27 Sep 2018 Set Free from Behind Bars
Ruby (not her real name) has been in prison over 20 years. She has been meeting with Charlene, a volunteer from Northshore’s Prison Ministry, since 2009. During that time, Ruby has committed her life to the Lord and has become a changed person, so much so that “it seems like the only thing that’s the same is her name,” says Charlene.
Ruby describes Charlene as “My friend, mentor, and mother figure. A blessing from God.” She says, “I look forward to her visits. She is the only consistent, reliable, and non-judgmental person to me. Charlene and I clicked right away, like God’s hand was in it, and now today, I know it was with the blessing of God, working His miracles in my life. And she planted seeds that the Lord wanted her to. And years later, with her weeding, cultivating, and guidance, I am a walking testimony of what God can and will do if you believe.”
I am a walking testimony of what God can and will do if you believe.
“When circumstances came where I couldn’t visit with Charlene, like when I was in segregation and the mental unit, or even when Charlene was sick, a part of me felt incomplete. But knowing that the next month would be coming and the joy of knowing Charlene will come to see me, I could look forward to these visits.
“I am not judged. I am loved for me,” Ruby says. “I can be me, honest, sharing my problems for prayer, sharing family pictures, and hearing about her life—to be a part of her life as well. I don’t feel like I’m in prison when we visit. It’s like we’re two friends. I get prayer, I get stories of life’s experiences, how God has and is working in her life. And as I talk, she has opened my eyes to how the Lord has worked in mine.
“To laugh, cry, and just be with Charlene is like fuel for my month. I get recharged for another month. Even to this day, when I feel down and out or feel discouraged, I sometimes try to imagine what Charlene would tell me, a mom figure I’ve never had.
I don’t feel like I’m in prison when we visit.
“I have God now, and He’s working miracles in my life. Regardless of where I am physically, my mind, heart, and soul belong to the Lord. I believe today because Charlene has helped and guided me to the truth. She loved me until I loved myself. I will one day pray like her and am honored to be her friend, and I am blessed that the Lord put her in my life. I am grateful for the Lord’s hands in picking Charlene for me. I need my visits with Charlene— the one day a month I am not judged, I am not condemned. The one day I have joy and fellowship with love and friendship. I feel like a human, a person loved, not an inmate.”
For more info about getting involved in the prison ministry, contact Carry Mattocks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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