You never know where life will lead you. In May 2020, I was in an unfamiliar place of isolation and anxiety. Due to the pandemic, I was working from home. Being separated from coworkers, friends, family, and even my church was taking a toll. Of course, the uncertainty in the world wasn’t helping.
I was battling intense loneliness and anxiety, and I needed to know God was there. So I cried out, asking Him for help.
I had never been one to study the Word of God. Though I had asked Jesus to be my Savior when I was seven, I didn’t have a personal relationship with Him, nor had I ever tried to get to know Him through His Word. Suddenly, I realized it was time to stop telling myself the Bible was too difficult to understand.
I knew I needed to draw closer to God, so I committed to studying His Word daily. Determined, I put away the things that always distracted me—the iPad, phone calls, texts, everything. It was time to focus on developing my relationship with God. I needed some serious God-and-me time.
I quickly found that the more time I set apart with Him, the more alive and less lonely I began to feel. Handing over my worries to Him helped settle my emotions. Every day, God’s Spirit revealed new truths to me.
I had been a believer for 41 years, but all I had to show for it was faithful church attendance. I had never considered who God wanted me to be or do. I had lived my life for me. What a shame that it took a global pandemic to move me out of my spiritual complacency. I asked the Lord to forgive me.
With a new hunger for the Bible and fresh revelation of God’s goodness, my faith grew. And I found new courage. “Lord,” I prayed, “search me and remove the distractions that are keeping me from fulfilling Your design for my life. Remove the obstacles that impair my ability to fulfill Your purpose for me. Lord, show me the way You would have me go. I want to glorify You. Amen.”
They say be careful what you pray for.
I had recently discovered Kristi Overton Johnson on social media, and her posts encouraged me and helped me learn more about God. I also learned about this magazine and its impact behind bars. I felt God leading me to contact the ministry and ask how I could volunteer.
I had no idea what I could do to help in their mission of delivering hope to the incarcerated, but I knew it was where God wanted me to serve. I was invited to participate in a Shine Bright and Write correspondence event at a local church. Victorious Living receives thousands of letters from incarcerated people, and at that event, I got to respond to a few of them on the ministry’s behalf.
The idea of writing to people in prison was way out of my comfort zone. I had never known anyone behind bars, but from the moment I wrote my first letter, I loved the concept of sharing God’s love with others in this way.
The day after the event, I contacted Linda Cubbedge-Smith, VL’s Director of Correspondence, and asked if I could write more. She sent me several letters needing to be answered. The more I read and responded, the more God’s love for those who are incarcerated grew within me.
I served in a few other volunteer capacities at Victorious Living over the next several months, and then, when Mrs. Linda announced her retirement, Kristi offered the director’s position to me. It took about one second for me to accept the invitation! Mrs. Linda officially passed the torch to me on July 1, and I was honored and excited to accept it.
When you commit to draw close to God, He will draw near to you (James 4:8), and He will lead you to places you never imagined, where you will find blessing far beyond measure.
He has a plan—and it’s a good one!
CARLA OWENS loves the Lord and seeks to know Him more intimately daily. She is the new director of the Victorious Living Prison Correspondence Team.