On a recent trip to Minnesota, I visited with the ladies who are part of the InnerChange Freedom Initiative (IFI) unit in Shakopee, the only women’s prison in the state. I asked them, “If you could tell the people who support this program anything, what would you say?”
I’ll always remember one woman in particular who spoke up. She was meek, soft-spoken, and middle-aged, with dark blond hair and glasses.
She explained that, in the program, she really looked at her life story for the first time. She saw that everyone in her life had left her. Her mom left. Her dad left. A couple of different husbands left her. As teenagers, her children wanted nothing to do with her and distanced themselves from her. Because of her great fear of abandonment, she was very needy and clung tightly to the people around her. Eventually she committed a terrible crime out of her overwhelming neediness and fear.
To the financial partners who make IFI possible, this woman, who will spend the rest of her life in prison, sends this message (which I’m paraphrasing): “I can’t believe there are people out there like you who have never met me, who don’t know me, and yet will invest in this program for me. Even though I’ve committed this terrible crime, you won’t leave me. And now I know that Jesus has forgiven me, and He will never leave me.”
Now, this woman is committed to spending the rest of her many years in prison letting younger women know that they don’t have to go through life angry, bitter, and blaming others. They, too, can be wholly and deeply loved by a Father who will never leave them.