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Celebrate Recovery Stories

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 Jennifer

“As one of the girls in the faith based dorms it is easy to say that the Strom family and the love of Jesus that shines through them not only made my time meaningful but changed my life. My family is whole again and I am still drug free. I have been home 18 months. Tell Jake that what he is doing is more powerful then any of us can imagine.”

Caleigh

"I did 8 months at Woodman and have been home two years now. I was desperate to get to Terry to ask him where I could go for help. He gave me information and now I am in a great church and God is the biggest part of my life. I have full custody of both my children. Terry and Jean helped me get started and stay with God. Thank you so much for what you do.”

What an inspiration these women of faith are! Thank you ministry partners for standing with us. Your prayers and support enable us watch God bring beauty out of ashes.

A Dramatic Story of Reconciliation

chris_liz_lg
chris_liz_lg

There were amazing testimonies of reconciliation at Reignite, but none so dramatic as Liz and Chris. They recently remarried after she served time in prison for placing a hit on Chris' life. She came to Christ and kept in touch with their little son.

When Chris saw the new Liz, he forgave her. They are very much in love, and their family is reunited. Her mother-in-law welcomed her back into their family. She hugged Liz and whispered in her ear, "Now our family is complete." Miracle working God!

He gives beauty for ashes. The oil of joy for mourning and a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness. Thank you for providing the resources for this growth spurt. We need your partnership and prayers.

Under the flow of His amazing grace.

Where Are They Now - Betty Gonzales

Meet Betty Gonzales, graduate of the Murray Faith-Based Dorm!

Cleaning Service Mother, six-year-old Joseph Volunteer, Media Team Palo Pinto Cowboy Church Good Samaritan Ministry

Betty arrived at Woodman State Jail on April 22, 2009. She accepted Christ two weeks later. After being assigned to the Murray Unit, she applied for our Faith-Based Dorm program. She had a hunger for the Word and was a key leader.

betty_web
betty_web

After 18 months in the program Betty shared at the graduation. Then she was commissioned to minister in the prison population. She was released from prison in July 2011.

Today, she is active in her church and ministers hope to ex-offenders. She spoke at our Reignite Reunion. Even though she has had many adjustments and challenges, her gratitude and passion for Jesus remain constant.

In order to support herself, Betty began cleaning houses. One of her clients sent me an email.

I love to come in and find Betty mopping the floors with a beautiful smile on her face and a praise song on her lips. Her joy and giving spirit are contagious. She spent an entire day cleaning for an elderly person in our community. It was her gift and a beautiful example of sacrificial giving.

And the gift goes on and on and on.

Thank you ministry partners!

God Makes Friends of Enemies

Jennifer is our newest participant in the Hilltop faith-based Dorm and tells this miracle story:

When I was arrested, I was placed in a two person cell with a girl who was my enemy on the streets. Someone handed me a “Karla Faye Tucker Set Free” book. I got on my bunk and quietly read.

After a while, my cellmate asked me what I was reading. I told her and said, “Why don’t you request a copy?” After a long silence she said, “I can’t read.” So I read it to her. We read it together all the way through. Then she asked if I would read it again. So we read it through twice. After we finished it the second time, we were friends. Then she said she’d like to try to read Karla’s story herself, if I could help her to learn to read.

So Jennifer taught her to read, and God made friends of enemies.

Redemption in Indiana Prisons

Linda and Edrena spent some time in Indiana, and this is Edrena's report of their experiences: The Federal Corrections Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, has maximum-minimum security levels in several different facilities. It also houses death row for men and some of those that are threats to U.S. security. Being a federal facility it is definitely a step up from Texas state prisons generally in many ways. They have a faith-based program with 130 men in which we were able to spend a day.

Linda was able to speak to the U.S. Penitentiary (maximum security) and the Federal Corrections (medium security) on Sunday and tell about her and Karla's story of redemption and forgiveness. She was able to openly share the gospel, and we were able to pray with the men individually. Several received Christ, and others wanted prayer to walk faithfully.

There is no parole to speak of in the federal system, and most of the men are from other parts of the U.S., so they don't receive many visits. Several were from Texas. The chaplains and staff were great!! We do know that there is much more general programming in our units than what is happening there, even though they have eight paid chaplaincy staff for around 3,000 inmates.

On Monday, we toured the faith-based program. It is 18 months, and we will be sharing ideas from it as we process what we can use. They graciously gave us copies of all their curriculum. Linda was able to share the story of forgiveness through Ron Carlson, brother of the lady Karla murdered. It is powerful. We divided into groups with the 130 men and discussed forgiveness. They had never divided into groups like this before.

Since this faith-based group involves any faith, we had Muslim, no faith, Catholic, Protestant and some other faiths there. There was an imam and a retired nun there as mentors as well as the Protestant mentors. Linda did a great job sharing the forgiveness message while speaking under the restrictions of the government. Ron's video spoke much of what we would like to convey for us. The chaplain said these were the best presentations they have ever had.

