When other recovery programs failed to help her, Amber turned to the Prison Fellowship Academy®. Could a faith-based alternative be the answer?
Amber didn't know how she was going to get out of this mess. With a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, she understood the court process that she had just undergone as a result of her three criminal charges. Yet all the knowledge she had accumulated could not equip her for the reality of a prison sentence.
"I was so broken and just crushed," she says. "I was going to do anything [I could] to be above the drowning feeling that I felt."
After several treatment centers, recovery programs, and support groups, Amber was ready to try something new—a biblically-based alternative to combat her addiction and, just as importantly, introduce her to a positive community to support her transformation.
The Prison Fellowship Academy is voluntary and open to prisoners of any faith or no faith background, as long as they meet the program requirements and are willing to engage with its Gospel-centered materials. Amber was hungry for what the Academy offered.
A DEEPER RELATIONSHIP
Located in select prisons across the country, the Academy takes men and women through a holistic life transformation over 12 months, where they are guided by Prison Fellowship staff and volunteers to lead lives of purpose and productivity inside and outside of prison. They confront issues that lead people to prison, including addiction, and instill a new set of values, like responsibility, integrity, and community.
In the Academy, Amber has developed a relationship with the God who desperately wants to know her. "If it wasn't for [the Academy], I wouldn't have the faith that I have today." She also dreams of opening her own treatment center one day, so that she can use the lessons she has learned from the program to help other people who are struggling like she was.
Most importantly, she wants the world to know that change is possible for people mired in addiction. "I didn't believe that people could change," she shares. "I never thought I was going to change until I completed [the Academy]."
AMBER'S SECOND CHANCE
Now Amber has received a second chance, and she has no intention of squandering it:
A second chance for me means starting over. Not having to live with the stigma of my past or the decisions that I've made … I get a chance to be happy again, I get a chance to live life, I get a chance to start over.
"I know who I am today. I know what I like, I know what I don't like. I know who I want to be around, and I have goals. I don't surround myself with negative people anymore, I surround myself with people that are going places. I don't have to seek my identity in anything that's not for me. I seek my identity in Christ."
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