The Advent Life Seventh-day Adventist Church is an active congregation in Santa Fe that is known for reaching out to its community. The church aims to create opportunities for its members that are meaningful and encourage personal growth.
“At Advent Life church, we have one goal. It is to become more human and sensitive to the things that truly matter in life,” said Tiago Arrais, pastor of Advent Life. “We want to be more loving, kind, forgiving and patient and have learned that we are able to attain these things by studying the teachings of Jesus and deepening our understanding of Him.”
Striving to be more like Jesus, Advent Life church runs several successful ministries, including providing hot meals at the Interfaith Community Shelter and taking lunches to the homeless community every week. The church is hoping to expand this ministry in the future by opening a care facility that will assist and complement other established ministries in Santa Fe. Recently, Advent Life church started a new women’s support group ministry. After experiencing some traumatic events in her life, Wendy Redic, first elder of the church, began talking to women and became convinced that women need a safe place to come together to talk, share and lean on each other.
“As I spoke to Sabrina Martinez, who has experienced abusive relationships and recently lost her father and grandfather to COVID-19, the need for a support group was apparent. It was then that we decided to start the Abundant Life Women’s Support Group,” said Redic.
The Abundant Life Women’s Support Group is open to women who are members of the church or are a part of the community and are experiencing hardships in life. It is especially intended for women experiencing grief, emotional/ mental/physical abuse, loneliness, sexual discrimination, health issues, feelings of overwhelm or other difficult circumstances. Redic believes some women may simply need a break from the duties of caretaking, whether it be for a relative or their children.
“We invite women to join our meetings regardless of where they are in life,” said Redic. “They have the option to meet with us in person or through Zoom. Our meetings encourage open discussions and sharing of our experiences. Participants have the opportunity to relate to each other and, most importantly, listen and empathize in a sincere and meaningful way that provides comfort while understanding that they can’t fix everything.”
The support group has a few ground rules. First, participants are not allowed to say, “here’s what you need to do.” Redic explains, “We can share personal experiences or things that worked for us, but we are not there to tell each other how to solve each other’s problems. We do, however, have a list of resources and services if someone needs professional assistance.”
Second, the group commits to keeping anything that is said in the meetings confidential so that women continue feeling safe to share their stories and hearts. The support group has delved into different topics such as abuse and its many aspects which include gaslighting, love bombing and trauma bonding.
“These are terms that describe behavior that many women in abusive relationships have experienced, but many of them have never heard of these terms nor know the behavior has a name,” said Redic.
Redic plans to invite guest speakers for topics such as grief and depression. She’d like to organize retreats as well as expand the reach of this ministry to influence young girls in a positive way.
“My dream is to also reach young girls and help them understand their worth and build self-esteem, so they don’t end up in problematic relationships or situations,” said Redic. “I truly believe that, with God, all things are possible!”