Mission in My Words- JJ Heller

Mission in My Words- JJ Heller

My husband Dave and I have been on tour with contemporary Christian artist Josh Wilson and his cousin and drummer, Chris Wilson. Chris used to work at Nashville Rescue Mission, and Josh has performed and volunteered there on many occasions. In interacting with them, it became obvious how passionate they are about the Mission.

Through their stories, I learned the Mission doesn’t just give people a hand out or a hand up. They seek to rehabilitate those in need through life–changing programs that are based on faith and trust in God. Dave and I were very intrigued.

We moved our family to Franklin, TN, two and half years ago. We have always been passionate about finding ways to share our music with people who might not have the means to buy it or pay for a concert ticket. So when we got a call inviting us to sing at one of the Mission’s monthly graduation ceremonies, we were thrilled.

During the graduation, we sang “What Love Really Means,” a song we wrote ten years ago. It was my prayer that the words would remind each person no matter what … God loves them. He delights in them. We are all imperfect people in need of God’s love and His love is unconditional.

Throughout the ceremony we heard story after story from men and women who had spent the last six or seven months acknowledging their issues and finding hope and healing. Some had struggled with drugs, others alcohol. Regardless of what brought them to the Mission, on this day they were bravely standing before family and friends— giving God the glory.

I was inspired by their bravery. When it felt like the world had kicked them to the curb, they were brave enough to go to the Mission, work through their issues, and gain the skills to help them move forward in life.

I was deeply touched by the stories from moms who were separated from their children during their journey. I’m a mom. I have two little girls, ages eight and five. It’s hard for me to comprehend what these moms are going through. To not be able to provide for your children must be painful. But instead of throwing in the towel and checking out emotionally, these moms took bold, courageous steps to get help. I have so much respect for them.

Nashville Rescue Mission is a special place. It’s one thing to feed someone when they’re hungry. It’s another when you’re willing to dig deeper, help someone work through their issues, then teach them skills that lead to a better future.

The Mission treats people like people and not like problems. They are restoring dignity and hope to so many that have been cast aside. I know for all they do, it brings joy to the heart of God.

Nashville, Tennessee-based singer/songwriter JJ Heller is an American Christian folk singer, known for her song, “What Love Really Means,” which peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Singles chart. She performs with longtime collaborator, guitarist, producer, and husband David Heller. Unto Us, her first Christmas LP arrived in 2016.

Good From Grief

Good From Grief

“I first got involved with Nashville Rescue Mission through my friend Kelly Putty,” said Carol. “We attended church together, and I had volunteered to help with a Fall Festival at the Mission through Ordinary Heroes, Kelly’s nonprofit organization. I had such a great time that when Mother’s Day rolled around, I was delighted to help with gift bags for the women.”

But after Carol’s husband suddenly passed away in 2009, close to Mother’s Day, she decided she wanted to channel her grief into something positive that would be a blessing to others. “I’d been helping Kelly with this event for two years when I told her, ‘Kelly, I believe God is calling me to lead this project.”’

I want each woman to know she is special, she is loved, she is treasured,” said Carol. “We collect an assortment of useful, personal, and fun items, such as flip flops, wash cloths, combs, brushes, makeup, magazines … things that might seem small to you and me, but to a woman who has lost everything, these items could mean the world.”

Carol’s Mother’s Day Blessing Bags has grown to the point of having it’s own Facebook page. “There is a core group of volunteers who help with this project, but it was overwhelming to keep up with emailing and texting everyone. I set up the Facebook page to centrally discuss needs and opportunities. It’s been a fun way to keep up with everyone who has helped out and to share information with each other.”

With over 200 members, this Facebook group collects items all year long in preparation of the 250 bags they will give to the mothers and women staying at the Mission on Mother’s Day. Members can download a list of the items she’s collecting to keep with them on shopping trips. Members frequently post about sales and coupons of items that are suitable for the bags.

When asked if anything significant has changed over these past eight years, Carol shared a story from 2009. “I recall the Mission was in the midst of a renovation and all the women were temporarily staying at the men’s campus when I saw a woman carrying her belongings in a black trash bag. It broke my heart. I decided then we were going to collect a reusable bag that each woman could continue to use for other purposes following Mother’s Day.”

Carol’s bags have truly been a blessing, as many of those who show up at the Mission’s doors have nothing but the clothes on their backs. “It could easily be me,” said Carol. “Most of us are one decision away, one paycheck away from being in their shoes. Whether that’s through bad choices, loss of job, an illness, an eviction … it can happen to anyone.”

