How Erica learned to not be afraid
Behind bars, there can be many things for a new prisoner to fear: violence, pressure, loneliness, boredom.
But Erica’s biggest fear was that she wouldn’t be transformed.
Nervous that she would succumb to old habits and relationships inside the prison, she didn’t know if she could make a fresh start. "I was ... worried I wouldn't change. I would still just be the same person I was before I got to prison," she says. "That was probably the bigger fear than the violence."
FEAR NO EVIL
Erica knew she had a lot to lose if she didn’t take the opportunity to change. Her past drug use fractured her relationships with her children. But was it already too late to be forgiven?
Erica says she knew some people couldn’t see past her old bad choices, viewing her and other prisoners as “the scum of the earth.”
Thankfully, Erica has met Prison Fellowship® volunteers who saw her differently. At a recent Prison Fellowship Hope Event™, they came in for a weekend event, with musicians and inspirational speakers, to show women behind bars how much God loves them.
“[T]hese people from the free world come in, and they are so kind and big-hearted and don't look at us any different," she marvels. "It makes us feel good."
For many prisoners like Erica, interactions with Prison Fellowship volunteers and programs may be among the only positive interactions they have. Men and women behind bars live with their guard up. When they encounter the radical love of Christ through loving relationships, they drop their guard and start to be renewed.
Now Erica has hope for transformation because she believes God has forgiven her. She says, "No matter where I'm at, not matter what situation I'm in, I'm going to be OK if I just trust in God with all my heart. And I do. I'm not afraid.”
No longer living in fear, Erica rejoices that God can make her new—no matter where she is.
A MOTHER'S LOVE
Erica has a family waiting for her on the outside. She says being a mom in prison is hard, but it's easier than it was on the streets. "I'm doing productive things to change my life. I'm closer to God," she said. "I miss my children, but I know that this absence is a good absence because I'm working on myself as opposed to me being on the streets, using drugs."
Erica’s next goal is to improve her relationship with her family. "My family support is amazing," she says. There is a lot of lost time to make up for, but "hopefully I can build those relationships back up when I leave in a few years."
She’s not sure what life after prison will look like, but she knows the kind of person she wants to be: "I'm taking vocational classes. I just want to be stable in my community. I'm a mother so I want to take care of my responsibilities. I just want to give back to the community."
MORE THAN JUST A NUMBER
Prison Fellowship encourages and supports prisoners around the country. Your support helps give hope to women like Erica who want to change their lives.
Prison Fellowship sent Erica a card reminding her about the love of Christ: "God loves you ... There is no place you could go He couldn't find you. Nothing you could do that He could not forgive you and no wound so deep that His love does not go deeper. "
Erica teared up as she read these encouraging words.
Learn more about our programs here.