New Outlook, New Life
After spending years in the federal and state corrections system, Marilyn was looking forward to her new life upon release. But instead, she dealt with discouragement and disappointment. She just couldn’t find a job. There were plenty of interviews, but once the felony history came up, that was the end. Both the case worker at the halfway house where she was staying and her parole officer suggested 70×7. Marilyn knew as soon as she got there that this was the answer. She realized that the staff really cared about her and that took a genuine interest in her case. And, as a new believer (she’d come to the Lord in prison), she wanted a biblically based program. As Marilyn put it, “If they believe what I believe, I can’t go wrong”.
Marilyn went through the “Changes” curriculum and received a mentor whom she still stays in contact with. The benefits to Marilyn have been a nurturing relationship and someone that she could talk with on spiritual matters.
Perhaps the biggest change for Marilyn has been her outlook. Largely because of her background and incarceration, she was victim to her own self-talk … “you’re not going to make it.” But Marilyn has learned to know and love herself and has discovered her own worthiness. She can look at the doors that closed and even the incarceration as all leading to a new and better life. And, she’s a powerful witness, telling her story whenever she spots the opportunity to help someone.
Marilyn now works full time and is also an accomplished artist.
A Life-changing Relationship – Amalia and Carole
When 18-year-old Amalia entered prison, anger and resentment ensured the first four of her 91⁄2 years would be isolated. Then, she saw an opportunity. Another inmate participated in a building trades program and Amalia wanted in. She asked the instructor, “Mr. B.” how to become a part of it, and he told her “ticket-free for 6 months.” He wanted to see that she could change her behavior. Mr. B. prepared her to be mentored by Carole, to hold down a full-time job and be promoted, and to excel at parole.
“People would never put us together, but here we are, and Carole is my Mentor for life.” Carole summed it up beautifully. “
Amalia has been easy to love because she is so responsive. Maybe she thought I was a bit crazy at first, but we were each vulnerable at the right times to build trust and here we are now with a precious friendship.”
Amalia and Carole would practice driving in a big church parking lot and she now has her driver’s license. She also moved into her own apartment and Carole’s family helped. And, in December, Amalia joined the 70×7 Holland Advisory Council.
It is amazing what God can do in 18 months!
Relationships Change Lives
I recently had a visit from the vice chairman of our state’s appropriations committee on corrections. His committee has $2 billion dollars to spend annually on corrections (prisons) – approximately 20% of the State of Michigan’s total budget. He wanted to find ways of being a better steward with that money. How refreshing! I was honored to talk to one of our leaders with that kind of earnest interest in doing good.
He wanted to learn how 70×7 Life Recovery was achieving a 4% recidivism rate when state-wide 30% of prisoners return to prison within three years of being released. He grasped both the financial cost of keeping people in prison as well as the human cost of children experiencing abandonment when a parent is taken a way for a really big time-out.
The answer, of course, as you know from your involvement with 70×7 Life Recovery and Criminal Justice Chaplaincy over the years, is that these lives are changed by relationship – relationship with volunteer
mentors and the staff of 70×7 that point them to the most important relationship with God.
Our government spends a lot of money to do good things, but it can’t change lives. However, the time and money that you invest in 70×7 Life Recovery is changing lives now and for eternity. You are part of advancing the Kingdom of God. Well done.
Tim Koning CEO
70×7 Life Recovery is: A faith-based 501(c)(3) that brings church, business and community to bear on the challenges of reentry for anyone with a criminal record. We serve anyone with a history of incarceration who is struggling to find their place as an independent, productive member of the community.
Submitted by Cheryl Wyma