Article by: Suzanne R. Holsomback
Truett Seminary student, Carol Raines Raulston, was born in Galveston, Texas at a hospital operated by the French Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. Carol says, "The word sent by the Bishop to [the sisters] was this: 'Our Lord Jesus Christ, suffering in the persons of a multitude of sick and infirm of every kind, seeks relief at your hands.'" Smiling, Carol comments, "Little did I know of how this was a sign of what my life would be."
Life for Carol revolves around people and caring for the "sick and infirm of every kind." Every day is an opportunity to bring relief to those around her and she lives each day to its fullest. Besides having five sons including two sets of twins ranging in ages from fourteen to eighteen, Carol is a hospice chaplain, supply preacher at Abbott Methodist Church in Abbott, Texas, the executive director of Hearts of Hope of Hill County, a member of a gospel choir, and an associate chairperson for the Salvation Army in Hill County.
Experiences in Carol's childhood and early adult life shaped her present ministry direction. She grew up in a non-Christian home, but found her way to church and Christian community through friends and neighbors. During her life she passed through the doors of Catholic, Baptist, Assembly of God, Non-Denominational, Four Square Non-Denominational, and Methodist churches. This variety of church denominations gave Carol a wide base of experience from which she now ministers to many different people, especially in her current position as a hospice chaplain. She says, "I have a very diverse background in several denominations which helps in hospice care because the patients come from all different backgrounds. Instead of having a view that is Baptist that looks one certain way, I have this broad view so I can understand how they think and why they respond the way they do. I can respond in a way they need and not from one little piece." She laughs and adds, "I am one of those people that can pray the rosary in tongues!"
Carol is also the founder and director of Hearts of Hope of Hill County, a non-profit for domestic violence victims. Carol began Hearts of Hope while working with the Salvation Army and engaging with numerous women who were abused. Seeing her pastor counsel the women stirred within her an interest in pastoral care and counseling. She also attributes two personal experiences as guiding her into working with abused women. When she was sixteen, she was sexually harassed and assaulted by a neighbor. Not until her mother found her hiding in the bathroom did Carol disclose her secret and allowed her mother and grandmother to take proactive steps in ending the threat.
Her second experience began when she was a young woman. While in high school, an ex-Hell's Angel moved into her neighborhood and began a house church. Carol describes the church as something comparable to a cult where the pastor had total authority. Carol says, "[I was] indoctrinated with the idea that if you did what the pastor said it pleased God and me wanting to please God so bad, I did what he said." Pleasing the pastor led her to attend community college instead of Baylor, be a business major instead of pursuing ministry, and entering an arranged marriage.
Carol says, "I was in a marriage to a man where I was being treated a certain way I did not want to be treated and I wanted out.... The end point is that God stepped in and delivered the whole church from that man, removed him and removed us from that situation. But what that left me in was a marriage that was an abusive situation - at the time I did not know it was an abusive situation. I thought it was normal, marital rape that went of for several years...I went through eighteen years of thinking this is what I am supposed to do until God brought me into starting my own organization for domestic violence victims and in all this studying I read an article in a counseling magazine that laid out what marital rape was and I was sitting there thinking, 'this is me, this is what I am living.'"
With Hearts of Hope, Carol found freedom from her abuse and abuser. She also found healing in the safety of a healthy, loving church. She says those experiences established the foundation and tone for Hearts of Hope where women can realize the abuse in their own situations. As Carol mended her broken soul, she began to recover her broken dreams as well. "God has brought me through some bad things and restored some dreams and created some things." One of those dreams was attending seminary and devoting her entire life to ministry.
Carol is now in her second year at Truett Seminary, and lives her whole life in ministry. God is fulfilling her dreams and continues to surprise her with new directions for her life. Little did Carol know that the sick and infirmed seeking relief would find rest with her.