Ann White and Kathy Urbanic on What Christians Need to Know About Prison Ministry

“Raise your hand if you have ever prostituted yourself to survive or to fund a drug addiction.”

I will never forget scanning that prison room where our weekly Bible study was being held to see not one, not some, but every single woman holding a hand up in the air. I will never forget the feeling of having my breath knocked out of me in shock as my throat got tight and I fought back tears. And I will never forget the transcending peace flooding the eyes of those women as they looked around and realized that they were not alone.

From my experience of holding Bible studies in different female prisons and hearing from directors, incarcerated women tend to do one of two things to cope with their circumstances: they isolate, feeling that nobody around them would be understanding, or they pursue homosexuality, something most of them have never touched before, in a last-ditch effort to feel connected with someone. But I’ve also learned that when you bring these women together for the purpose of learning God’s word, Jesus shows up.

I have seen imprisoned women open up to one another with their stories and find heart healing in these groups as they learn that they are not alone or shamefully different as the devil would like them to believe.

One such story that always stands out to me came from an inmate named Susan, who was never properly nurtured or cared for as a child.

She revealed to me that because she had been rejected, she was always searching for love and to be loved. 

“One of the ways they [pimps] get us is that they prey on us and see that we will do anything for love. Now, I realize they are pimps, but at the time, I didn’t know that. I thought it was a dream come true and that I had found my prince charming, because a man was finally showing me what seemed like positive attention.”

The remainder of her story is one I have heard a hundred times. A man shows her attention, promising to love her and take care of her. She is led to his hotel room or apartment and is given strong opioids with the promise that they will “enhance” their sexual experience. Before the night is over, she has been violated and is now hooked on the drug, willing to do anything to feed the addiction introduced by her pimp.

You can probably imagine the rest.

Susan was sitting in on that Bible study where she learned that all of her fellow inmates had been prostituted as well, and when the group dismissed, she came to me and told me something that continues to remind me why this ministry is so worth it and so needed. She looked me in the eyes and said,

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Source: Christian Headlines