My dreams for life are different than my reality. I never imagined I would be the mother a convict as I had different visions for my son’s future.
However, I cannot deny my reality. The choices made by my son led to his conviction and sentencing to state prison. Lives were devastated, including mine and my family’s.
Until this happened to our family, I admit I never gave much thought to prisoners and their families.
That is – until it happened to me.
After my son’s arrest, there was little support. I turned to my church family who did they best they could, but did not really know what to do. Through my church, I was introduced to one person they knew who had a son incarcerated. That helped tremendously to have one person who understood, but she attended a different church and lived across the city.
By and large, a majority of the people I knew had NEVER been through having a loved one incarcerated. My family, friends, and church body showed me their concern. They encouraged me with the Word of God. They consoled me in the best way they knew how. They just did not understand the emotional trauma caused by someone you love going to prison.
- The pain.
- The grief.
- The loss.
- The devastation.
- The guilt.
- The shame.
- The stigma.
- The embarrassment.
- The sorrow.
My faith in God was tested on a whole new level. At the beginning of this journey, I wrote out my key scripture for this season in our lives:
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NKJV).
Then I cried out, “Lord, this Scripture has been tossed around in Christian circles so often when someone faces trials in their lives. This verse has become a platitude. Nonetheless, it is still Your Word and I ask You to make it real for me and my family.”
Little by little and step-by-step, God has been showing us His grace in my son’s incarceration. And with each step, the Lord gives me enough hope in Him to continue to take the next step.
And the next.
And the next.
At the time of my son’s arrest, I had read the Bible through several times in the past. And as I continued to read the Bible through from cover to cover, I began to notice something different than before.
I realized that the people God used in between the covers of the Bible started out scoundrels. Some of them never did time for their crimes. For example, Moses who murdered an Egyptian man fled to the desert out of fear. Yet after 40 years in the desert, God called Moses to return to Egypt and lead the Israelites out of captivity.
Others in the Bible served prison time for crimes never committed. Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. The slave master’s wife longed for Joseph, but when he refused she accused him of attempted rape. Joseph was sent to prison where he served at least 2 years as prisoner after being a slave for about 11 years. After prison, the Lord raised up Joseph to be second in command to deliver Egypt as well as surrounding countries from a seven-year famine.
Plenty examples exist in the Bible of those who had criminal behaviors, but were raised up to be used in mighty ways by the Lord.
And all throughout the Scriptures we see examples of how God used liars, cheaters, adulterers, womanizers, prostitutes, murderers, thieves, and so on.
Just like those examples in the Bible, when God leads the kind of people often labeled “thugs” and “outcasts” in our society to repentance and changes their hearts, He uses them in significant ways to advance the Kingdom of God.
If God used them—and He is no respecter of persons—He can turn around the life of my son or any criminal who accepts His love for them. Then use them in ways we cannot even imagine to advance the Kingdom of God.
Knowing God chooses “to use the foolish things of this world” in significant ways filled me with hope. The leaders God used in the pages of the Bible are not necessarily the kind we’d vote for office or hire in our businesses. But God used them—and He still uses restored lives today!
Once I truly grasped the concept that God sees all lives worth redeeming, my broken heart over what happened with my son began to heal. The Lord showed me His perfect love. He showed me hope for a future for my son and for my family.
Through my grief and healing process, my heart has been drawn to other hurting families. Often I’m introduced to other hurting moms or wives with loved ones incarcerated. Just like I was, these families are suffering in silence as there’s not support for the prisoners of families.
Families of prisoners have very few places to turn for direction, support, or encouragement. So most of them keep silent about the situation due to the negative stigma attached.
In order to change that, by God’s wild grace and His infusion of courage in me, I am sharing my story publicly.
God has now given me a new dream … a dream to build a community where families of the incarcerated can find support, hope, help, healing, and restoration we have in Christ Jesus.
Thus far I’ve learned that families who remain strong in the Lord and pray for their incarcerated loved ones, make a significant difference for the family member behind bars. As family on the outside, we need to show those inside that God loves them, we love them, and there is hope in Christ!
To start off this new God-given dream, I have set up a closed Facebook group for families and friends of prisoners. This is a group where we pray for one another, share positive encouragement, and biblical teachings relevant for our situation for spiritual growth.
If you are on Facebook and would like to be part of this group, click the link below to send a request to join.
Besides the Facebook group, I’m wrapping up the draft manuscript of a prayer book specifically for prisoners and their families.
Starting in January 2017, as I edit the rough draft, I will begin sending out a bi-monthly (perhaps weekly) email subscription based newsletter with content from the prayer book manuscript, articles, and teaching content directed for the needs of prison families.
To join the email list, fill out the form below.
The newsletter “The (Re)Source” is now falls under the 501(c)3 Non-profit Fortress of Hope Ministries, Inc. Please click here subscribe to the weekly Fortress of Hope blog posts.
Blessings in Christ our Lord!