Nine years ago, in the fall of 2005, Terry and Jean joined Dallas and me in ministry in Texas. In 2008, Dallas went to be with the Lord. Looking back we can see how God was preparing us for His purposes
We visited the women in hospice. Claudia, one of the inmate patients, was in her final stages of liver cancer. She looked at me and said, “Oh! You’re Terry’s mother. I met you at Woodman State Jail.” Claudia spoke about how she loved it when Terry sang He Rescued Me! “That’s what Jesus did for me. This is so difficult for my daughter and my mother. But now I know the Lord.”
Then we prayed, and from her deathbed she began to sing How Great is our God! Karen, the Chaplain’s assistant who is also an inmate, came with us to bring Bibles and books. She had just received a two-year set off. She has been in prison 19 years and was with me the night of Karla’s execution.
Before we went into the hospice unit she told me, “I’m a mess today. I’m trying to figure out how to tell my family I will not see the parole board again for two more years.” However, when Claudia began to sing, I looked across at Karen. Tears were streaming down her face, and in her brokenness, she sang How Great is our God.
Terry and Jean Strom moved to Texas eight years ago to join Discipleship Unlimited. The Lord has opened doors above and beyond! Many have received freedom and healing through their Christ-centered recovery group at Woodman State Jail.
They both minister in our Faith-Based Dorms, and Jean is attending a seminar to help equip offenders to prepare for the job market. Terry is our worship leader.
We love the joy of worshiping with those behind the fences. Keep Terry and Jean in your prayers as they press on to take the prize ...
Brittany Holberg has been on death row in Mountain View prison for 13 years. I first met her while I still lived in Milwaukee. However, for the last several years I have had the opportunity to be Britt’s spiritual advisor. This summer Britt was sent to the Amarillo county jail to appear before a judge. She came back on fire for God!
"I felt overwhelmed with fear at times before I left for the county jail. I prayed for strength and wisdom. From the moment I left my cell I saw answers to my desperate prayer. It has been 13 years since I'd seen the outside world and I was in awe of God's creation. The officers who drove the state car and escorted me were curious about "life on the row."
I found myself talking freely about my walk with Jesus. The more I talked about Him the less I thought about my situation. I'd heard and even confessed to letting go and letting God take over. I was put to the test!
On death row we are housed in individual cells, isolated from general population. Not so in the Amarillo jail. I was housed with other women. I recognized the brokenness in the women around me. I could relate to their lostness and the bondage of guilt and shame that is far greater then prison bars. I had a desire to share the love that I have found in Christ with them. I wanted them to see Jesus in me the way I see Jesus in Jean.
I never imagined how powerful my own testimony could be. My purpose now is to share His grace and mercy with as many people as I can."
I look forward to my twice-monthly visits with Britt. Her courage and faith spur me on!
Blessings to you,
Jean (& Terry too)
Thank you, ministry partners, for funding the Ruth Project! Thank you, Dee Brestin, for using your gift to teach those behind the walls.Nearly 200 women at the Mt. View Unit participated in our first Ruth DVD Bible Study. With the leadership of Kathy and Rich Diaz, along with their well-trained team of volunteers, the inmates watched the teaching DVD and worked through lesson one of the study book. Our prayer and desire has been that this seven-week study would be relevant and produce disciples. As the women participated in the first discussion, guided by their volunteer leader, it was clear that God is answering our prayers.
Karla Faye Tucker is our example of a contemporary Ruth. She was also housed in the Mt. View unit. Karla was a woman with a painful past who was radically saved and walked with unwavering faith. She pressed through great hardship. In the time leading up to her execution, Karla became a witness to the world. Her powerful testimony continues to multiply as it is shared throughout the Ruth study. We will also use this study guide to follow up with those who read the book Karla Faye Tucker Set Free and ask for study material. Today, more than 250,000 copies are in print, and letters are received daily. Her story of faith and transformation lives on!
Thank you, ministry partners, for your faithful prayers and support for the 120 inmates in our 18-month discipleship course at Murray and Hobby units!
Many graduates are now in the prison’s general population and are holding Bible studies for their fellow inmates. The following letter is from Lori, one of our graduates. This is just one example of how God is changing lives through the Faith Dorms:
Dallas’ legacy will live on through the women in white spreading the gospel of Jesus one to another. None of us will ever be the same. During my time in the faith dorm I have learned what family really means. I’ve learned about extending mercy to myself as well as others. I’ve learned to be accountable and to never accept defeat. You have taught me that the ground is level at the foot of the cross. My goal is to love others the way you do. The entire faith based dorm team is embedded on my heart forever.
Thank you, ministry partners, for your prayers and support for Terry and Jean. We are so grateful for the fruit that Terry and Jean are seeing as God changes lives through their ministry both inside of prison walls and out. They often do Sunday services at the various units as well as orientation for the newly incarcerated women. This has been an amazing year with a packed room every Wednesday for Celebrate Recovery at Woodman State Jail. Thank you for your prayers for them as they lead these vital ministries.
Here is a letter from Tiffany, a former inmate at Woodman, who was one of their participants:
I attended Celebrate Recovery with you. I appreciate how you relate to us and understand about the importance of our children. Now that I am home I am reunited with my son. We both faithfully attend CR twice a week. Thank you!
Through your giving, DU provides books and ministry materials that are so desperately needed by those behind the walls—and God is changing lives. Thank you for your partnership in the Gospel. It is Jesus’ good, glad, merry news that makes us sing for joy!