January 18, 2016

My Return To Prison

The Journey
Original art by Anne Ashton
Prints and Giclees available upon request

Saturday I will walk back into a prison.

I’m different now in so many ways.

It’s truly amazing how God used a prisoner to set me free.

I certainly do not understand this journey through the prison system.

I’ve been locked in a windowed room with 2 juvenile male inmates inside a maximum-security facility. One didn’t know what the word “nourished” meant. His soul, his spirit, his emotions were never nourished by a loving family much less the God of love.

I’ve been locked in a room with almost 300 adult male inmates some of which had multiple life sentences, all were tatted, most worshipped in that maximum security chapel – not a guard was present. One man I met was sentenced to 124 years. He looked me in the eye and said, “Tell them (the people in the free) that we are grateful for their prayers. Tell them thank you for remembering us.”

I’ve watched women who have been walking in freedom for a short while stand before a judge and peacefully receive handcuffs because they skipped parole or failed the drug test they thought they could pass. In an instant they were barred from family, work, and life. Their cell was waiting in the back.

I stood in the courtroom hall, united with a prostitute against a plea bargain then waited weeks to hear the jubilant call that all charges were dropped, only to have her relapse months later into bondage. Years passed with no communication on her whereabouts. One day, unannounced, she showed up at my door and collapsed in my arms distraught because a year had passed since her teenage daughter had died from a heroin overdose.

I’ve been locked in with juvenile girls who have recently been released from prison. In that setting the locks kept people out as opposed to keeping the girls in. The bars on their emotions were clearly visible. They were descendants of drug dealers, users, abusers and victims. One was “broken” with consent from her dad who stood near. If home is a scary place imagine the world beyond the deadbolt.

I’ve walked alongside those who seem to be still locked up even though they walk among the free. I’ve seen them fail. I’ve seen them succeed. I’ve seen them return to their own vomit. I’ve come to realize it’s not vomit to them.

I have lived with one who was released and no longer comes around.

I thought my prison journey was over. I so wanted it to be. It’s too hard. It’s too painful. It’s too dark. It’s too much.


His ways are sweet. His call is gentle. His burden is light.

Saturday stares my heart in the face.

God has a message He wants me to share with 250 incarcerated adult women. I pray that as I am locked in, the Spirit of God sets us free.

I wonder if the wounds from my journey have healed enough (I’ve needed lots of help to heal). Can my heart love these hurting souls? Have my walls of self-protection crumbled so the Spirit of God can flow freely? Can I move out of the way enough so all they see is Jesus?

This I know for sure- Only God can set a prisoner free and I long to see that day.

Pray for me if you feel led. Pray for them. Pray for the team that invited me from Hidden Treasures Ministry.

Funny how God used a prisoner to set me free. He can use anyone to bring freedom. I didn’t know this at the beginning of the journey. I am different now. I am a prisoner that has been set free and I am compelled to continue on the freedom journey.