When my son Roger was arrested in 2001, I felt so helpless and had difficulty seeing through my pain. But the Lord showed me that He could use even the most painful experience of my life for His purposes.
My son was incarcerated, and I had no idea how to help him. Nor was I giving my 12-year-old daughter the attention she desperately needed. Thank God, He brought me a wonderful husband (now of 16 years) to help me get through this hardship and maintain a right mindset for our family life.
I rededicated my life to Jesus Christ and began seeking God in prayer like never before. I knew I would need more than I had in and of myself to get through this trial. I began reading my Bible faithfully, seeking to understand who God really is. For the first time, I believed God’s Word to be wholly true. God’s peace strengthened me for the journey ahead.
I wrote to my son three times a week at the county jail, sharing with him everything I was learning from scripture. He began letting other inmates read his letters.
One day he called and said that one of the guys there wanted to know if I could write to him too, to share God’s Word. My spirit said yes, but Satan whispered that I didn’t know enough of God’s Word to help anyone else. I prayed to God and then another thought came to my mind: “Write him what you do know.”
So I started writing. It was amazing how God used me in the midst of my own pain to comfort others. And in doing so, I found comfort for myself.
My letter to my son’s friend led to a chain reaction, and I began getting more requests. Writing these letters made me study the Bible more intently because I wanted to share the most accurate knowledge I could from scripture. Writing also brought a sense of fulfillment, accomplishment, and a new compassion for people, no matter who they were.
Through this time, I had not fully healed emotionally. For example, I couldn’t watch anything on television that had to do with someone being incarcerated. I also had difficulty passing inmates working on roadsides; I would be overcome with emotion and think of my son. But God began to use the scriptures I was learning and passing on to inmates to heal my own broken heart. They helped me trust God as I stood on the many promises I was sharing with others.
Soon a desire to go behind the gates of correctional institutions and minister God’s Word began to grow. So many who are behind bars haven’t been taught spiritual principles in their homes, nor have they seen godly examples.
In 2004, I took a leap of faith and interviewed to become a volunteer so I could minister locally at the Charles B. Webster Detention Facility. I was so nervous the first time I went. I kept reminding myself that I was walking in God’s will and He was walking into that facility with me. The ladies received the message the Holy Spirit spoke through me that day as I shared my story. Being there blessed me.
More letters came. I asked the Lord how He would have me respond to them, as writing individually to so many people was becoming difficult. In 2005, the Lord directed me to write a weekly newsletter I could send to those I was corresponding with. It would help others mature spiritually just as He was teaching me. I wrestled with the thought. How would these newsletters be distributed? God showed me as I prayed.
My son and his friends were on my list. At the beginning, they had all been at the same county jail. They were now serving their sentences in different correctional institutions. I wrote each of them and told them what God had asked me to do and asked if they would be willing to help me distribute the newsletters so others could read them. They all excitedly agreed to help however they could.
At first I sent just one copy of the newsletter to each of them to share with others. Then they duplicated the newsletters by hand and posted them wherever they were allowed.
Because of their faithfulness, more people began requesting the newsletters. God used those men and my husband as powerful instruments to fulfill His will.
One day I was watching Christian television, and a prison ministry program called Proclaim was on. The founder is an ex-professional football player named Mike Barber. They had filmed the program from a Texas prison.
I was moved by the program and thought it would be nice to partner with them. I wrote down their contact information but didn’t have enough faith to contact them at that time.
Months later, I turned on the television, and the program was on again. Once more, it moved me. This time I called and shared my ministry. I was told to contact their head chaplain for prisons in Texas. I called the chaplain and shared my newsletter ministry. They requested samples of my newsletters. I sent what I had.
You must know that when God asks you to do something, Satan will try to shipwreck God’s will. But here’s the good news: no obstacle Satan puts in your path can stop you, as long as you keep pressing forward in God’s strength.
It took some perseverance, but finally I received a large envelope in the mail from the head chaplain’s office. It contained a list of every correctional facility in the state of Texas and a yellow sticky note saying I had been approved to send newsletters into every one of them.
God used my call to Mike Barber’s organization to open a huge door for the ministry He had placed on my heart. He made it clear He wanted me to continue sending out my newsletters as I had been doing, but to expand now into Texas as well.
I was excited and scared at the same time because I knew it would take much work and money. The work ahead was great, and in July of 2005, with my husband’s love and support, I resigned from my job to pursue God’s will full-time.
Since the first letter I wrote to my son’s friends, God has supplied everything I have needed—the plan, the money, and incredible people to help. He has far surpassed anything that my mind could have imagined. And He isn’t through.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that as I stay close to Him and continue to trust Him, nothing is impossible! There are no limits to what God has or can do—there are only the limits we put on Him and ourselves.
Too often, we discredit our abilities by how we perceive ourselves. What if I had believed Satan’s lie and not written to that first inmate? My fear and my perceived inadequacies would have prevented me from stepping into God’s amazing plan and touching thousands of lives.
Listen—when God gives you an opportunity to share your faith and encourage someone, do it. Don’t let Satan’s lies and accusations hold you back. You don’t need to know everything about God for Him to use you. There is a dying world that needs the hope you have within you, and those people need it now!
If you think you don’t know enough to help someone else, I say to you what the Holy Spirit said to me: “Tell them what you do know.” Share how Jesus died for your sin and gave you eternal life (John 3:16). And then, like I did, pursue Him, learn all you can from Him, so you can share more. God simply desires your willingness in faith to share Him; He does the rest.