Jesse and I were both raised in church but after fifteen years of marriage and a blessed, comfortable life, we had drifted into worldliness. We had everything except children so I prayed and asked God for a child. I was not in the habit of praying or reading my Bible on a regular basis, only when I was troubled or needed something from God. Jesse didn’t take time for God either, he was busy learning ways to make money. I was going to church, usually alone, and I was a “good” person. It was not what I did that was a sin as much as what I left undone. My weaknesses were apathy, procrastination, and little love or thought for other people. I knew God had blessed us, but I did not feel gratitude. I took God for granted, somehow thinking I deserved a good and easy life. Neither Jesse nor I were living our lives for our Lord. We were content and going merrily on our way, unaware of our neglectful life style.
Thank God, He did not leave us there! About ten years ago, God started moving in our lives to change all that. First, my friends were taken away, except one friend from church. Then God moved me to begin corresponding with prisoners after reading Hebrews 13:3.
I was not sure this was a good idea, I was expecting God to give us a child to adopt. Whenever God leads us somewhere other than what is in our minds, we come up with excuses or reasons for not following His way. My reasoning was; I wouldn’t be able to relate to prisoners, we wouldn’t have anything to talk about, what would we have in common?… But I was obedient, praise God, and I began writing to Richard in May, 1989.
Richard was easy so I soon got two more inmates, both a real challenge. I found that I was not able; that is when I knew it was God doing the work through me and not me. Thanks be to God who put the earnest care into my heart and equipped me for every good work. (2Cor. 8:16 & 2Tim. 3:17) I experienced the powerful, supernatural love of Jesus for these men He had brought into our lives. I no longer had apathy or procrastination and God did not allow me to forget to pray for them a single night. The Holy Spirit gave me words to say and Scriptures to share, getting me into Bible study. God was leading Jesse into doing Bible study at this time as well. He repented and accepted Jesus as his personal Savior.
Other things started happening in our lives, adversities and testing that took Jesse deeper into Bible study. We sold our home and property and bought an old RV. (That is a story in itself!) We traveled out to the west coast, visiting some of our friends on the inside; we knew about seven by then. God was with us, we saw Him move on many occasions. A year later, we returned to North Carolina and I got sick. We had expected to get work and settle down like before. God had taught us so much, blessed us with an extended family, and made us thankful children. We were ready to get back to normal with a new focus on Jesus and walking in the Spirit. But God was not finished with us yet. We were surprised by suffering, helplessly dependant on God. We stood on God’s promises and found Him to be faithful! We saw God move on our behalf to make a way where there was no way and to provide all our need. The Lord has taught us to surrender all to Him, and wait patiently as we walk by faith and not by sight.
God has made us useable, agreeable, and loving children through suffering. Because of the work He’s done in us, we now have great confidence and unwavering trust in God; we give Him all the glory! Remembering the parable of the Prodigal Son, most testimonies we hear are of the younger son who left home; my testimony is to the fact that God can change the heart of the brother who stayed home as well.
I have been well now over two years and I am off all medication, praise God! We currently have ten beloved incarcerated, including our son, Christopher, who, with our help and God’s, begun this prison ministry in the spring of 1998. We look forward to the future knowing God has a wonderful plan for us all. Our God is an awesome God!