After this, we were able to share individually with several men and also see some of their classes, including one where they sew hats for kids in hospitals, called Happy Hats. The men gave us a great round of applause as we left them. One of the workers said they had never done this before.

It is only through the prayers lifted up for us and desiring to be faithful to our call and love the ones God has sent us to is this possible. Pray for those men that God's love would transform them and that they would be lights to that place. Also continue to pray for discernment on how to best fulfill our call here.

Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to Your name give glory, because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth.

Psalm 115:1

Terry's Corner - February 2012

Test Piloting New Material for Alpha

Jean and I are privileged to be part of a team evaluating the Alpha 12-step program. We are implementing it at Woodman State Jail. It is so encouraging to see the results of both Alpha and Celebrate Recovery’s; Jesus is our deliverer and He sets captives free.

One of our participants, Nancy, had been in prison several times because of addiction issues. She was released from Woodman three days before Christmas. Nancy and her father, who is a District Attorney for the State of Texas, drove from Austin to Temple Bible’s Celebrate Recovery to join us in January. She introduced us to her father because he personally wanted to thank us.

Nancy sent the following email:

I’d like to let the women at Woodman know I am still clean and sober. It will give them hope knowing that someone like me can make it! I am also still living for God. I attend CR and a weekly Bible study. God is definitely my deliverer. I am building on a solid foundation. Thank you Terry, Jean and Jake for reaching me. God is working miracles in my life daily.

Opportunity to Make a Difference

God is multiplying our discipleship programs in astonishing proportions! Please pray that He will continue to raise up volunteers and donors to help us meet the needs of these great opportunities.

Thank YOU for Your Support

We couldn’t do what we do without YOU! Thank you for helping us minister to the people Jesus is reaching in the prisons!

The Power of Prayer

As many of you know, I grew up in a homewhere there was constant chaos and fighting. My teen years were very turbulent. I carried heavy baggage with me on each long step of my journey. I did not have the courage or faith to embrace hope. However, during my childhood days, I had a grandmother who believed God and prayed for me daily. She spoke these words of faith into my broken heart.

One day you will grow up and you will become a missionary. You will travel to Africa and tell people about Jesus.

africa_sized
africa_sized

The miracle is that God brought me out of darkness into His marvelous light. He has also sent me to Africa. The sorrow of my past has become an instrument of healing for others.

We have a Redeemer. Thank you for your prayers. They are a huge support and encouragement to me!

Prayer Requests

  • Alpha has asked Terry to test-pilot a new recovery program for them! He is teaching the material on Wednesday nights at Woodman State Jail.
  • Woodman Outreach! Four-day outreach at Woodman, November 3-6.
  • The worship team.
  • Nancy Grisham as she comes to teach.
  • Many volunteers who will go out into population to minister to the 800 women housed there.
  • Jesus to set the captives free!

Karla Faye Tucker's Story

Karla Faye TuckerKarla's Childhood

Karla Faye Tucker was born November 18, 1959, in Houston, Texas. “As a little girl, I remember that we were a family,” Karla said when I asked about her background.

“We lived in a middle-class neighborhood and went to the bay house where we water-skied and fished. But that period didn’t last very long. My parents fought a lot and divorced each other several times.”

As her parents’ turmoil increased, Karla’s life began unraveling. Her first experience with drugs came when she was seven or eight. “I caught (my older sisters) smoking pot and threatened to tell our parents,” she told the Gatesville Messenger in 1998 (January 30). “But they gave it to me and then said I couldn’t tell because I was doing it, too.”

Karla remembered one brief encounter with what seemed to be a normal life. “At school this little girl would talk to me. I remember seeing something really different in her. It was like a genuine love for people. But her parents didn’t want her hanging around with me because they thought that I was just a bad, bad child.

“Somewhere along the way, she talked her mother into letting me go to church with them. I think they must have been very conservative because they wore something on their heads and had to wear dresses. We sat on the front row. At some point, she was down on her knees and really praying in the Spirit. I thought, ‘What is going on here?’ Everybody came and laid their hands on her. I don’t remember doing anything wrong that night, but they never would talk to me again. Why didn’t they reach out to me? Why did they cut me off?”

Karla’s Adolescence

Life at home was rapidly deteriorating. Any chance of a normal childhood disintegrated. “Back then there was a lot of drugs and sex. My sisters ran around with older people. One of their friends was in a biker club. He came to see my sisters; and when he found out they weren’t there, he took me off on his motorcycle. He asked me if I wanted to shoot some heroin. I think he was going to molest me.

But he shot me so full of heroin that I got sick and he wasn’t able to do anything. He ended up dropping me off at some apartments. That was the beginning of me shooting dope.” By the time Karla was in seventh grade, she was heavily into drugs and dropped out of school. “I got kicked out as much as quit,” she said. When her parents divorced for the last time, she chose to live with her mother, Carolyn Moore. Life with her mom was unrestricted, with little or no adult supervision.

