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.