When Regina laughs, you can't help joining in her joy. You wouldn't think that the incarcerated woman of 51 would have much reason to laugh in her circumstances, but she soon sets you straight.
"I look forward to the next 50 years of my life," she says. "Because everything that I screwed up these last 50 years, I have a chance to do it over. And I praise God for that."
Regina is a new creation in the Lord, and she's not afraid to share it.
'WHY CAN'T I GET IT RIGHT?'
Regina knew about Jesus Christ—she even believed in His existence. But having never had spiritual guidance, she wasn't aware of why Jesus was worth knowing. "I didn't know what it was that He did for me," she explains. "I didn't know the role He played in life and that He was God the Son."
This "not knowing" led Regina to believe her worth was in her own strength. But that strength was waning with every stay behind bars.
"When I was brought into the prison system [for the fourth time], I was broken," Regina says. "I was completely broken. And I just couldn't figure out why I couldn't get it right." Regina pauses, and when she speaks again, the emotion in her voice is moving. "I prayed to God," she says. "I said [to Him], 'Please guide my steps to show me what it [is] that [I'm not] getting right.'"
A smile spreads across her face. "And He did," she says and laughs with joy.
HEARING THE CALL
God brought Regina to Folsom State Prison. It was here that she found the spiritual guidance and mentors she longed for. Through various programs such as The Urban Ministry Institute and the Prison Fellowship Academy™, Regina began putting together the pieces of her life.
"God was calling me," she says. "I feel Him every day in my life calling me, and now I understand the things that God has been doing in my life … He's been orchestrating my life all [this] time—I just wasn’t listening!"
Today, Regina has a strong foundation of faith on the Word of God. She's delved deep into the Bible, what she sees as "a beautiful love story of God and creation and everything that He has done for us through His Son."
JOY AND COURAGE IN THE DARKNESS
There's a freedom in Christ that Regina has found, and one she wants to share with her son, who is also incarcerated. In the past, Regina's son was dismissive of religion telling his mother that hiding behind the Bible was weakness.
"I don't see it like that," Regina says. "I think it takes more courage to stand up for God in such a dark place."
Although she cannot contact her son while incarcerated, she hopes to one day share with him all that she has learned. "Stand on the Bible ... and you won't fall to the ways of the world," Regina says. "[Prison] is all the darkest parts of the world, so that's what courage is about. I never got that before. Unfortunately, this is my fourth prison term, and I'm finally getting it."
As for her future, Regina isn't sure when she will leave prison, but she knows it will be soon. For now, she's waiting on the Lord and trusting that He will remember her.