My journey back to God has been a story of incredible healing. He has brought me to a place where the pain from my past can help others. I went from keeping secrets to telling my story as part of my calling. My ex-husband was incarcerated for 19 years. I had to raise my kid on my own. I was angry at God but never stopped believing in Him. I just didn’t want to talk to Him. About 6 years ago, I moved to Cincinnati for my job. I had a friend who recommended Crossroads, and I decided to check it out. The weekend I attended, Chuck Mingo was talking about UNDIVIDED and the importance of racial reconciliation. I knew at that moment that this was my church.
I started in a small group with men and women who were going through a divorce. I was finally able to share some of the burdens that I carried so long. I felt that they accepted me for who I was. One of the women in that group said that her husband had gone to prison, and she was able to forgive him. At that moment, I felt that I had permission to tell that part of my story that I had kept in so long. I realized that it is OK to ask for and receive help.
In 2017 I went to South Africa. At the end of the trip, it was time for baptisms. I spent the whole time arguing with God, trying to come up with reasons I did not want to be baptized. Saying things like ‘the zebras were drinking out of that water’ and ‘I don’t need to do it again. I was baptized when I was younger.’ But it was almost over, and I felt like I needed to do it. So I got up and went into the water and was baptized.
I started to volunteer with the Four-Seven ministry. This helped me process some of the emotions that I had never before had the luxury to deal with. I began to go into local prisons and be a part of events for incarcerated women through Crossroads. I could connect with them, and I was able to share Jesus with them. I learned how important it was not to be judgmental and see each of these women as children of God. I began to see that God had brought me to Cincinnati for a reason.
Through The Four Seven ministry, I now help lead the family section. I know how these families and kids feel. I had experienced their same feelings visiting my ex-husband and taking my kids to see him. The Four Seven ministry has helped families find community since there are not many places to go when you have a family member incarcerated. It helps to share this burden with others. Most people do not want anyone to know about their situation. I know how hard it is to only keep it to yourself. In this “Families of the Incarcerated” small group, you can talk about it and hear a different perspective. It helps you to feel stronger and feel more in touch with God. You can find the “Families of the Incarcerated” on the Crossroads Group page or on the Four Seven Prison Ministry website -Geri G.