Only the Beginning
There are five women in Protective Custody at the Mountain View Unit in the former death row where Linda's story with Karla Faye Tucker began. After their convictions, they were placed there for their own protection due to the nature of their cases. They were locked in their cells 23 hours a day - only being released one hour individually for recreation or showers. One woman has been there for almost 20 years.
Although all these women have some church background, they will tell you that no one would have known that until recently. "It was like living in a dark, empty box," they related to the volunteers. "Even if you ache for companionship and fellowship, you just sit alone because no one ever shows up. Over the years, people would come by our cells to talk about Jesus, usually on holidays. They would pray, smile, and promise to come back, but it never happened.”
In July 2015, that all changed as the volunteers from Discipleship Unlimited were invited by Warden Nelson to come in two days a week to begin group studies in the day room. They were overwhelmed as it was the first time they had been together to do anything.
"At first, I was very reluctant," one of the women shared. "I listened to them talk about how we were all going to sit together and talk about Jesus, but I didn't believe it would really happen. I figured they would give up after a couple of weeks, so I didn't even come out of my cell. But you know what? They kept coming. One of them (Carla Hooton) had cancer and was going through chemotherapy, so I decided that if she could keep coming, the least I could do was show up."
Into His Wonderful Light
"Almost immediately, Protective Custody began to change. Finally light came back into the darkness," they said. They shared a famous quote that says, "He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how."
"That is what the fellowship with the volunteers gave us - our why! We have a reason to get up, get ready, sing songs, and grow from the studies." Their transformation is evident on their faces each time we go.
As part of a day-long Alpha study on the Holy Spirit, we were recently allowed to bring in sweet rolls for breakfast and pizza and salad for lunch as well as sweet tea. It was our delight to watch them enjoy things they have not had for years. An even greater delight is to see their desire to grow spiritually as individuals, as a group, and as witnesses to their families, friends, and staff at Mountain View.
As they explained so well: "We finally understand that God has not forgotten us in here and that our stories are not over, but only just beginning."
Thank you for ministering with us through your prayers and giving.
Edrena for the entire Discipleship Unlimited Team