A Woman's Word Of

The Lord is great and greatly to be praised!  It never ceases to amaze me how on time our God is, or how gracious He is to those who seek His face.  I am one of those seekers.  I could not fathom living my life without Jesus it.  Every moment.  Every day.

My journey through the Department of Corrections has been nothing, if not miraculous.  As I have stuck to God like glue, He has blessed me beyond measure with mentors and fellowship through my participation in New Beginnings’ ministry.  Over the years, He has poured out His favor upon my life, gifting me beyond my wildest dreams with song and writings—opportunity that defied the environment and experience of prison life.

Through it all, God chose to whittle away at my sentence, as I stayed focused on His Word and work for me.  First, the life sentence I was given twenty-four years ago was changed to a forty-year sentence.  Next, that sentence was changed to a twenty-year sentence.  Eventually, although I confessed from the beginning to having committed the crime for which I was sentenced, God chose to free this guilty child of God from inside the walls of prison.

Now I write from beyond the razor wire that I was originally sentenced to die behind.  Throughout the incarceration, I have experienced the light of Christ through the presence of the leadership of New Beginnings.  They have walked with me and helped to guide me in my faith journey.  Nurtured by their love and light, New Beginnings’ chaplains have fed me manna in a prison wilderness that destroys the soul, and does not restore it.

I now live outside the prison walls in a halfway house.  I know this is a miraculous gift from God.  I am using this gift to work with a ministry on the outside of prison.  I believe I am working to feed God’s kingdom both inside and out of the prison walls.  I have been offered such grace; I can only now honor the king of kings, the Lord of Lords, with my heart, my soul and the talents given to me.

The way God weaves His plans together is beyond belief!  Only God can orchestrate such perfection.

I claim no credit for anything God has done in my life.  All glory goes to Him.  However, I will say this: when we stay focused on God, He stays focused on us, opening doors no one on earth can keep shut forever.  He prepares a way in the wilderness where the thirsty walk one step at a time.

It is not what we see that builds us up.  It is what we don’t see.  The way God works in the silent times, the painful times, the dark times, continues to astound me.  God is in it all, through it all. 

There is no way that I would be where I am today, outside the prison walls, having the purpose in life to work for God’s coming reign if it were not for the light that was offered to me through New Beginnings Church.  While “inside”, I was infused weekly with elements of faith, love, and courage—all of which are necessary when one is called to be about the business of God.

The fellowship that I found in New Beginnings fed me then and continues to feed me now as I think of the women still inside on Friday evenings when I know they are worshipping.  The fellowship we shared taught this child of God more than I could have ever hoped for.

The preparation for life beyond the razor wire is accomplished through Christ in the incredible ministry of New Beginnings Church. 

Praise and glory to God in the highest for His blessing upon this church!

In Him,

Jennifer

3 comment(s)

Written by Darby cade
I met Jennifer in what I refer to as "college" at DWCF. Her light was always so bright Jennifer you are a true testament that God is mercifull and forgiving. That is the one thing us girls have a hard time with, forgiving ourselves when God forgave us before we asked. New beginnings church fed my sole. I'm so happy to see it has continued to feed the souls of my sisters.
Written by Denise ahrens
Loved your word Jen. You are an have always been an inspiration to me. I am in awe of God and His work...He sees freedom everywhere.
Written by Jenna
Thanks for sharing Jennifer!

Who Is God to You?

Me? God is my lifejacket-custom fitted to hold me tight.

He keeps me afloat in a vast ocean of loneliness.

He is with me when the waters rise. 

 I can fight the waters even while wearing my lifejacket.

Wind will still blow the salty ocean waters in my mouth.

My legs will still get tired.

I can panic, freak out and let fear overtake me.

Even with the lifejacket holding to my chest,

always having my back,

I can go with the other option God gives me.

Be still and know I am God.

God is my lifejacket.

~Irene 

Amanda's Story

On December 24, 2014, almost one year ago today, I decided it was time to give my life to Christ.  I was still weighing different options on church services, still trying to figure out how to “walk the walk”.

A couple months later, Pastor Terry began a Forgiveness Class.  This class not only taught me what it means to forgive, it gave me a chance to really meet the pastor.  One Monday after class, I asked about joining the choir.  She got an enormous smile and with more excitement than I ever expected, she said, “Yes, come join us!”

That Friday, I went to practice.  I was greeted by women who were more welcoming than people I’ve known for years.  The volunteers were just as appreciative of us as we are of them.  I met real genuine people.  By the beginning of service, I knew this was where I belonged.

            Since then, Pastor Terry has given some of us the opportunity to join an Inside Council.  Since becoming a part of something that truly is such an extraordinary blessing, I have begun learning how to become a better person.  I’ve learned how to be compassionate, how to be considerate and nonjudgmental.  I’ve begun learning how to manage responsibility.

            The best part of this church is US!  Each of us is what makes this church.  As women in prison, we become broken and sometimes almost non-repairable.  We are all the same--children searching for love, for comfort, for understanding.  We are searching for a relationship with Christ because that one relationship will always and forever be unconditional. 

            I have poured my heart into this church.  It has completely changed things in my life.  I’ve learned how to have faith, to believe in myself and in the salvation we are offered by the death of Christ.  I believe in God.

            We all know that none of us are perfect.  We all clearly sin.  We are full of guilt, sorrow and anger.  We all fear so much more than we are willing to admit.  Sometimes, I question with all the mistakes I’ve made, am I really worth all the effort God puts into me?

            When I ask myself this question, I think back on the Friday night services.  I think about the pastor, the choir, the congregation and volunteers.  I am always reminded of a smile, a thoughtful gesture, a sweet hello, and a “see you next week”.  And through each of these, I know that God exists and he shows us his heart through each of these people.

            Each day is a new experience for me.  I feel either a new feeling, or one that I’ve forgotten.  I’ve learned to cry out of joy, to laugh and smile without hiding things underneath.  Let me just say that is so awesome!

            New Beginnings really has become my church.  I am leaving prison soon.  Pastor Terry will “bless me out” during a service and the women will pray for me and for my sure footing when I leave.  New Beginnings helped me to find that footing and has helped me to keep it when I begin to fall.  I give thanks to the pastor, the choir, the congregation and the volunteers for helping me and offering me a better chance when I leave.

~Amanda