What follows is the edited text of an email sent to Rev. Charles P. Hines, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) by a former prisoner. In the e-mail she describes how God uses mentors to help former prisoners adjust to life in community and avoid returning to prison.
The slam of the cell door. Utter darkness, hopelessness, guilt, shame, and despair. The cold concrete of the cell floor. Complete isolation. Alone. Unlovable. Incapable and broken. On my knees as the tears rolled off the cheeks to a soft splatter on the concrete floor, Bible open, heartbroken. Would God accept such a pathetic example of life? Sin had run its rampant course through the broken lives of others into a broken life of my own.
As the days and years began to unfold, the patient loving hand of the Lord continued to draw. Through divine grace truth began to take root. Days passed to months, months to years. Prison became a safe haven, a shelter, a home. As the clock ticks toward release, the fear and apprehension grow. I can do all things through Christ, and yet, that fear lingers. How?
Through a cell mate, I began corresponding with a woman in Utah. She wrote faithfully. The hands and feet of Christ. My heart melted. Hope was increasingly installed and gratitude was beyond expression! The power of love. The power of God in Christ in her. Mercy and grace displayed in their fullness. Her name was Becky.
As I stepped off the bus the loving arms were there to greet me. God sent an angel. She stood by my side through the long days in prison and walked with me in loving support as I gently re-entered the world. The love alone changed my life!! God had taken care of me and made provision for me. God uses people. He used Becky.
There was no hope when I entered that prison. Today God is moving and working in my life. I live in a home, I own a business, and grace and love that was so freely given to me is now being used in the lives of others.
The single greatest agent of change from the Lord is the life of another who is just willing to love and to believe and to reach out to the inmate. The power of love. My life absolutely would not be where it is today if it had not been for God sending Becky!!!! It is Gods people that are called to make a difference, to change a life, to love the unlovable, to take a risk. Give away what has been so freely given to you. Watch the hand of God weave hope and faith into a life that has none. Be radically transformed!
The Granger RelationShip Ministry is the point of contact for our Re-Entry work in support of Pastor Charles and St. Francis of Assisi Christian Church.