become Over-Comers