At the beginning of my prison sentence I felt forsaken…by God, family, friends and the system. I was carrying a heavy burden from abuse and trauma. I realize now that going to prison set me free. It took a physical prison to bring me out of an emotional prison. God released my heart and mind to receive His healing love. He then enabled me to freely love God’s people.
At Hobby I heard about the Discipleship Unlimited Faith Based Dorm. There was a long waiting list for the dorm but surprisingly I was selected. I was overwhelmed with excitement, but I was also very nervous. My plan was to listen but not to share my personal life. To my surprise, God had other plans.
It was not long until Carla Hooton and the team of volunteers got me involved. I considered myself a runner but there was no place to run. The only thing I could do was run into the arms of love and support given by every volunteer.
My personal fellowship with God, my family and friends were restored during my four years at Hobby. I found new friends of faith within the body of Christ. I learned how to forgive and to be forgiven. My spiritual life and faith were strengthened. Most importantly I chose to leave the past behind and focus on a new future with hopes and dreams.
Upon release I was excited to return to prison as a hope bringer. I shared my story at Sunday Services with Terry and Jean Strom. My husband George and I often spend holidays with my beautiful sisters on the inside. I also teach Celebrate Recovery at one of the DU Dorms. I am part of the Reentry team that does panels for incarcerated women covering topics like housing, relationships, finance and addictions. I host the Refuel events in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It is an honor to reconnect with my sisters. We need each other for loving honest support.
This year God has continued to bless and renew my family. Like in the story of Ruth, I have a wonderful Boaz. His name is George Washington and he is my greatest encourager. We do ministry together. My daughter Kennedy graduated from high school and we participated in the new Reentry video components for Discipleship Unlimited. We share our experiences…both struggles and successes. My son graduated from college this past year as well.
The DU Faith Dorm Program, all the classes, and the volunteers are gifts from God and very instrumental in the building and rebuilding of God's kingdom. The seeds DU planted are still bearing fruit in my life and those around me. Now I want to give back and I am grateful for the opportunities.
How grateful we are for Tina’s story and for the impact our alumni are having as they serve alongside us. We are also thankful for your prayers and support of Discipleship Unlimited. The new curriculum will be out next month. Pray for God’s provision for the vision He has given.
Rejoicing in Hope,
The Discipleship Unlimited staff and faithful volunteers