This April, Prison Fellowship® hosted a Hope Event at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, California. Hope Events introduce prisoners to the hope of Jesus Christ through yard events featuring inspirational speakers, musicians, and other attractions. While providing a brief respite from the challenges of prison life, these events give prisoners the chance to respond to Christ and take the next step of joining a faith community behind bars.
Prisoners like Kari.
LIFE AS A FEMALE PRISONER
"I responded to a burglary in my home and got put in prison," Kari shares. "I rushed the woman, took the gun, and ended up letting a shot off, back at her."
She has spent the last 15 years behind bars at the Central California Women's Facility.
In the United States, incarcerated women are the fastest growing demographic in prison population. Unfortunately, many correctional facilities have yet to adapt to the specific needs of women. For Kari, prison has been a difficult place to adjust to. As a woman, it's hard to deal with the lack of privacy that female prisoners face every day. It's also hard to live in such close-quarters .
"Prison is a very volatile place," Kari says. "In one second, everything can change … you just have to really be paying attention, watching, staying with your friends."
'EVERY LITTLE BIT IS PRECIOUS'
On a personal level, prison life has been a struggle for Kari because she is, in her own words, "a nature fanatic."
The prison yard is bare except for buildings and fences topped with wire. Kari says there used to be a palm tree she would sit under and meditate on God's Word. Her Bible is well-read—the gold-edging of its pages having long since worn off. Many of its verses are highlighted and underlined.
"There's such a limited amount of greenery that every little bit … becomes precious," Kari says. "You really start appreciating nature."
As part of this year's Hope Events, Prison Fellowship brought cards of encouragement written by staff, volunteers, and our many fans on social media. When Kari receives her card, she reads,
Friend, I wanted to let you know that I am praying for you and hoping that your heart feels encouraged today. You have not been forgotten, and although I can't imagine the struggles that you are facing, God knows all that you are going through. You are never alone.
I come across a short but meaningful quote by author and pastor Charles Stanley and hope it speaks into your life as it has spoken to mine. He wrote, 'Your potential is the sum of all the possibilities God has for your life.' If you let that sink in, the truth is that there are endless possibilities with God right where you are, right in this moment.
I pray that you will begin to understand how incredibly great His power is to help those who believe God. It is my prayer that God will lend you His strength as you face your personal struggles and that you pursue every opportunity presented to you. You are worth the effort."
"I wrote a song called 'Endless possibilities,'" Kari shares. "That's ironic, that's so amazing of a coincidence! Oh, that's nice."
The card, Kari says, "stirs my emotions. It stirs my heart … I feel like this was written right to me because y'all [are] caring and sharing and taking an interest in my life and my situation—and then this, it's very profound."