Cynthia got clean behind bars, but would she be able to stay clean on the outside?
"My first love wasn't a man," Cynthia Corder likes to say. "My first love was crystal meth." At just 15 years old, Cynthia was addicted to drugs. Soon all she cared about was "feeling good" in a way that only getting high could provide.
Her family tried to get her help. They wanted desperately for her to break her addiction. Once, Cynthia's mother Judy took her to a treatment center. With tears in her eyes, Judy begged her daughter to get clean. But nothing Judy could say or do would change Cynthia's mind.
"I wasn't at a place where I could even fathom that treatment was what I needed," Cynthia says.
FINDING JESUS IN JAIL
Eventually, drugs led Cynthia to jail. While sitting in her cell, she picked up a book to pass the time. The book focused on the life of a person who turned from sin to follow Jesus Christ. She realized that there was only one person who could help her: Jesus.
"Jesus Christ coming into my heart was everything that I needed," Cynthia explains. "Nothing on the outside changed. It didn't need to change. God didn't come to live in my mess; God came to live inside of my heart—to get me up out of my mess."
As Cynthia would later say, it wasn't the courts or judge who saved her. It wasn't her mother's love that motivated her. It certainly wasn't her own efforts. It was the love Christ. In a little county jail cell, Cynthia accepted Jesus as her Lord and savior. "My life has never been the same."
LEARNING HOW TO LIVE
Cynthia got clean behind bars. But once she was released, she had to learn how to live without depending on drugs.
There are many options available for people who want to break free from their addictions. Cynthia soon discovered she needed a program that would not just walk her through the steps of recovery but also disciple her.
"Recovery coupled with my faith—that's what kept me clean," she says. At one facility, Cynthia struggled to find others who followed Jesus. "I had a radical faith in the Lord, but the women … didn't understand my faith. They would make fun of it. I would sit in my little room, and I would say, 'God, one day will you use my life for a faith-based discipleship home?'"
Cynthia found her place at a welcoming church that hosted a Celebrate Recovery program. At Celebrate Recovery, "I was able to openly express my faith in Jesus Christ, who is my higher power," she shares. "I'm telling you, for every single area of my life, I learned how to get free."
The church helped Cynthia find employment, and she was also able to receive ministry training. Soon she was pastoring.
PARTNERSHIP WITH PRISON FELLOWSHIP
In 2015, Cynthia arrived in Houston to serve as a chaplain at the Harris County Jail. It's the fourth largest jail in the nation, and Cynthia was tasked with developing a program for 1,000 incarcerated women.
"I connected with Prison Fellowship®. They are amazing. They really took me under their wing, spoke into my life, and equipped me with resources." With Prison Fellowship's help, Cynthia was able to launch the Prison Fellowship Academy® at the jail. "We saw such dramatic, fruitful results from that," she says.
Cynthia keeps in touch with many of the women she served during her chaplaincy. "I like to say it like this: [Those women] are like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—they don't even smell like smoke! You wouldn't know their story unless they shared it with you."
JUDY'S HOUSE—AN ANSWER TO PRAYER
Today, Cynthia is in Galveston, Texas, where her prayer has been answered after 18 years. Last fall, Cynthia opened a faith-based discipleship home for women. She named it "Judy's House" for her mother who had recently passed away. Today, Judy's House is growing and serving the community.
"When you're in the will of the Lord, He just opens up doors for you," Cynthia says.
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