At four months pregnant, Brett went in for her normal checkup to find out if her baby was a boy or a girl. She found out—a girl—but she found out something else too. “We found out that she had a hole in her heart,” Brett said. “We were sent to a specialist in Huntsville.” That specialist gave the hole a name and told them their little girl had a cleft lip and palate and radial dysplasia, or a club hand. He also told Brett and her husband that their daughter would never survive outside the womb without long-term care.
“This was happening whether we were prepared for it or not,” Brett said. A few months later, she had her daughter, Isla, at UAB Hospital. Isla was immediately rushed to Children’s Hospital of Alabama where she would remain for many months. “We wanted to be close to our daughter, but we couldn’t get any rest in her room,” she said. “A couple of days in, we were brought the information about Red Mountain Grace from a social worker.” It was a godsend for Brett.
Red Mountain Grace was established in 2013 and provides housing for out-of-town patients and caregivers during their extended medical stays in Birmingham. “Birmingham is known for its world-class medical centers,” said Jason Carroll, Brook Hills member and founder of Red Mountain Grace. “This means people from all over the U.S. and the world are coming to our city, often times to receive long-term treatment. But this also means that their families and support systems are often times far away and need affordable options to be near their loved ones.” Red Mountain Grace estimates that there are at least 30-40 families who are sleeping in hospital waiting rooms or paying for expensive extended stay hotels in the city of Birmingham each night. Medical diagnoses are overwhelming for families to face, and the added stresses, complications, and expenses of extended travel for patient care often amount to a sense of hopelessness, further complicated by the disconcerting feeling of temporary homelessness.
Through the past six years, Red Mountain Grace has provided housing for 450 families coming to Birmingham for cancer treatment, transplants, and other long-term medical treatment. The ministry started with two apartments and now has 18 apartments that are adopted by individuals or groups who not only help pay for rent, but also show the love of Christ to families living in the apartments. Volunteers from churches like The Church at Brook Hills and other local fellowships bring food to the families, decorate the apartments, and care for the families in order to make them feel at home and supported. Through this community, the gospel is put on full display and believers have the opportunity to share the gospel with many who have never heard it before.
2 Corinthians 5:14 says, “For the Love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”
It is Christ and what he has accomplished in his death and resurrection that orients our lives. It steers the believer in a different direction than the rest of the world. The ultimate display of love is the sacrifice Christ made by giving his life for sinners so they could be made right before God. And those who are in Christ, no longer live for themselves—they actually die to themselves and sacrifice because Christ compels us to live for the sake of others knowing him. This is how God has oriented the ministry of Red Mountain Grace—to be not only a home away from home for those who are facing their darkest days, but also to be a people who, because of the love that has been shown to them through Christ, willfully and joyfully sacrifice time, resources, and their lives so that peace and rest in Christ might be found.
For Brett, the fully furnished apartment “felt like a little piece of home”—a welcome rest amid their “heartbreaking” reality. She ended up staying there for seven months. During those seven months her family not only had a place to call home, but they were surrounded by a community of believers who served their family and showed them the gospel in a real, tangible way. She said Red Mountain Grace stood in the fire for her and her family. “We’re so thankful for Red Mountain Grace and their generosity and their love,” she said.
Red Mountain Grace is a partner with The Church at Brook Hills, where many members volunteer to care for guests of Red Mountain Grace. There are many ways to get involved and partner. Volunteers are often found providing meals to families in guest apartments, decorating new guest apartments, and preparing apartments to be ready between guests. Many opportunities exist for volunteers to visit with guest families in the hospital or at their apartment on a regular basis. The Apartment Adopters help Red Mountain Grace open new apartments and welcome more patients and families for years to come. Through the generous gifts of time and resources, and by God’s grace, Red Mountain Grace continues to offer the comforts of home to patients and their families and extend grace at a time when it is needed most.
Visit redmountaingrace.com to learn more about the need in our city and discover ways to partner.