On Thursday, Sept. 15, at Klehm Arboretum, Rockford Rescue Mission’s Women of Hope event celebrates the lives and stories of seven brave women as told in the powerful new book, The Other Side of Hope: From Dark Valleys to Wholeness.
First Free Rockford’s Jim Killam wrote the book in each of those seven voices, after extensive interviews with each woman. As the subtitle implies, the stories go through dark valleys—addiction, abuse, family pain and more—but resolve with God bringing each woman to healing and wholeness. Though all seven have a strong connection to the Mission, only one was ever a guest or resident there.
Rescue Mission CEO Sherry Pitney is one of those who tells her story. She says in the book’s introduction: “Every story in this book was once thought too painful and insignificant to ever tell anyone. Ultimately, we have realized that suffering remains part of our stories, but it doesn’t define us. Instead, we walked into our true identities as children of God.”
Each chapter was distinctly designed by graphic designer Jeff Larson, resulting in a finished product that takes on the feel of a patchwork quilt—with every unique story becoming part of one larger story of faith and hope.
This is Jim’s second book for the Mission, following 2004’s Rescuing the Raggedy Man: The Story of the Rockford Rescue Mission, which he wrote with Sherry’s husband, the late Perry Pitney. That book chronicled the Mission’s history from its founding in 1964 to the early 2000s. The Other Side of Hope takes a very different approach.
“We didn’t want to call this The Raggedy Woman and just pick up where the other book left off—though there is an element of that,” Jim says. “The Mission is a magnet for so many relevant, true stories of hope. This isn’t a book about a rescue mission. It’s a book about how we all need a rescue mission.”
Ruth Graham, daughter of Billy Graham, writes in the book’s foreword: “You will cry. You will get angry. And perhaps in your own deep places you will see your story and you will realize you are not alone and you are not crazy.”
The Sept. 15 event starts at 6:30 p.m. and includes appetizers, worship, fellowship and a panel discussion with several of the women who tell their stories in the book. Tickets are $25, with all proceeds supporting life transformation for women and children through Rockford Rescue Mission programs. Books will be available for purchase, and the Mission’s Remade program will have a pop-up shop with handmade home decor and gifts created by volunteers and residents in the Life Recovery program.
Klehm Arboretum is located at 2715 South Main St., Rockford. Tickets are on sale through Thursday, Sept. 8, either online or at the Mission, 715 West State St.
First Free Rockford has supported Rockford Rescue Mission for decades through financial donations and volunteer service. A number of the Mission’s staff members, past and present, have deep connections to our church.