At Prison Fellowship, we often talk about the significance of forgiveness and reconciliation—between prisoners and members of their families, between offenders and their victims. Recently, Liz Stanosheck, a member of our field staff, shared a pretty amazing story about a situation in which she was the victim.
Recently, Liz was at a community-release facility inviting a group of female prisoners to attend a Women of Faith conference. After making her announcement, Liz noticed a pale woman with red hair standing in the midst of the group. Her eyes were wide and tears were streaming down her face. Instantly, Liz recognized the woman.
Back up 10 years.
Liz was living in a close-knit community where most people knew and trusted each other. One day, she walked into her garage and discovered her car was gone. Assuming one of her children or co-workers had played a prank on her, Liz didn’t think too much of it. But when everyone denied taking it, Liz realized her car had really been stolen.
Shortly afterward, she found out that it had been Kristy (not her real name), her neighbor’s troubled teenage daughter. The girl’s parents thought it would be good for Liz to press charges so Kristy could get into a group home and hopefully on a better path. Kristy went to a group home and Liz eventually lost touch with the family.
Fast forward to the girl crying in the crowd. It was Kristy.
Stealing Liz’s car had led to Kristy’s first experience in the criminal justice system. But over the next 10 years, she would continue to cycle in and out of prison.
Liz walked over to Kristy and gently said, “Kristy.”
Kristy put her hands over her face.
“Kristy, it’s okay,” Liz said.
“I’m so so sorry,” Kristy continued. “I came back [to prison], but I want to do better.”
The two women embraced.
Not long afterward, Liz reconnected with Kristy and her mother, whom she brought with her to the Women of Faith event.
“Isn’t it amazing how God works and brings people back together?” Liz said.