For many people, one of their greatest desires and yet biggest disappointments is a complete lack of meaningful work. Not so for Christine Ourada, Director of Women and Children’s Ministries for Portland Rescue Mission.
Take a tour with her at Shepherd’s Door, listen to her talk at Jubilee (the women’s New Life Ministry graduation ceremony), or simply sit down and chat with her, and within minutes she’ll tell you how much she loves her job.
“Seeing a life transformed gives me life. I like to call this ministry my raw, messy ministry,” Christine said. “It’s like rubbing shoulders with Jesus every single day.”
Walking with women as they journey toward recovery takes patience and wisdom. For Christine, it’s an opportunity to help women be real about their faults, face their fears, heal from trauma, learn to forgive, change their thinking and build trusting relationships.
Christine joined Portland Rescue Mission a little less than three years ago, and from her very first day to now, the joy for what she does is yet to disappear. The recovery process can be grueling to navigate with struggles and setbacks. But Christine celebrates the daily growth she sees and many uplifting success stories along the way.
“We have a lot of court cases dropped here involving the women because of the life transformation that takes place with them here at Shepherd’s Door,” she said. “It’s amazing! Those who are involved with their cases will see where these women are when they first come in, and then witness how changed they are when they return to their cases.”
Christine goes on to point out that the reasons for this includes everything from how well they speak, to how well they represent themselves, to a totally new sense of responsibility not present before taking part in the New Life Ministry program. The change is dramatic.
“I’ve seen so many moms reunited with their kids as a result,” she emphasized.
The beginning of Christine’s journey began back in high school in Cottage Grove when she accepted Jesus Christ at Young Life. Around that same time, she got to know a man at the local bakery where she worked, and eventually married him just two days after turning 18—against her parent’s wishes. Not long after that, she found out he was a drug dealer.
As the years went on, she too ended up getting caught up in that lifestyle.
“During that whole journey, God never stopped pursuing me,” she said. “He ended up doing some remarkable things and rescued me.”
Christine eventually ended up raising her three daughters by herself (two biological and one she adopted at age 7). Her ministry ventures started at Mountainview Christian Church where she led a couple of ministries for awhile before helping start Harvest Christian Church and getting even more involved.
Once her daughter got married and moved down to California, she followed suit and headed down south as well and started directing a smaller, but similar program to Shepherd’s Door.
“God has always kept me on this trajectory of being involved in ministry,” she said.
Despite the early detours in her life, God’s guidance eventually led Christine to take the helm at Shepherd’s Door. She’s been currently serving as the Director of Women and Children’s Ministry for the last two and a half years.
“One of the coolest things I get to do is stand up and tell these women there’s nothing God can’t do for them. I’m a walking testimony to that,” she reiterated. “God’s economy is different than everyone else’s economy. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Talk with her further, and the joy for what she does is overwhelmingly evident.
“I love this organization. I love the way that it’s put together. I love our overarching vision. I love the team. I love the whole concept of building somebody up and taking them from homelessness to a point where they’re transformed and actually serving other people. I love it all,” she exclaimed.
And it’s safe to say, with people like Christine on staff, our ministry at Portland Rescue Mission continues to flourish as a result.