I’d like to introduce you to my friend Charity Muhammad. As you may know, I started a new job a few months ago, as an acquisitions editor for Moody Publishers, and Charity is one of my co-workers. As I’ve gotten to know her and a bit of her story, I’ve become eager to tell you about her and her ministry. I think there are many of you who will not only find her story encouraging, but perhaps find inspiration to launch something similar. As you read this post, keep in mind that Charity runs this ministry in her spare time. I think you’ll be as impressed as I am.
So I asked Charity if she would be willing to let me share her words with you. She graciously agreed (she’s a very gracious person), and I hope you’ll appreciate what she had to say.
Tell us a bit about yourself and why ministry to hurting people is important to you.
This kind of ministry is so important to me because I know how it feels to hurt and to feel like life isn’t worth living, to want to die.
I was raised in the church, in a very legalistic background. I was molested, starting when I was 8 years old. When I was 17, I was in an abusive relationship, and one day this thought came into my head: “One day you’re going to help somebody.” I didn’t know back then that it was the voice of the Lord. I didn’t know how I was going to help people; it was just a thought.
But as I got older, I believed I was going to die. I was raped and beaten, and horrible things happened to me. I didn’t believe I was going to live past the age of 23. I always thought I was going to die at 23. But that thought–that my story was going to help somebody–stuck with me. Now I attribute that to the voice of the Lord.
At 23, I broke up with my ex-boyfriend and met my husband. At 24 I got married. I still battled depression and thoughts of suicide. I didn’t understand why I continued to have this struggle. Normally I’m a jolly and happy person. But deep inside I had this sorrow and anger I didn’t understand. It got progressively worse until at 28, I had a nervous breakdown. I knew I was depressed but didn’t realize how high my anxiety was or that I wasn’t really sleeping. One day I tried to get up for work and I couldn’t move. My body was like “Look, we’re not going anywhere.” My husband became very concerned.
I saw a psychologist for therapy. This kind of depression is so acute, you need treatment. I went to a hospital and did group therapy in a day treatment program. It was the most amazing things I’ve ever done for myself in my life. The group counselor was a believer, and I could tell she was praying. I said, “You pray for us, don’t you?” She said yeah. God used her in such a powerful way, and by the time I went back to my therapist, I was able to talk things through. I had stabilized. I took anti-anxiety medication and slept for two days. I hadn’t realized I wasn’t sleeping.
When my therapist learned my story of being molested as a child, she asked me a lot of questions about how I responded emotionally, and eventually she diagnosed me with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
I was so happy that I knew what it was. Just giving it a name, I felt I had power over it. We went through the process of developing coping mechanisms, and I started to get better. The therapist told me the abuse was not my fault. Being beaten regularly was not my fault. All along, I thought it was my fault. God knew I needed to hear that.
I still have my struggles, but I did experience restoration through therapy and God’s grace. Now I am very strong, but I still have suicidal thoughts. So we created a game plan to work through those thoughts. God used the therapist to speak to me. I did relapse and had to go back a year later because I had not gone through the full natural process of taking care of my mental health.
I forgave my abuser through prayer and fasting and reading my Bible. But I still have natural ramifications of being abused for so long, my brain still reacts to it. I’m still human, and my body is still reacting to abuse. It’s real.
God may never 100-percent heal me from this, but I still trust him and believe he is using this for his good. If he doesn’t take it away, he’s still good.
Now I feel called to minister to other hurting people, period. It’s almost like a pull. It’s insatiable. I can’t shake it.
What kind of ministry do you offer, and who are you reaching?
When I initially started, I thought I would be ministering to women 15 to 25. It was intended for young women–that’s who I was drawn to. But God is bringing women of all ages. Even older women want to be nurtured. I believe God has given me that gift.
I host two workshops. One is a child sexual abuse awareness workshop. I work with Ashley, a facilitator from Darkness to Light. She travels around and teaches child sexual abuse awareness: What is our responsibility if you become aware of a situation. We train a lot of clergy. I like to have a therapist and a nurse or doctor, along with a trainer. I like to talk about the mental-health ramifications.
I just hosted my first domestic violence awareness workshop and provided resources, things to notice, information on how to support a survivor. We had a panel with two survivors of domestic violence, a nurse, and a psychologist. The audience was able to ask detailed questions. The last workshop we had was at a women’s shelter. The women were very engaged. We also had quite a few men, and they asked more questions than the women.
I like to go into the poorest of poor neighborhoods that are under-served. The West Side and South Side of Chicago don’t have resources. They don’t have shelters. They have high rates of homicide, and families don’t know how to support those who are living with violence. This is where I’m going: to the people who don’t have this information and support.
What are some of the needs you’re trying to meet in the community?
There’s a need to educate women on who God made them to be and just show them enough love that they understand that they deserve to live. There’s not a lot of love, and I want to bring it. There are a lot of people who want to do something and just don’t know how. If I can teach you, connect you with the right people, you can take that back and share it. People in the communities want to help and don’t know how. God is teaching me how to teach them. Equipping me so I can equip them. My mom taught me that the information we receive is not ours to keep. It should be given freely. I never knew that I would become a community activist. It was God who instilled this passion inside of me, it was my mother who unknowingly nurtured it, and even though I’m the one operating in this capacity, I am still awestruck by it all.
How do you get the word out about what you’re doing?
I use social media a lot. I have a hype team. I get them pumped up. I ask people to be social media influencers, share fliers, and tell people. For this workshop I paid a few dollars to promote it on Facebook. I make digital fliers on Canva.com. I try to connect with churches. They are under-equipped. I really have a heart for churches and their leaders. That’s my primary focus.
My next event is going to be in the heart of the Englewood neighborhood in Chicago. I like to partner with different people. I host and bring in other people with their own stories and their own expertise and bring them together, and they help spread the word. And I tell my own story too.
What would you tell other people who are thinking about trying to do something similar in their own communities?
Just do it. As my mom says, “Do the work.” But I highly recommend that you don’t try to do it by yourself. Find people who are as passionate as you, and do it together as a team. Anytime you’re trying to do something for the kingdom of God, you’re going to get a lot of push-back. But people really want to say yes. They want to make a difference in the community. And every community has its own personality. Trust that God is going to tell you what the community personality is, then go with the flow.
How do you find your partners?
I found Ashley, the Darkness to Light facilitator, at a conference and just felt a pull. I walked over and exchanged numbers with her. She called me and told me a little more about her ministry, and we linked up that way. But a lot of the people are my friends. I was surprised at how many of my friends wanted to do something like this.
As it grows, more people become interested and want to make an impact. God will give you a firm foundation, and you can just build on that. God sends people who want to help.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
The thing I’m trying to do is so much bigger than me. This has nothing to do with me at all. This has everything to do with God. When I find myself feeling bad about myself, the knowledge that this is about God being glorified in me, is what carries me. I could have ended it all if it weren’t for God’s grace and mercy. It’s 100 percent him. Well, maybe 99 percent. He has me do the work on the ground.
I love to connect and to pray for people. So please contact me:
You can email Charity at this address.
© 2018 Amy Simpson.