SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - An outreach for expecting moms is bringing together people of all denominations in East Texas. The Magdalene Home, located in Smith County, is changing the lives of women in difficult situations. The ministry's founder, Wendi Rees, works to provide a supportive environment for mothers who are choosing between parenting and adoption.
"Whether it's a girl who's had an abortion before or a mom who has had infertility problems and now has a desire to adopt or someone's sister who got pregnant in high school -- there are so many different fingers of parts of our ministry that go out and touch people in different ways," Rees said.
The home is a haven for East Texas women, many of whom are single. "The girls," as Rees affectionately calls them, are prepared for motherhood through parenting classes, counseling, and life and job skills training in a group setting.
"The reason we call it the Magdalene home is because just like Mary Magdalene in the Bible, to me she is the epitome of the outcast. She is the one that no one wanted anything to do with and people shunned her. When the Lord Jesus to the Earth and had one encounter with her, it totally changed her life. And she never left his side."
Walking with Christ is the ministry's foundation. An opportunity to heal was an important part of Rees' own journey as a survivor of childhood sexual assault.
"By the time I was 18 years old, I really just felt like a piece of meat, someone that was just here for that type of enjoyment for men. So I ended up in a topless bar for two years, all-the-while never drinking, smoking, doing drugs. You know, because I didn't want to go to Hell. But the moral compass had been so messed up from my childhood from the abuse that I had suffered."
Rees says the Lord freed her from shame by discovering she wasn't alone in the darkness she felt.
"Other people had the same story. It became empowering because you see that what the enemy meant to use to destroy you, really, God used that to glorify himself for our good and his glory."
As her spiritual walk progressed, blessings became abundant. Rees found a loving husband and had two children. They later adopted two more. Still, Rees said something was missing.
"God was just really pricking my heart to other people because he had done so much for me. You know, in the Bible it talks about 'to whom much is given, much is required.' And the Lord has blessed me so much and it just drove me to want to help other people."
Since April, the Magdalene Home has welcomed its first two births. Rees says it's evidence more lives can be changed forever through the power of prayer.
"He (God) opened my eyes and showed me that if I was willing to just literally sweep those broken pieces to the foot of the cross, that he made it beautiful."
On Saturday, May 16, East Texans are invited to spend the day with family, helping The Magdalene Home at the same time. The 'Lovin' on the Kids' benefit will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Tyler's Bergfeld Park. Plenty of activities are planned for children: bounce houses, a dunking booth, face painting and a dunking booth. Admission to each event is one dollar. The first two-thousand families will get a free backpack filled with gifts. Families are asked to bring non-perishable food our household items for the Magdalene Home.