THE LIGHT IS ALWAYS ON…. One Graduate’s Story of Redemption and Grace

This is a personal account from Cheryl McClure (Gilgal Board Member)  about Sue, a recent Gilgal graduate. We believe it affirms the challenges that all of us face, and our individual need to rest in the redemptive power of God’s amazing grace.

When I first heard Val Cater share the Gilgal story, I was deeply moved.  I learned about the organization from my friend Kenya, who leads a team of Georgia State nursing students in providing health screenings and education to the residents.  I knew that Gilgal was a place of recovery for homeless women overcoming addictions, and I could feel the Holy Spirit’s presence the moment I stepped onto the property.  But what I didn’t know was the whole story.

I didn’t know how Gilgal began in the heart of a loving Savior over 10 years ago.  Or, how one couple’s obedience could influence countless lives. A simple act of faith on the part of Val and her husband caused a ripple effect —  not only transforming hundreds of women through a new life in Christ, but impacting their families and communities as well. Knowing this is what influenced my decision to join the Gilgal Board.

Over the last two years, it has been my privilege to be a small part of what God is doing there. I watch Him change lives virtually before my eyes.  Women who’ve come in with disparaging stories are learning to escape the destructive cycles that imprison them.

Each woman who comes to Gilgal is introduced to Christ, and the chance to embrace His cross and receive His redemptive grace.  And when they do, something truly amazing takes place — transformation. Simple, real, and lasting change that only happens when the light comes on and they see beyond the impossible to the bright future God promises them.

This is what I saw happen with Sue, who graduated from Gilgal in August of this year.  It is important to note that this was not Sue’s first time at Gilgal – nor her first graduation.  The first time through, she completed all of the program requirements. During Phase 1 (Life Exchange Center), she received addiction and mental health services, relapse prevention, mentoring, spiritual nourishment and personal case management. She was then moved to the Homeward Bound (Phase 2) program where she became gainfully employed and ready for independent living.  During her 12-month stay, she retained her sobriety and completed all program requirements, graduating from Gilgal in 2011. But as Sue quickly learned, her challenges were not over.

      SUE, August 2015 Graduate

“I graduated from Gilgal first in July 2011,” Sue shares, “but I had not done any of the things necessary to maintain my recovery. I was working too much and taking on extra hours because I didn’t want to say no. When I had thoughts about using again, I kept them to myself because I wanted to be strong and not ask for help. I had relapsed long before I took my first drink. After that, everything went downhill. I came back to Gilgal in September of 2011, but relapsed in March 2012 and left once again. I even went into another program from May 2012 to July 2013 and graduated, but relapsed the next day. It wasn’t until I accepted the fact that I cannot drink and got honest with myself and God that I cannot do this without Him, that things began to change.”

Then Sue remembered what Val tells every Gilgal woman:  The light is always on. Grace is always there for any woman who finds herself in need.  There is no condemnation and no judgment. Just an open door back to the Light of the World – Jesus Christ.

And that is when I met Sue, in August 2014, when she returned to Gilgal. It was during a time when I was assisting with client intake and case management. I will never forget our first encounter. Her humility and transparency are what struck me the most.

Honesty is the key,” Sue told me. “I thank God every day for what He is doing in my life, but I know that I have to do my part.”

I believe this mindset enabled her to persevere and graduate again.  This time through, however, Sue had no false security in herself or her own abilities.  Her entire focus was on her utter dependency on Christ to sustain her.

Throughout this past year, I have had the pleasure of leading a weekly bible discovery group called “Be Transformed.”  In it, the women learn of their identity in Christ, the truth of His love and grace, and the reality of His finished work of redemption on the Cross.  Indeed, “It is finished.” (John 19:30). Jesus Himself says, “I am the Light of the World; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of Life.”  (John 8:12)

Sue has found this Light of Life.  And while there is no guarantee that she will not relapse again, she knows that the Light is always on.  It’s the true Light of Christ, illuminating a path in the darkness and offering hope and forgiveness for anyone who wants to come home.

Change Happens at Gilgal, and Sue is a part of it!

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!  18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)


Come meet Sue and other Gilgal women at our upcoming Blue Jean Gala on Thursday, October 15, 2015.  We’re celebrating 10 years of restoring homeless women with addictions, and invite you to join us for a special evening of testimonies of how God has “Reclaimed, Renamed and Forever Changed” lives through Gilgal. We’ll share some of the many ways you can partner in Gilgal’s future. You can even come early and tour our facilities to learn more about us. Click HERE for details.

For additional information about Gilgal or the women we serve, visit our website at

Change Happens at Gilgal and You Can Be a Part of It!