By Elizabeth Sias
Julie Woodley ran away at age 18 after a childhood of sexual and emotional abuse.
With nothing but a pair an extra pair of jeans and a one-way train ticket, Woodley turned her life around.
Now the founder and director of Restoring the Heart Ministries uses her knowledge and experience to help others who have been abused and helps people heal.
Her next two-day event, “A Journey of Your Heart,” will be held in Cambridge on April 20-21 at Cambridge United Methodist Church, 404 N. Cypress Avenue. Those interested in the event can buy tickets at the Cambridge Bible Book Store. Cost is $35 or $25 for students.
“I absolutely love to see people heal, and to see people love each other,” Woodley said. “I feel like I’m bringing the love of God to all these places and watching God restore lives. I love watching everybody come together.”
Woodley is an expert on the topic of trauma, particularly childhood sexual abuse and post-abortion. For those who have suffered these types of trauma, she has developed two-day healing events that “provide a safe time and place to explore areas where healing from abuses and various trauma is needed and to learn how God designed men and women to get in touch with their own hearts and find peace.”
There are a number of facilitators trained in Woodley’s 10-part DVD series “In the Wildflowers,” on which the two-day healing event is based. During the event, she will take people through pieces of al 10 steps, and if participants want further healing, they’ll have resources right in Cambridge through the trained facilitators.
“Between the steps, we have worship and a packet of questions that you’ll be able to address, questions like ‘Was I abused? What does abuse look like to me?’” Woodley said.
An author, speaker and counselor, Woodley is also the Ministry Outreach Representative for Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center. She holds a Master’s degree in counseling and a certificate in Theological Studies from Bethel Seminary. She is also currently finishing her M.Div., and her Chaplain Training. She is a certified trauma counselor and was ordained in 2000.
It was Woodley’s childhood abuse that took her life in the direction of healing others. Her desire to reach women and men who have experienced childhood sexual abuse came out of her own healing.
“My father was a very violent man and I knew I had to run away to save my life,” she said, explaining her move to Wisconsin and then Minneapolis. “I partied a lot and had a wild lifestyle. I didn’t know how to say no to men. I had a miraculous conversion with God the night I was going to commit suicide. God spoke to me in the middle of the night when I was going to take a bottle of pills. He said he loved me and the voice got louder and louder. He saved my life.”
From that moment, Woodley transformed her life.
“I really wanted to help people in a really powerful way,” she said.
She started speaking, obtained her Master’s degree, and now she has been married 26 years with four children. She lived in Cambridge for nine years before moving to New York with her husband, the former pastor of Cambridge United Methodist Church.
“It’s exciting to come back home again where I started the ministry,” Woodley said.
Her passion and calling is to become involved in the lives of others, helping them to heal from the past.
“I think there’s something so powerful of being in a community with people who accept you, love you and bring you to a healing place,” she said. “I did a lot of this alone, and a lot of this is really based on my journals, the way that God healed me. I feel like I’m bringing people into this process. I’m so thankful because now I’m not afraid to live and I’m not afraid to die.”
A Journey of Your Heart
Restoring the Heart Ministries and Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center offer a two-day healing event facilitated by Julie Woodley for those who have suffered from childhood sexual abuse and other types of trauma.
The event will be held in Cambridge from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 20, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 21, at Cambridge United Methodist Church, 404 N. Cypress Avenue. Those interested in the event can buy tickets at the Cambridge Bible Book Store. Cost is $35 or $25 for students, which covers the workbook, worship, box lunch and healing.
Those interested can register online at www.rthm.cc/wildflowers/wildflowers-training-events.asp. Tickets can also be purchased at the Cambridge Bible Bookstore at 220 Main Street South.