A Future of Loneliness
Crack cocaine. Prostitution. Murder.
Lisa had committed serious crimes, and running from her past wasn't helping. The fear and guilt were overpowering her.
TIRED OF RUNNING
Growing up, Lisa thought she had a happy family. But when her mother kicked her father out, Lisa, the youngest of six children, found her world turned upside down. In response, she began to rebel. She would skip school and run away from home.
When Lisa needed money, her sister introduced her to a man who paid Lisa for sex. Lisa's life continued to go downhill after that. By the time she was in her twenties, Lisa was a mother and a drug addict. She was tired of running, and she decided to turn herself in. and was charged with multiple crimes … including murder.
Lisa was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 99 years in a maximum-security prison.
'WORTH MORE THAN LIFE ITSELF'
Lisa faced a future of loneliness. While incarcerated, she heard very little from her family. Her children didn't write. They didn't visit her.
Missing her children, Lisa wanted a way to reach out to them. Then she discovered Prison Fellowship®'s Angel Tree®, a program that serves incarcerated parents by providing a pathway for restoring and strengthening their relationships with their children and families.
"That was the greatest thing for me," Lisa remembers, "because I still wanted to have some input in my children's lives. I was a mother. I loved my kids."
That Christmas, Lisa called home to talk to her children. It was a conversation that she will never forget.
"My son said, 'Momma, Momma, I got that bike, I got them games and I got some toys.'" Lisa says, "Even today, it's tearing me up. That was the most important thing of my life … that my children had something from me. Because I was totally out of their lives."
Lisa had believed her life sentence was a death sentence as a mother. But the chance "to give something at Christmas was worth more than life itself," she says.
For the next 10 years, Angel Tree helped bring Lisa and her children together despite the miles and barbed wire between them.
One year, Lisa received news that her son was ill and not expected to live. Life seemed to stop for Lisa. She says, "The only reason I had hope in prison was my children."
But then, as Lisa sat on her bed, she heard the voice of God say very clearly, "I control whether your son lives or dies." She immediately fell on her knees and asked God to heal her son.
Then she decided to attend a three-day prison revival service, during which she heard God's voice once again, saying, "Lisa, this is your last chance. If you don't come forward, you are going to die."
Lisa ran to the altar and gave her life to Christ. Crying tears of joy, she knew she had found a God who loved her and forgave her. Her white prison uniform was stained black with melted mascara.
A 'HEART TRANSPLANT,' A NEW CREATION
"Prison Fellowship was the greatest thing that happened to me in prison," she says. "There were other Bible studies that came and went, but Prison Fellowship stuck with us through it all. Those volunteers came no matter what. That is how we could tell if they were really real and if they really loved us."
As Lisa's heart changed—she calls it a "heart transplant"—she knew she was becoming a new creation.
"I didn't want to do the evil stuff I was doing anymore. The volunteers loved me for who I was."
Lisa grew her relationship with Jesus and began to understand that her whole life belonged to God.
"I took hold of the Word because the Word was all I had," she says. "It gave me comfort, it gave me courage, and it gave me wisdom and knowledge. It even helped me make good decisions. I had to learn how to live."
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