By Sherrie Norris
A rare opportunity to spend an evening with four amazing women with incredible stories of faith, love and redemption will be coming to the Avery County Senior Center in Newland from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 19.
Beauty from Ashes will welcome Paige Mast Blevins, Paige “Kayla” Townsend, Ella Peterson Autrey and Pam Corum Greer for an evening of fellowship, worship, inspiration and encouragement. Each one of these women has a different story to share, with the same theme — how a loving God can carry you through the darkest times in life.
Watauga County’s Chad Cole, who also pastors Chestnut Dale Baptist Church in Avery County, is coordinating the event with the help of others in the area.
The idea springs from an outreach Cole started earlier this year, he said. “The Lord laid on my heart to help grieving widows in Avery County with a monthly meeting we refer to as ‘Healing Sisters’ —meant to bring widows together for a time of fellowship and support.”
Unaware of any similar outreach in the area, Cole said, it became apparent to him that the support was greatly needed as one of his church members became a widow.
“With just one widow in our church, I felt the Lord telling me to open this up to as many as possible, whether in a local church or not,” he said.
As news began to spread throughout the community about the ministry, Cole said others started asking about doing something to encourage all women.
“My biggest two hurdles include the fact that I’m not a woman, so I don’t think like one, and secondly, I’m not a widow, so I can’t imagine what they are going through,” he said. “I know what we are told biblically about taking care of the widows, so that part of the request I was good with. But, what are we to do for those that are struggling with just being a mom, wife, caretaker, school teacher, banker, retired, unemployed… broken? We are to encourage and support to the best of our ability.”
“It was as if the Lord himself was standing beside my desk at work one day and gave me four names to contact — and ask if they would be willing to speak to those seeking redemption.”
Three out of the four Cole personally knew, he said, and had heard their stories.
“Within three hours, all four had agreed. I didn’t get the typical ‘no,’ which is ‘I’ll pray about it,’ but they gave a solid ‘yes’ without hesitation. Each one of them knew the importance of needing the support from our Heavenly Father and those around us as we journey through the valleys of life. Each one of these ladies has a special story about overcoming some of life’s greatest obstacles, but only through Jesus could it ever happen.”
Paige Mast Blevins
“I am so honored and grateful that Chad has asked me to share my testimony with these women. I have always told my family that God has left me here for a reason and I want to use the testimony He has given me to help others. Whether they be in a similar situation as me, or just going through a trial. I will never get over losing my husband, but I am forever grateful for the hope and knowledge that I have of being able to see him again. God has truly blessed me through my life with a wonderful Christian home and family, two wonderful Godly men that loved and love me, two beautiful children and church family. God has put so many ‘God things’ in my path, especially these last 10 years, that reminds me that He is with me. I look forward to sharing, along with these three Godly women, what he has done and continues to do for me, and I’m blessed to stand beside them at this event. I pray that all our testimonies glorify the Lord and inspire others — that even in dark times, God is always with us.”
“The Beauty from Ashes event has a special place in my heart. It is an opportunity to share my testimony and story with other women who maybe struggling and need some encouragement. Four women uniting together to share the gospel is an amazing opportunity and I’m humbled to be a part of the event. God has shown me so much grace and mercy through my trials, and even though my story is different from the other three women who will be speaking, we all have God on our side through everything we have encountered. I hope this event will shed some light for other women who may need help through a current or past trial or maybe even help someone come to know Jesus, that would be amazing!!!”
Ella Peterson Autrey
“Five years ago, my life changed forever. I remember thinking to myself, ‘How am I going to be able to live through this?’ However, through the living hope I have in Jesus Christ, family, friends and the most supportive community, we were able to take one breath at a time, one foot in front of the other and keep going through the darkness. As a native of Avery County, I still have people come up to me and tell me they prayed for me and my daughter. It is an honor to be able to come back Avery County and share with these precious women what God has done in my life and the Hope we can all have in Him alone.”
Pam Corum Greer
“I am absolutely honored to stand beside three other women representing God’s glory and speak of what God has done in our lives. To be a speaker at this event is true confirmation of my prayers as to where God wants me and where he is taking me. I am in awe of where He has brought me in my life and in complete faith of where I feel Him taking me. I’m so thankful that I was thought of as a representative of the Lord for this event.”
More About Beauty From Ashes
The name of the event “Beauty from Ashes” comes from the scripture found in Isaiah 61:3, Cole explained. “In a nutshell, the folks in Zion were focused on the past and not willing to see the new beginning ahead of them. Just like all of us, we can get so caught up in the bad things in life that we lose sight of what God has planned for us. The Bible tells us “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord“.”
“After all we have been through the past few years,” Cole added, “and what so many are going through at this very moment, we need to look past the ashes of shame, disgrace and mourning and see the beauty of redemption.”
The Senior Center was chosen as a location central and unaffiliated with any church body, Cole said, “Even though the entire event is Christ-centered. This night isn’t sponsored by any one person, business or church, as no funding was needed. However, refreshments will be provided by Avery Baptist Association since the event starts at 6 p.m. and some may not have time to get supper beforehand.
It is a free event, but tickets are recommended to insure adequate space is available.