Near to the Heart of God

"There is a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God."

Imagine waking up in a place of peace and safety when all you’ve ever known is fear and pain. Imagine finding out what real love feels like with warm hugs and safe touches when all you’ve known have been betrayal and heartache. Imagine finding out that you deserve to be happy and content and you are God's most valuable jewel after you’ve been told you will never amount to anything and that no one cares how you feel. This is what you will find, near to the heart of God, at Cookie's Retreat Center.

Endorsed by the Upper Columbia Conference and North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC), Polly's Place Ministries Inc. opened Cookie's Retreat Center in December 2002. Our mission is to provide a safe and temporary retreat, Christian counseling, and support services for women and their children who are dealing with domestic violence, abuse and other women’s issues.

Cookie's Retreat Center has had the privilege of sharing the healing touch of Jesus with women from all walks of life. Ranging in ages from 18 to 84, with all income and educational levels and many different faiths, these women come to us from all areas of the United States. Each woman finds her needs met at the foot of the cross as she opens up to His healing love.

A 30-something professional writes, “I felt my life was not worth the living. I just wanted to die. In fact I told my husband that it would have been easier if the Lord had let me die from my cancer a few years earlier than to live with him now. We had been married more than 20 years, but my life was falling apart. I couldn’t take the abuse anymore. Between a good friend, a counselor and, most important, the Lord’s leading, I ended up at Cookie's Retreat Center.

“The place was warm and quiet. I felt the peace as soon as I arrived. After a few days of getting to know the schedule, I began to love it here. I slept most of the first couple of days. I didn’t realize how exhausted I was. Then I started the individual and group counseling. There are such wonderful people here that actually cared about me. It felt so good to not be afraid.

“My life changed. I will never be the same. My husband is in counseling, and we may be able to continue our marriage. But if he is unable to make the necessary changes, I know that I must not stay in the situation any longer. Cookie's Retreat Center gave me the tools to learn how I can stand up for myself. I want to thank the Lord and Cookie's Retreat Center for giving me back my life.”

Our “Comforter Ministry” welcomes the women and their children into this warm family environment. They are taken to the quilt closet, and each one is allowed to choose a beautiful, handmade comforter to keep with them at the center and take with them when they leave. This is just a small reminder of the warmth they learn to accept from our heavenly Comforter. With private rooms, a sunny hobby/playroom, exercise equipment and spacious grounds for walks, gardening and quiet meditation, they are allowed to thrive in the peace and quiet of God’s love. They share in chores and enjoy the friendships that are developed at the family mealtimes in the inviting dining room. With a beautiful prayer loft looking out over the pine trees there is always a place for personal meditation close to God’s nature, even on rainy days.

The women and children stay at Cookie's Retreat Center for up to eight weeks. While here, they receive Christ-centered individual and group counseling, community resource advocacy and educational workshops on topics such as budgeting, nutrition, interpersonal skills and parenting. Cookie's Retreat Center wants to provide services for all women regardless of their financial resources. Therefore sponsorships have been made available through the gifts of caring individuals and organizations with a passion for this ministry.

Cookie's Retreat Center is becoming a valuable resource for pastors, school administrators and other church leaders to turn to when they find a family in crisis.

A pastor serving in one NPUC conference wrote, “I seek to reach out to whomever the Lord brings to our ministry. Many of the people I work with have great spiritual, emotional, physical and relational challenges facing them. Often, our church ministries are able to meet their various needs. However, occasionally we encounter women who have experienced severe damage through neglect, abuse and unhealthy relationships. Many of these struggles require more time and skill than I have to give.

“I praise God for the ministry and work of Cookie’s Retreat Center. Their ministry has been God’s instrument in the dramatic healing for one of our church members.

“Kari* faced some of the most horrendous abuse. She endured physical, emotional and sexual abuse at the hands of her ex-husband for years. During counseling, we came to the point that I could not help her deal with these issues. The issues were so acute that it required counseling skills way above my expertise, and Kari needed the care and guidance of other women. A colleague told me about Cookie’s Retreat Center. I called the center and spoke with the director, Kim Bryan. She described the ministry at Cookie’s and gave me all the information. There was an opening for Kari and a sponsorship.

"I credit the ministry Kari received at Cookie’s Retreat Center for opening the door and helping her move forward in her life spiritually, emotionally, relationally and physically. I could not thank the staff at Cookie's enough for the love and healing they brought to her life.”

There are many ways you can be involved in this awesome ministry. First and foremost we need prayer partners. The center is dedicated to the Lord on a daily basis. Positive Life Radio and many Pathfinder clubs have done food drives. Some churches have a “cookie jar” in their lobby to collect change, and some have put on benefit dinners, plays and auctions so they could send a gift of support. Some share their talents of quilting for the “Comforter Ministry." Others are feeling the blessings of being faithful monthly sponsors. It is caring individuals like you who make it possible for the healing to happen.

Contact information:

Polly's Place Ministries, Cookie's Retreat Center, P.O. Box 19471, Spokane, WA 99219-9471; retreatcenter@ppmin.org; office, (509) 624-6334; 24 hr. crisis line, (509) 624-6333; or toll free, (866) 625-6333.

*Kari is a pseudonym.

November 01, 2003 / Feature