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April 10, 2014

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Sharon Hodges, a May 2013 graduate at the BCF Orlando Site, serves as the Director of the Lydia House in Orlando.

The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) in Graceville continues to see the tremendous difference graduates are making in their communities and around the world.  For example, Sharon Hodges, a May 2013 graduate at the BCF Orlando Site, serves as the Director of the Lydia House, a transition home for women who are getting out of jail or prison and have made a profession of faith desiring to change their lives.

Hodges was offered the opportunity to serve as the Director of the Lydia House the semester before she graduated. She is one of many BCF graduates who immediately put their education and training to work. Jim Robinett, Director of the Orlando Site, had many kind words to say regarding Hodges, “Sharon is a wonderful example from our Orlando Site of an excited and prepared graduate fulfilling a meaningful ministry and serving on a church staff.”

According to Hodges, the Lydia House ministry provides food, clothing, and housing in a monitored environment with Godly house moms. “We work with the ladies on several different levels. Our main goal is to teach them how to have a relationship with Christ Jesus.  It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit working in them that their lives can be radically changed,” stated Hodges. The ladies are surrounded by opportunities to grow in their relationship with God through ACTS (Academy of Christian Training and Service) classes, Life Groups (Sunday School), worship services, and Christian counseling.

The ladies of Lydia House are given the chance to learn valuable life skills such as communication, how to establish safe boundaries, job ready skills, and when necessary they are provided with tutors to help them continue their education. “Lydia House is a frontline ministry that partners with Christ in reclaiming the lives of women who have been deceived and destroyed by Satan,” stated Hodges. “Serving in this ministry is such a blessing because God uses us for His good. We have a front row seat to watch God change lives!”

Hodges first started helping with the First Baptist Church Orlando’s Women’s jail ministry about 6 1/2 years ago. She and several other ladies on the team met with Senior Pastor David Uth and requested a room that could be used for storing clothes and other supplies for inmates released from jail. “The need for places to support women who want to change was (and is) enormous. Our hearts were burdened by these ladies and their needs,” stated Hodges.

Pastor Uth was very receptive to their request, immediately searching for a room that would meet their needs. In light of his response, Hodges and the other ladies asked about providing a house for the ladies transitioning back into society. After the meeting, they began to pray for the birth of Lydia House until it became a reality and had its first resident in 2010. “Every woman that has graduated in the program is still actively growing and pursuing their relationship with Jesus Christ,” stated Hodges, affirming the tremendous success of Lydia House.

According to Hodges, attending BCF helped prepare her to take on the leadership role of the Lydia House, as well as future responsibilities. When asked about the specific ways in which it prepared her, Hodges acknowledged one of the most important ways was learned in her Hermeneutics class. “Being trained on how to study and understand what Scripture says in order to help the ladies learn about God, how He can change their life, and find purpose for their life was vital. Of course the implication of that reaches deeply in my personal walk with the Lord as well.” Hodges also mentioned the value of learning about church structure and ministry and how that has equipped her in her position.

When asked about words of encouragement or advice to other BCF students, Hodges stated that she had no idea where God would lead her upon completion of her degree, but knew that He had called her to theological education. “I followed His leading, focused on my classes, and learned to the best of my ability. I put my trust in Him - that He would place me at the right place, wherever and whatever that place would be. My advice would be to work hard in all the classes, even if you don’t see how you are going to use them. Learn as much as you can and glean from the fantastic professors that God has entrusted you to. Don’t ever stop learning even after graduation.” Hodges last piece of advice, “Don’t let your age, gender, or anything keep you from Christ’s leading in your life!”

For more information about the college that is preparing the next greatest generation, contact The Baptist College of Florida at 800.328.2660 ext. 460 or visit the website at www.baptistcollege.edu.