As director of the outreach ministry of my church, I'm responsible for creating service opportunities for our congregation. This is often done by developing partnerships with area non-profits. So when Karen Burke came to speak to my pastor a few months ago about her ministry. I was asked to be part of the conversation. Her unusual conversion experience proved to be the harbinger of a unique path to Promise of Grace Ministries.
After five minutes of hearing her story, I knew God was moving in her life and ministry. I wanted to find a way to be part of the exciting things God was doing!
I recently sat down with Karen again to interview her and share the story of Promise of Grace Ministries.
How did you come to know Christ?
Thirty-four years ago, when I was 19, I was a passenger in a speeding Corvette. The driver asked me, “If I was to crash this Corvette right now and you were to die, would you go to heaven or hell?” I emphatically replied “Heaven!” But my friend’s next question, Why? changed my life. I listed all the things I thought I did right – or at least, didn’t do wrong. He pulled over and asked me, “What word do you keep saying over and over?” “I” was my response. “You’ve got it all backwards”, he counseled. "Going to heaven or hell has nothing to do with what YOU do or don’t do, but rather what GOD has done for you and whether you accept it or not!" Then he opened his Bible to Ephesians 2:8-9 and read
For by Grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.
He explained the gift of salvation and I accepted Christ on the shoulder of Route 9.
How did Promise of Grace come into being?
About 28 years ago, I gave birth to my son. The medical complications I suffered during that delivery took their toll and, after several years, it became obvious I couldn't have more children. I was heartbroken, but eventually I began to think about how I could direct my desire for more children. I had a heart for unwed mothers, so I began praying God would one day give me the opportunity to open a home for them.
In my twenties, I waitressed with and witnessed to a girl named Sue. She wanted no part of God and eventually opened a bar. I too moved on and started a garbage hauling business called Lady in Red. One day, one of my dumpsters was delivered across the street from Sue’s home. She knew I had started this business and seeing the number on the side of the bin, she called and asked if I remembered her. I did. Sue explained she’d gotten saved and thanked me for planting the seeds. After that call, we only bumped into each other occasionally over the next 20 years.
On June 7, 2012, I woke in the middle of the night and wrote down Promise of Grace Ministries – with God, nothing is impossible. I had no idea what it meant, but I put the paper in my nightstand drawer.
Six months later, my husband was in the hospital, and Sue randomly showed up. She told me God had been convicting her to shut down the bar. A few days later, Sue phoned to say she felt led to turn the bar into a girl’s home, and would I facilitate it? I told her God had already given me a name for it… Promise of Grace.
What’s the goal of Promise of Grace?
To give hope to pregnant girls who find themselves at a crossroads, and provide them the opportunity to chose life for their unborn child.
What’s been the hardest part of the journey this past year?
People telling me all the reasons why this COULD NOT come to fruition. I know my God is bigger and can move mountains to make it happen.
What’s been the greatest joy?
The little things! Finding a heart-shaped rock when I was praying for a sign; having someone volunteer to cut the grass around the Promise of Grace property. Those were God Moments for me. God doesn’t just answer the monumental prayers, but the little ones too.
What's Next for POGM?
We’re putting the finishing touches on the home and hope to open this April. To help with the costs of renovation and running the home, we’re holding a Motorcycle Rally Fundraiser April 12th - all the details and a registration form are HERE. Those who don’t ride can still attend the festivities after the ride at Central: a Christ-centered church on Route 31 in Ewing, NJ.
All donations are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated.
Toni Campbell is a mother of three counting her new son-in-law! Employed as the Creative Services Director for a New Jersey radio station, she is also a voice-over artist, blogger, and director of CommunityConnections, the outreach ministry of her church. Toni has written devotions for christiandevotions.us and The Quiet Hour. Her passion is showing God’s love to others through practical acts of service. Toni can be found blogging at Lakeside Lessons, on Facebook, and Twitter.