“There were a couple of things my mother did that made me wonder, ‘Don’t you see what you are doing to me? Why don’t you notice this and come to me and ask what is going on?’” In spite of inner turmoil and confusion, Karla wanted to be just like her mother. When Karla was only 14, she followed her mother into prostitution.

Road To Death Row

When Karla was about 16 years old, she met Stephen Griffith. In a Houston Chronicle article published on the day of Karla’s execution, Griffith described their relationship:

“I was 19 years old. I had a Harley-Davidson, worked six months a year, and made $20,000. I thought I was on top of the world. Me and a bunch of buddies pulled into a local park. We were hanging out and partying. Karla Faye and one of her friendswere over there smoking a fat, pink joint. I hollered over and introduced myself. That’s how we met.”

About a year later, they married. “We got along fairly well,” Griffith said. “We fist-fought a lot. I’ve never had men hit me as hard as (Karla) did. Whenever I went into a bar, I didn’t have to worry because she had my back covered. She was tough.” For fun, the couple collected guns, joined a motorcycle club, and played tackle football without protective gear.

“I saw things in her that no one else did,” Griffith said. “That girl had so much potential. She could talk to anyone and make them feel at ease. She was charismatic. Even when she was on drugs and could hardly walk, she was beautiful.” Griffith himself had serious substance abuse problems. Still, he described Karla as a “pretty good wife”—she cleaned the house, got him off to work on time, and fixed his meals.

When Karla announced she was leaving Griffith to work out her “wild streak,” he feared the worst. “When we split, I told my friend she was going to get killed or kill somebody.”

Once separated from her husband, Karla continued downward in her life of drugs and prostitution. Periodically, over a span of several years, she was one of the groupies following the Allman Brothers Band. In 1981, she met Jerry Lynn Dean when he was involved with her best friend and roommate, Shawn. From the beginning their relationship was turbulent. The animosity between them developed over the next two years. By 1983, Karla was living with a man named Danny Garrett in a tumultuous household where drugs, sex, and physical fights were the norm. She was the group’s leader.

On June 11, 1983, Karla, her sister, and their friends decided to celebrate her sister’s birthday with a weekend bash. From Friday through Sunday, they sat around the house shooting heroin, smoking cocaine, and popping massive quantities of other illegal drugs.

It was then—high on drugs, sleep-deprived, and talking about old grudges—that Karla and Danny decided to drive over to Jerry Dean’s apartment and case it out in the hope of stealing his motorcycle. They weren’t expecting him to be home. However, Jerry Dean and Deborah Thornton, who had just met that afternoon at a party, were asleep in the bedroom. At about 3:00 a.m. on June 13, 1983, Danny and Karla silently entered the apartment.

Something went horribly wrong. Instead of stealing a motorcycle, Danny and Karla murdered two people. Just weeks after Karla’s marriage to Stephen Griffith officially ended in divorce, Karla Faye Tucker was charged with the pickax murders of Jerry Lynn Dean and Deborah Thornton.

Life Row

The Karla who testified in court was dramatically different from the woman who had committed a heinous crime months earlier. While awaiting trial, Karla had come to have a faith in Jesus Christ and His redemption.

A remarkable change in her had taken place. The cold-blooded killer who had hidden from authorities became a repentant and emotional woman who confessed to the murders she had committed, testifying during the punishment phase of her trial that even being pickaxed herself would be insufficient to atone for her crime.

Last Words

“When I share that I was out of it on drugs the night I brutally murdered two people, I fully realize that I made the choice to do those drugs. Had I chosen not to do drugs, two people would still be alive today. But I did choose to do drugs, and I did lose it, and two people are dead because of me.”—Karla Faye Tucker in her letter to Governor George W. Bush and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, January 1998 If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

February 3, 1998, 6:25 p.m., Walls Unit, Huntsville, Texas. With the strength and poise of a gymnast, Karla leapt up on the gurney and whispered a prayer:

“Lord Jesus, help them to find my vein.”

Then, strapped to the table, she looked toward the small window and spoke her last words.

“Can Warden Baggett hear me?”

After being assured that yes, the warden was nearby and was listening, Karla went on:

“I would like to say to all of you? The Thornton family and Jerry Dean’s family? That I am so sorry. I hope God will give you peace with this.”

“Baby, I love you,” she told her husband, Dana. “Ron, give Peggy a hug for me. Everybody has been so good to me. I love all of you very much. I’m going to be face to face with Jesus now.”

“Warden Baggett, thank you so much. You have been so good to me. I love all of you very much. I will see you all when you get there. I will wait for you.”

After her final words, she licked her lips and, according to witnesses, appeared to be humming softly as she waited for the lethal injection.