She is called “Sweet Miracle.”
It was in the mountains of Honduras that she was found lying face down in the dirt, a newborn still attached to the placenta. She wasn’t expected to live but is now a healthy toddler waiting for adoption.
There is another child, a girl who gave birth at 12. Her father and uncle started sexually assaulting her at the at age 3.
And then there is the boy who saw his father attack his mother with a machete.
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They have all found refuge and love with Heart of Christ, a spiritual ministry started by Gracie Murphree and her husband, the Rev. Lee Murphree, in 2005.
The president of Heart of Christ, Gracie Murphree is touring southern states, visiting churches and civic groups, seeking support for the nonprofit, nondenominational mission.
She visited Columbus recently.
“It is not just money but workers we need,” Murphree said.
She is promoting a new venture called the “Justice Project Honduras,” which will open the first justice center in Honduras. This is being done in partnership with the Gospel Justice Initiative, which opens justice centers in the United States. Murphree wants to see justice centers throughout Latin America.
She would also like to see more in this country, perhaps one in Columbus.
Murphree said the purpose of a justice center is to advocate for vulnerable groups, such as women, children, the elderly and the disabled who suffer violence and provide them with services such as legal help, shelter, social assistance and restoration aftercare programs.
She said the justice system that should protect these people often does not.
The justice center will provide community information to strengthen the family, create a culture of peace and teach people how to recognize victims of violence and how to participate in their rescue and restoration.
“In Honduras, the person who commits the crime gets free legal representation but not the victims, not the women and children,” she said.
“God is calling us to do justice. God really has a heart of justice.”
Isaiah 1:17 says: Learn to do right, seek justice, defend the oppressed. That is the inspiration for Heart of Christ.
The nonprofit organization has always referred to itself a justice ministry.
Heart of Christ is multifaceted but its biggest focus is providing a safe haven for abused women and children in a place the United Nations calls one of the most violent countries in the world — a place where sex trafficking is a major problem.
Heart of Christ furnishes a shelter for rape victims and women escaping violent situations who can’t go home during the processing of their cases. There is a transition house where authorities drop off abused children who will eventually go to foster homes. Heart of Christ is the only refuge for pregnant children.
A new home-school building under construction is near completion.
Other work done by Heart of Christ includes providing Bibles and other Christian literature to the people, training of community leaders and pastors to strengthen existing churches and start new ones, providing clothing and aiding local doctors and clinics to provide better health care.
Murphree said their mission takes in disabled children not accepted at other facilities.
“The children learn about a God who loves them,” Murphree said.
She goes on police raids to rescue children. Her life has been threatened by gang members when she speaks at churches.
Local supporters include Cheryl Brady of Columbus and her daughter, Carly Blalock, who have visited Heart of Christ in Honduras.
“We fell in love with the ministry,” said Brady, a personal trainer. “We are just overwhelmed by the work being done there.”
Among positions that need filling are social worker, victim’s advocate, psychologist, pastor, media specialist and educators.