In 2009, Marion Cozens established a refuge shelter for homeless pregnant women with the fierce intention to build broken women into healthy parents. Marion, a business woman and single parent of four daughters, renovated her personal residence and sought formal shelter status. WINGS’ mandate is as clear as its bright pink font on its website:
“We are a home for homeless, displaced, pregnant women who need to be loved, nurtured, encouraged and supported…WINGS provides food, clothing, individual counselling and helps facilitate medical care, childbirth/parenting classes, mandatory participation in education at our NEST Day School, practical life skills lessons and independent living skills training.“
WINGS’ vision is framed by Psalm 91:1-4:
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the LORD : He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust Him. For He will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with His feathers. He will shelter you with His wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Many of us have read this psalm to calm our children’s fears at night. Perhaps, like myself, you have read this psalm before going into foreign nations, as a promise of God’s protection.
Marion read this psalm and rolled up her sleeves to bring it.
Instead of blithely expecting the heavens to rain down care, shelter, safety for mothers in crisis, Marion renovated her home, opened her doors and ushered in the broken, the addicted, the abandoned and the abused, certain of God’s love and willing to pour out practical compassionate support to those who came through her door.
Since that first yes, forty-three mothers have journeyed through WINGS from all walks of life. At least fifty more mothers in the community have been encouraged, counselled, educated and ministered to with the love of Christ. Countless families have been impacted, as volunteers and residents alike are changed by this remarkable champion.
Quite frankly, WINGS Maternity Home is changing the world, one life, one family at a time.
This year WINGS doubled in impact as Marion renovated her garage to host a larger classroom to support the NEST Day School. From September to June, two certified teachers support fourteen students who earn high school credits in partnership with the Independent Learning Centre.
I have volunteered as one of those teachers since January 2015 and just came on staff full-time until June. This past year, I have seen firsthand how intentional love can change a life.
Psalm 91: 5-10 states
Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. Just open your eyes, and see how the wicked are punished. If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home.
Many of these women find Christ through the shelter offered at WINGS. After a long life of broken promises, they finally find a person who keeps her word and their eyes are opened to God’s kindness. As we trust in others, we move closer to trusting God. This continuum of Christian love in action shifts the heart to reach for God. With the choice to surrender to God, families are forever shifted to good.
For myself, teaching at the NEST Day School is deeply redemptive. Back in 1990, I found myself alone, unsupported, pregnant and distressed in my last year of university. I remembered how I struggled with deep shame and the fear that I could never be a good mother, given how I had messed up my life. I didn’t know where to go, what to do. I considered adoption to be my only choice. Then, as my final semester neared completion, my brother, Mark, quietly called and asked, “Hey, Jenny. I want to be an uncle. Tracy (his wife) and I have room if you need a place to live. Come live in Oshawa.”
Mercy flooded my life with that quiet offer of shelter. I moved to Oshawa, birthed my beautiful daughter, a precious blue-eyed delicate rose whose breath smelt like heaven and began to build our life. I upgraded my university as night, worked as an educational assistant for three years during the day and entered teacher’s college when my daughter was five. My parents helped financially whenever they could but poverty was a close companion during those early years.
In 1993, a kind woman named Liz Joseph and her husband, Phil had reached out with love to me and my little daughter. She was our daycare provider; soon they and their three kids became family. They had us over for roti, invited us to church, fixed my car, celebrated our birthdays and gently offered needed parenting advice. When my daughter was just two, I accepted Christ. Love had come down through my brother, my parents, through Liz. Through their mercy and kindness, I found God.
Psalm 91:11-16 celebrates the intimate partnership between our God and His kids:
For He will order His angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”
When Marion chose to answer God’s call to open a shelter, she trusted God to make it good. In Psalm 91, God promises that He will rescue those who love Him. He promises to protect those who trust in His greatness, His revelation, His power. He promises to be with them in trouble, right there at your side, not backing up. He promises honour and rescue for those who live in trust and obedience to Him. He promises to reward those who love Him with a long life, to give them an abundant life, rich in blessing.
Psalm 91 is Marion’s day to day reality. She has marched into crack houses looking for her pregnant mother and no drug dealer dared blocked her entrance. She has advocated for disenfranchised mothers with government agencies to ensure fair treatment. She established a blessing room, stocked with clothing and baby equipment by the community as donations of items arrive weekly. This petite fiery woman accomplishes more in one day than most of us do in a month. Marion is deeply loved by her faith community, well-known and respected in the business sector and duly regarded by governmental agencies.
Marion lives as a testimony to Psalm 91, that if we love God, God can do amazing things through our lives.
Marion shows off God every day.
I am blessed to call her my friend.
Let’s Pray: Lord Jesus, You said that we who believe, would do even greater things than You. Lord Jesus, that You are the Head and we are Your Body here on this earth. May we live as Your hands and feet, Yours eyes and Your heart. May Love come down through us to those in need today. Holy Spirit, provoke us to lay hold of the Word and work it, as Marion has. Father, thank You for the gift of Your Word, for the promises in Psalm 91, for the truth of Your Shelter. We rest in You, in Your love, in deep worship of Your mercy and grace to us all. Amen.
This Week’s Reading: Psalm 66-91
Next Week’s Reading: Psalm 92 – 125
- What Psalm grabbed hold of you this week? How did it impact your walk with God?
- We have all had trials. When you look back, can you see the kindness of God shown through others?
- We are Christ’s vessels to bring love to this earth. Pray and ask God for the right opportunity, then ask Him for the first step. Just do it.
- Read the Message version of Psalm 91. Can you hear God talking? Then, worship Him today in any way you choose.
You who sit down in the High God’s presence,
spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,
Say this: “God, you’re my refuge.
I trust in you and I’m safe!”
That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps,
shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you—
under them you’re perfectly safe;
his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night,
not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness,
not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around,
drop like flies right and left,
no harm will even graze you.
You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God’s your refuge,
the High God your very own home,
Evil can’t get close to you,
harm can’t get through the door.
He ordered his angels
to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they’ll catch you;
their job is to keep you from falling.
You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes,
and kick young lions and serpents from the path.
“If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God “I’ll get you out of any trouble. I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me. Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party, I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!”
Psalm 91, The Message