Looking back at her early years, Beth Gadjica considers herself to have been a “picture-perfect child.” But as she got older, an eating disorder tempted her to experiment with drugs, and at the age of 21 she was sentenced to two years in jail.
Soon after beginning her sentence, Beth found out she was pregnant with her third child. “By the grace of God,” she says, she was able to serve the rest of her sentence in the Baby and Mother Bonding Initiative (BAMBI) unit in Texas, where she could keep her newborn son with her to form a healthy parent-child bond. This rare state-run program allowed motherhood to be part of her transformation into the woman God had planned for her to become.
While in BAMBI, Beth participated in Prison Fellowship Bible studies and used the time to plan her future life path.
“I knew I wanted to reach out and help other moms,” she says.
Beth was released a year ago this Thursday. And she's wasted no time getting back on her feet and helping others.
SHARING HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
Invited by a Prison Fellowship field director, Beth recently shared her testimony with a group of incarcerated women in a Texas jail.
“As I saw the girls in white, my heart felt a sense of sadness and pain for the women themselves, but I also felt a sense of gratitude and wonder toward God because I'm so thankful for where I'm at today,” she recalls. "I never thought I would be returning to prisons, and now that's all I want to do is go back and share the Good News of freedom and new life with Christ.”
Beth works as a legal receptionist at a law firm while she goes to school to become paralegal and takes care of her 2-, 3-, and 4-year-old children.
Even with a very busy schedule, Beth still made it a priority to spend an evening with a room full of incarcerated women—shoes she had been in less than a year ago. She shared the coping mechanisms that have helped her make it on the outside, like talking to God as a friend in hard times.
“I tell him exactly what I am going through,” she says.
Beth shared about how healing it has been for her to journal her prayers, and how much her family and church have helped her keep moving forward.
“I want them to see that I was where they are and that I'm making it today!” she says.
Beth wants women behind bars to know that despite their situations, they are beautiful and valuable in the sight of God, and He has a special purpose for each of them. Because of this, they need to make choices that are healthy for themselves and their children, so that God can work in their lives and use them for His Glory.
“My core problem before I went to state jail was lack of self-love, and I want these women to learn to love themselves and have a personal connection with Jesus who is our father and friend,” she says.
And that night, through tears of healing, 120 women raised their hand to accept Christ into their hearts and lives.
Beth states, “Change is possible one step at a time with God at the forefront of your mind.”
Beth is proof of that, and this Thanksgiving she’ll be celebrating how God has continued to transform her and use her during this year since her release.
She reflects on her journey: “The road isn't easy, but the outcome from a changed life is truly beautiful.”