Alice Byram served at the U.S. Navigators headquarters in Colorado Springs for a dozen years and as director of women’s ministries for churches in Wyoming and San Antonio after that. In 2011 she was invited to participate in a Bible study with women who faced challenging situations. “I went and I never left!” she says. Why? Alice realized her life experiences had uniquely prepared her to minister to women there.
Alice met Carmen* who lives at the home where the Bible study meets. Carmen didn’t join in the study. “That Jesus stuff isn’t for me,” she told Alice. Still, Carmen hung around during refreshments. One week Alice asked her if she’d like to go out for breakfast that Saturday, and Carmen agreed.
They met for breakfast at 10:00 a.m. and talked until 4:00 that afternoon! Alice told her, “If you ever want to look at the Bible, I’m here.” Their time together was the beginning of a relationship, and one night Carmen decided to call and take Alice up on the invitation to look at the Bible. Soon after starting to read the Bible with Alice, Carmen decided to follow Jesus.
When Alice and Carmen first met, Carmen was estranged from most of her family. Now she is becoming reconciled to many of them. In fact, Alice now meets with Carmen’s sister, who is reaching out to her colleagues at the school where she works. “Carmen and her sister are taking what they are learning and sharing it with others,” Alice says.
As Carmen grew in her faith, she started partnering with Alice in ministry in Carmen’s predominately Hispanic neighborhood. She began teaching a class on crafts, and after the lesson, Alice would tell a Bible story. Alice told her, “You are my friend and we do life together. It’s both of us sharing with each other.”
Alice’s ministry in this community has expanded far beyond the Bible study. She got to know a social worker who invited her to become a mentor to girls at a local high school. Some are single parents. “I love them as they are, walk by their side, embrace their culture. I let them know I’m here to do life with them,” she explains.
Alice adds that it is very important for her to take ministry slowly, as God leads, and be sure to build trust. “Trust is the biggest thing,” she says. “You have to take time to allow the women to trust you. Trust comes very slowly. In their experience anyone who is Anglo will want to make them into a white American.”
God uses Alice’s life experiences to help her relate. She was a single mother to three children, and some of her family members have struggled with drug addiction.
“As I meet with these ladies I am not shocked or threatened, because I’ve been there, with my own children or with others,” she explains.
Recently Alice began leading a Bible study with recovering drug addicts. “It’s one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done,” she says. These women are finding healing through telling their stories and learning what it means to find their identity in Christ.
“I’m learning that I cannot fix anyone,” Alice reflects. “I’m learning to depend on the Holy Spirit to be the agent of change. I’m learning to pull back, share the truth from the Word, and let God be God.
“Some people look at this community and see only drug addicts, teen pregnancies, and crime,” she says. “I see people I love and want to be around—people with hopes, dreams, and desires for their lives and their families’ lives, people wanting to be accepted and loved. I see women and girls who embrace me as their friend as we do life together.”
Pray for Alice Byram and Carmen and others who serve in neighborhoods like this all over the United States. Navigators Encore staff are veteran Navigators who are continuing to make a vital contribution to the Great Commission by using their gifting and experience in the context of God-directed relationships.