Hartland’s prison ministry team helped one grateful inmate find Jesus in His Word.
by Rachel Perry
“Sherita had been in prison for a total of 12 years,” relates prison ministry director Johny Carmouche, “but she had been in prison four times. This is what happens in prisons: it’s a revolving door. We do prison ministry because people don’t have to go back into prison. If they have the hope of Jesus Christ in their lives, it will keep them from returning.”
Ivonne Restrepo recalls her first memory of Sherita: “What caught my attention was her face. She looked angry all the time—the kind of person one might be afraid to approach—and she never uttered a word. When I’d ask her something like ‘How was your week?’ she would just grunt.” But as the group continued smiling and welcoming her, they began to see changes.
“After two months,” Ivonne continues, “she got engaged in the studies and started asking questions. I remember the first time she asked a question, it was about forgiveness. She said, ‘I need to know about this.’ And from then on, her response was so different. She asked more questions, and even began sharing praises and prayer requests. Soon she enrolled in correspondence Bible studies. She became one of our most enthusiastic members, sharing in every Bible study and defending the Hartland group whenever something negative happened.”
Sherita shares her side of the story: “I didn’t know a lot [about the Bible], and that’s what kept me coming back. I got close to God, and I found peace. I learned how to forgive, and that’s what really transformed my life. Not only did I learn forgiveness; I learned how to be humble. I felt the presence of God, and people saw that I was changing. Even the officers noticed! When I came home, people said, ‘You’ve changed!’ And I said, ‘That’s because I found God.’”
Since Sherita’s release, she has kept in touch with Ivonne and even shared her testimony at one of Hartland’s convocations. “She calls me every time she needs to make a decision,” Ivonne smiles. “She’ll say, ‘I need to pray with you.’”
“We need your prayers,” Ivonne concludes, “because the Holy Spirit is working not only in Sherita’s heart, but in many others.” We look forward to many more testimonies like Sherita’s!