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hen Columbus’ 39-year-old Kyla Covington slipped into despair late last year, she knew two ideas clearly.
“My life was a train wreck,” she said. “And I knew I needed God.”
Amid addiction to pain pills and a theft conviction that landed her in the Bartholomew County Jail, Covington found divine love. It showed up in the person of Columbus’ Pam Hull, a woman who feels called to help women find wide-ranging healing through Christian fellowship and mentoring.
“I eventually knew I had God with me,” Covington said. “But it helped to have someone in person to encourage me.”
Encouragement is among the hallmarks of Hull’s Iron Aprons Women’s Ministry, providing common-sense biblical guidance to support Christian females aiming to live Godly lives. Sometimes, some of the women Hull meets are like Covington, picking up the pieces of their life after tragedy, trauma, mistakes or pain.
Some simply need the regular connection of fellow believers.
The two-year-old, nonprofit, nondenominational Christian ministry takes its name from a feminine association of aprons and also from Proverbs 27:17: “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”
What does that mean?
“Sometimes we need to have truth spoken into our lives so that we can become the person God wants us to be,” Hull said. “Iron Aprons Women’s Ministry is a place where this can be accomplished in love and humility — and sometimes through the tears of the one speaking it.”
That loving confrontation, normally private, done with the permission of the group member and separate from weekly Bible study meetings, is intended as encouragement, and never condemnation, said Hull, who was nurtured and mentored by a strong Christian woman more than 20 years ago.
Hull knows from her own experience in her teens and 20s of drug use, promiscuity, bulimia, physical abuse and thoughts of suicide that guilt and shame can be formidable opponents, often driving people deeper into problem behavior.
“Until my early 20s, no one said anything good about me,” she said, believing she was what she termed “white trash.”
That shame explains why she points women to hope she found through God in Scripture — and a spiritual identity of righteousness and stability.
“Our past does not define us,” Hull said before a recent Iron Aprons meeting in temporary space at Blessed Life Fellowship on National Road in Columbus. “And what other people say about us does not define us. Not even our bad choices define us.
“Only what God says about us (in the Bible) should define us.”
Columbus’ Heidi Cooley, 30, understands that. She has battled fear of rejection, addiction to pills, and excessive people pleasing. Her six months of attending Iron Aprons’ meetings taught her one lesson quickly.
“Everyone here is very real,” Cooley said.
Columbus’ Sue Oliphant, 65, knows why she attends meetings regularly, even though her life is going reasonably well.
“Because you can feel the love here,” Oliphant said. “Pam is a very, very good listener. She listens to absolutely everything you have to say. And I never have to worry about anything said confidentially in here going outside of here.”
Oliphant is among local women who were part of some of Hull’s Bible studies a few years ago. She mentioned that Hull’s ability to take a misguided past and use it for good today reminds her of national Christian teacher Joyce Meyer.
“Because of that past,” Hull said, “I can speak to women as someone who once sat where some of them are now.”
Others such as Covington eventually want to do that, too — and Hull is encouraging that as a biblical concept.
“I once was in a really bad position,” Covington said. “I went through a lot of bad stuff and got the T-shirt. Now, I want to help other people.”
Part of helping women can involve assisting them in adjusting their focus through a basic Christian perspective.
Hull posted the following recently on the ministry’s Facebook page: “So many women want a man to save them. A man did save you — 2,000 years ago on a cross.”
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