Wendi Johnson never thought she'd find herself baking cookies for prisoners. Not after what she'd been through.
According to her friend Karen Foster's article on nowwhat.org, Wendi received the worst news of her life in 2005: her husband Kim had been murdered by home intruders.
Brandon, her son, had found his stepdad in their basement.
Through the emotional turmoil of losing her husband, Wendi hoped the trial would leave her satisfied. Answered questions, hefty prison sentences, some semblance of closure—maybe this chapter of the horror story could finally end.
If time wouldn't heal all wounds, justice might. But Wendi's peace didn't come at the slam of a gavel.
A NEW HEART
With the perpetrators behind bars, Wendi faced a new enemy: bitterness.
"Negative thoughts consumed me," she said in the article.
She tried to forget the past. It seemed a little counterintuitive, then, to volunteer to bake cookies for a prison ministry—to get closer to the world behind bars and the people who lived there—when the opportunity arose. But Wendi did it anyway.
She even hoped she might be able to forgive the men who killed her husband, and she prayed for them by name.
She started writing a letter to the ones who killed her husband.
"God loves you, regardless of what you've done," Wendi wrote. "I've forgiven you, and God's willing to forgive you if you turn to Him."
AN UNEXPECTED LETTER
A month later, she found a surprise in her mailbox.
Wendi recounts the moment in Karen Foster’s article: "My hands shook as I read the prisoner's neat, handwritten letter. 'I'm sorry for all the pain I caused you and your family. Thank you, Wendi, for your letter. I prayed for a sign that I'd been forgiven.'"
It's a testament to the work God has done in her life, she says: "Why would that even enter my mind, unless God put it there?"
Wendi continues to serve prisoners by telling her story in prison, facilitating Christmas gift drives through her church, and encouraging others to get involved in prison ministry.
"I know this has changed my life, for sure," says Wendi. "I'm very thankful that I have faith. I don't know how people go through things without God … I really do think God is using this whole tragedy to bring healing to other people."
Maybe, like Wendi, you want to step up and get involved in prison ministry. Prison Fellowship® offers many opportunities for you to get started! One way that you can have a lasting impact on prisoners and their families is by participating in Angel Tree®. The program serves incarcerated parents and their children, giving them a pathway for restored and strengthened relationships. To get involved or find out more, click here.