TESTIMONY AND MINISTRY EXPERIENCE
I made a profession of faith at a young age, and as I became a teenager, followed through on that commitment as I began to fully understand what God was calling me to in a relationship with Him. At 14 I surrendered my life to Christ and made the commitment to follow Him wherever and into whatever He would have me do with my life, for His Kingdom and His glory.
I had the privilege of being raised in a Christian home – more than that, a godly home – as the daughter of a pastor who had a burden and a heart for those suffering from life dominating problems. Being homeschooled, I essentially grew up in church ministry and soon recognized my own calling to help women who are struggling in life.
When I was 10 my family moved to Gaffney, South Carolina, where my father was the Executive Director of a homeless shelter. Two years later God called us back to Virginia, where my father became the pastor at the church we had previously left. At that time, the church felt God calling them to open an in-house rehabilitation program for those in our community suffering with addictions and life dominating problems. We opened Lifeline (then called Victory Home) in 2003, when I was just 13. I helped with what I could at such a young age, but felt myself drawn more and more into learning how to help the people who were in our program learn how to follow Jesus and overcome the obstacles of life that they kept tripping over.
At 16, I was employed by Lifeline in an administrative role and learned a lot about the ins-and-outs and everyday business that has to happen to keep a ministry open. I also gained experience in the thrift store, both as management and as the coordinator of our donation pickups. I was involved with scheduling and coordinating work projects such as handyman jobs, lawn care, and other similar types of business that we did in the community, and I was an administrative assistant responsible for staff scheduling, creating and implementing filing systems, creating and implementing office procedures. In addition, over the years I was responsible for branding and design of all our literature.
After high school, I was offered an opportunity to intern under my father, the executive director, which I did in conjunction with correspondence counseling courses form the Institute for Nouthetic Studies in Greenville, South Carolina. I completed the 2-year internship and was offered the position of the night supervisor for our ladies’ home.
For over 3 years I was the in-house supervisor and worked hands-on with the women in our program, teaching them life skills, relationship skills, and most importantly, teaching them how to follow Christ. I was responsible for teaching three to five classes a week, leading relationship building activities, one-on-one and group mentoring, management of the house (coordinating schedules, chores, enforcing curfew, etc.), and of course, the inevitable conflict resolution that would be required when having 5 women in one house! Within 6 months in this position, I was promoted to the title of Women’s Program Director, working half-days and nights.
After nearly 4 years, we hired another overnight supervisor, and I transitioned to a full day shift. My responsibilities increased, as I began to do more one-on-one counseling, curriculum development, and creating individualized treatment plans for our clients. The program consisted of anywhere from 3 to 15 ladies at a time. I was also responsible for hiring support staff for the ladies’ ministry, which included training, coaching, and mentoring as they learned how to supervise and hold people accountable while pointing them to Christ. My staff included night supervisors, day supervisors, and a case management specialist.
In my time as Women’s Director, I worked with ladies of all ages and various problems, including cutting, food disorders, drug and alcohol addictions, sexual addictions, dysfunctional family issues, codependency, depression, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, bi-polar, and many other mental disorders and life problems.
I was also responsible for coordinating with law enforcement, probation offices, and the courts to maintain a healthy working relationship to ensure that our clients submitted to whatever requirements may have been imposed upon them, as we often had court-ordered clients. This meant sending in regular reports, preforming drug screens, and at times attending court to testify.
We also coordinated with doctors’ offices, therapists, and social workers as necessary to ensure clients received proper care while in our ministry, as many were on a regular regiment of psychotropic medicines, which we did not prescribe or provide. When a client finished the program, we connected them with certain resources and offered training for them to become independent by teaching them work ethic, money management, parenting classes, and other support as necessary.
In 2015, I was part of a team of 3 directors to restructure the entire program, which included identifying and creating a completely new curriculum, counseling/teaching schedules, progress markers, requirements for completion, rules, and structure that would enhance the success of our clients.
In the fall of 2016, my father, still the Executive Director, began the process of training me to take his place within 3 years, as he began to have health issues and felt God directing him to focus on his pastoral ministry. Unfortunately, in January of 2017, the Lord called my father home to Heaven after complications from routine surgery. At that time, being the highest ranking staff and having already begun training to take over the ministry, I stepped into the role of Executive Director.
Unfortunately, due to some moral issues, we lost three of our 10 staff within the first two months of 2017; shortly after, 2 others left. While those of us that remained worked hard to carry on the ministry of Lifeline, we began to realize God was not allowing us to succeed. After 14 years in the community, we decided to close our doors in the spring of 2018.
In 2016 Lifeline was the subject of a TV show that highlights ministries around the country. I’ve included links to my interview, as well as the 30-minute show, to perhaps give you more illumination into our ministry, my experience, and my passion.
Lifeline TV special: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Op-gudJOTo
Bethany Ellis Harris – Full interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdG6ct5hwDY
Pastor Mike Ellis (CEO) – full interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBIzlcUFnV0&t=1273s
I have three core beliefs at the heart of my ministry: Personal Responsibility, the Gospel, and Accountability.
Who am I? In a word: passionate.
About Jesus, church, ministry, music, reading, family, friends,
and sometimes even iced skinny soy mochas (don't judge me).
Biblical counselor, teacher, and mentor to women of all ages.
Music is wonderful, studying is fun, and relationships are the best.