Carol challenges others to give out of their abundance, as well as their need. “With the quick passing of my husband, I knew I didn’t want to sit around and be depressed,” shared Carol. “I saw this as an opportunity to give out of my need. My need for comfort led to me giving comfort to someone else in need. And in doing so, God filled me in a different way. He tells us that, ‘whatever you do for the least of these,’ you do for Him.”

We are so thankful for Carol and her efforts to bless each and every mother and woman at the Mission with a gift bag. If you would like to help fill a bag, visit www.nashvillerescuemission.org to download a Mother’s Day Wish List.

A God-Sized Dream

A God-Sized Dream

Chelsie’s childhood was far from idyllic. By 13, she was drinking and using drugs. At 17, she was kicked out of school for selling pills. Despite attending an alternative school, Chelsie graduated in the top 20 of her class. She attempted college, and dropped out both times. She married at 19 and had two children by the time she was 22.

“I quit using drugs when I got married,” said Chelsie. “I was clean and sober during my first pregnancy. But by my second pregnancy, I had reverted back to what I knew … prescription drugs. I tried to detox but I simply could not quit.”

When it came time to deliver her son, the Department of Children’s Services (DCS) got involved because of her addiction. Chelsie was devastated at the thought of losing her kids and simply gave up hope. “I left. I abandoned my kids. I got divorced. I had no will to live and did not care what happened to me.”

Eventually, Chelsie checked herself into rehab. But instead of getting the help she needed, Chelsie got involved with someone she met in treatment. This led her down a road of getting addicted to heroin and meth.

The vicious cycle of rehab and relapse was far from over for Chelsie. “There were numerous times when I was in fear for my life,” said Chelsie. “When a man I was seeing set me on fire, I knew I was done. That’s when one of my mom’s co-workers told us about a program her daughter had gone through at Nashville Rescue Mission.”

“I was in jail for failure to pay my child support when I had my phone interview with the Mission’s Life Recovery Program,” recalled Chelsie. “It was a relief when they told me I was accepted. On the day we arrived, we were given a tour of the building, and then my parents left. I remember being frightened. If I didn’t get it right this time, I knew my parents were cutting all ties with me. My addiction had destroyed them. This was their last hope for me.”

Those first few weeks were tough. “I began the program in October 2015,” shared Chelsie. “Two weeks later, I found out I was pregnant. I already had two children taken away from me—I didn’t want to lose this one, too.”

Over time, Chelsie went from seeing God as a punishing God to one who was loving and caring. “I developed a personal relationship with Him,” said Chelsie. “At times I could sense God asking me, ‘If you lose the things that are important to you, are you still going to follow me?’ And when I lost custody of my first two children, it was hard to say yes. But the Mission loved on me, supported me, stood by me, and reminded me … ‘in God’s time.’ In that experience I learned to trust God.”

“I’m so grateful for the Mission,” said Chelsie. “There are few places that will accept pregnant moms who are addicted. I’m not sure where else I could have gone. It really was my last hope.” With classes on topics like anger, boundaries, studying the Bible, and repentance, Chelsie said, “The classes were exactly what I needed. The counselors and life coaches were fantastic. The staff, volunteers, and other participants became my family. When my son Chevy was born, I asked my life coach and the director to be in the delivery room with me.”


“Being Chevy’s mom has made me the happiest person. With my first two kids I didn’t have the spiritual component right in my life. Now that I’ve got that in place … I can focus on my son. I love him. He’s so precious. Today I have a close relationship with my parents. During my graduation speech I was able to thank them for showing me the way. Thanks to them, I know I have eternal life.”

“Nashville Rescue Mission gave me hope. I never had hope before. I thought I would die in my addiction. I never felt valued. Now I am finally okay with me.”

“Today, I have an awesome job,” said Chelsie. “I work for FASHIONABLE, a global company that makes beautiful products by women who have overcome. I do wire wrapping and stamping of the necklaces.

I’m also registered for classes at Volunteer State. I have plans to become an EMT, then a paramedic, and eventually a flight paramedic. “I’ve seen a lot of tragedy in my life … friends dying from suicide, overdose, and crime. It is my hope that once I become an EMT, I can show those struggling that there is another way out. It’s so much easier to dig than it is to climb, but I want people to know they can put down their shovel and start climbing. It’s hard work, but it’s definitely worth it.”

Help Chelsie and other women have a chance to encounter hope.