MAURY COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Two strangers were leading two very different lives until their paths crossed.
“I was a very ordinary person, living a very ordinary life,” Stacy Spencer said. “I was 33 years old, went to college at Belmont, got my degree in tv and film production, graduated and worked in the tv and film industry for 10 years.”
“I was 19 years old. I was addicted to heroin, in and out of rehab programs, just really kind of self destructing,” Rob Rogers said. “On the tail end of that, a friend introduced me to Bill and Stacy Spencer.”
“We met these two 19-year-old young men; we invited them to live with us and they started changing right in front of our eyes,” Spencer said.
“They brought me into their home; they gave me a job I didn’t deserve; they gave me a place to live that I didn’t have to pay for and they treated me with incredible dignity and respect,” Rogers said.
“When I had an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life, I took it. Even if it had only been for one guy, the first two guys, that’s all it had ever been, it would have been worth it,” Spencer said.
That was only the begining of Spencer’s story. In 2004, she and her husband Bill mentored seven men living in their three-bedroom home. They knew it was time to expand and thus, Narrow Gate Foundation was born.
“My husband and I didn’t have children of our own, and we were really wanting to be the kind of people that made a difference in the world,” Spencer said.
Over the past 16 years, more than 400 men, ages 18-25, have come to live at a remote lodge in Williamsport, Tenn. for a tranformative, eight-month experience.
“Every young man that comes in is in a season of life that he’s trying to figure out: ‘how has God made me, what is my purpose on earth and how can I have a life that has meaning?’” Spencer said.
The men immerse themselves in outdoor experiences, woodworking and leatherwoking, studying the Bible and living a life of focused on faith.
“Our hope for every young man that comes to Narrow Gate is that they would discover a life that matters, that they would live a life that matters, that they would go out into the world and make a difference,” Spencer “If we can equip and inspire young men to go out and make a difference, then we can change the world.”
About six years ago the Spencers opened Narrow Gate Trading Company, where some graduates of the program are employed. They make handcrafted goods and take business and leadership classes. Other graduates are working in varying fields across the world.
Rogers’s Christian faith became so strong though his relationship with the Spencers that he’s now working as a pastor.
“The power in Stacy’s story in particular is found in the reality that God can use anyone who’s willing, and if we’ll simply open our hands and say God whatever it is that you want to do, I’ll follow.”
“My hope and dream for everybody that I ever get the privilege to come in contact with is that they know that they’re valued, they’re loved, and that they have a purpose here on earth,” Spencer said. “If I get to play a role in helping them discover that, it gives me purpose in my life every day.”
Spencer is one of four finalists in our Remarkable Women contest. The winner will be headed to New York to see a taping of The Mel Robbins Show.