How encouraged ex-offenders and volunteers are by our Reignite weekends. Many, like Rachel Norman, share how much they missed the meaningful fellowship they found inside the walls. But thanks to the vision of our supporters, DU held the fifth-annual weekend reunion with volunteers, ex-offenders, and their families.
What Happens at Reignite?
Each woman shares an update on her life. There are amazing victories of multiple years of freedom from drugs, restoration with long-lost children, and joyous marriages. Smaller victories encourage, such as finding a job, opening a checking account, buying a car, or living on her own. And there are struggles too: divorce, health, and family addictions. Karen Mitchell, a Murray Faith Dorm graduate, summarized the heart of the weekend when she said: “I practice being faithful, not perfect.”
Friendships continue to grow on the outside, as Rachel Norman and Karen Mitchell have found. They both live in Amarillo. Rachel was given an opportunity to meet her 26-year-old daughter whom she’d not seen since she was 18 months old. She needed prayer support. It was Karen who drove Rachel from Texas to Colorado for that meeting. Iron sharpens iron.
Kathryn Oliver lives in Longview and is 74. She was in prison 24 years, and this is her second year at Reignite. It is the highlight of her year. She was the first to arrive and the last to leave. After many years of incarceration it is difficult to find your place in society, but God is keeping her. We are her family.
Cathy Rutledge Wilson shared the pain of losing her son this year to a drug overdose. The man who sold her son the drugs is going to trial. Cathy is in the process of ministering to that young man. Her compassion for him touched our hearts.
Mary Starnes told of how her church purchased a bus ticket for her to go to Wyoming to see her mother, who was in her final days. Mary asked her forgiveness and told her how sorry she was for the years she was hooked on meth. “Mama, you can go now. I am free from drugs for the first time in my life and I have Jesus.” God brought deep healing.
Upon release, Morgan Hawley started a Celebrate Recovery group in her community. Terry and Jean spoke at one of the meetings. Now she has helped start a second recovery group and is going back into prison as a volunteer. Many of our graduates are now returning to prison to minister.
Lori Riggs is a licensed Drug and Alcohol counselor at La Hacienda, one of the finest treatment centers in Texas. Lori did five years at Hobby Unit on a drug charge. She spoke on holiness, obedience, and the joy of single living. She is content without being in a relationship because of her relationship with Jesus. Transformation!
DU volunteer Deb Gore gave the closing message. It was a perfect ending on freedom from disappointment. “Choose to focus on His goodness, on the good things He has done and is doing. Find ways to find joy in the moment without pretending that bad things aren’t happening. “
Thank you ministry partners! God is setting captives free, and they are walking in joy!