Enjoy this story from Trisha, a student in the Knox County Detention Facility.
I recently spent 11 months incarcerated in Knox County Detention Facility -- and it was the best 11 months of my life. Now, don't get me wrong. I absolutely hate jail!! But the transformation God made in my life while I was incarcerated is what made it the best experience of my entire life.
About 6 months into my incarceration, I applied for FOCUS. I had learned about the program from my cellmate, who left me all her FOCUS workbooks. So, now I have applied for FOCUS and almost didn't make it in because of my disciplinary record. The FOCUS volunteer interviewed me and told me she was going to take a chance on me. So, I got in -- and thank God I did.
The FOCUS program not only introduced me to God, but taught me more than I could ever learn on my own or would even take the initiative to learn. I also learned how to apply this knowledge to my life and to form a personal relationship with God. I know all of this doesn't sound like much, but God have me a completely new and different life because of this program. Growing up poor, not attending church, becoming a teen mom, losing my kids and then becoming an addict on top of traumatic experiences throughout.
FOCUS was my lottery ticket and Jesus my prize. I am forever thankful for this program. It truly saved my life.
From a Knox County Men's volunteer sharing about his Team 3 class. Team 3 is comprised of men who have completed one semester at Knox County and stay on helpers and students for an extra semester(s).
I think I've been encouraged (given courage to continue) by the Knowing God class as I have been by any class. There have been some profound transformations in the men of this class. From hopeless to encouraged by answered prayers. From brokenhearted to a peaceful acceptance of the Father's will. In the words of Jesus, "Nevertheless, not my will but Your will be done." From resentful, angry and "leave me alone" to hugging their brothers in Christ and expressing the love of and for Christ with tears of sadness and joy.
The class, Team 3, have become helpful and encouraging mentors to the men in their first semester. Sometimes we as facilitators may wonder if it's worth it. It's times like this semester that our Father and the Lord Jesus encourage us by the more immediate fruit of our efforts. Perhaps it is more often the case that we may not see it until that great banquet where we will see many of those in which the seed of the word of God was planted.
From a Knox County Jail & Bledsoe County Prison Women's Volunteer.
Often I will develop a relationship with an inmate at Knox County who will eventually end up at Bledsoe. The bond already established at Knox County is carried over when the person gets to Bledsoe and I have interaction with them they are on a different level. Such is the case with Jenny.
I had been experiencing many health issues this year and the inmates at Knox County and Bledsoe have been praying for me. The doctors were baffled I didn’t know quite what was causing it. Prior to a pulmonology appointment, Jenny approached me one night at Bledsoe and sat down beside me and told me that the Lord has been speaking to her telling her that something I was taking was poisoning me. I wasn’t quite sure what to think of that, but I could honestly tell that Jesus was working with her.
I went to the pulmonologist later that week and my lungs checked out clear and so did my heart, but the doctor and I began talking about supplements and discovered that I was massively overdosing on vitamin D3 to the point of causing toxic effects in my body. It was a potentially dangerous thing in this have been going on for about three years. I immediately thought of what Jenny had told me. After stopping my supplements, within two weeks all of my heart issues were resolved and I fell back to normal energy for the first time in several years. No more headaches, no more nausea and no more fatigue.
However, this testimony is not about me. It is about Jenny and the gifts of God within her and how the Lord worked through her that night to give me a word fitly spoken. I testified the next week at Bledsoe and praised God for how God had worked through her to speak what I needed to hear. It is truly a blessing to see God work through these women, to see them grow and to see them become stronger in their faith and determination to follow Christ and turn their lives around. To God be the glory!
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On September 14 & 15 2019, Shawn Stutz, Executive Director of FOCUS Ministries, will be cycling from Atlanta, Georgia to Anniston, Alabama on the Silver Comet (GA) & Chief Ladega Trail (AL). This is a 2-day, 200-mile round trip banking 100 miles and over 5-hours of pedaling a day.
You are being challenged to donate to & promote the cause! This endurance with purpose challenge is designed to fund the cause of Second Chances for the men and women re-entering society after serving their time in East TN jails and prisons.
Therefore 100% of the moneys raised will benefit this great work! Please share this special event with others -- the more the merrier.
From a FOCUS Volunteer:
I had the opportunity to teach last semester on a series, WHY PRAY? - THE RESULTS! Near the end of these sessions, two inmates asked that I teach on FASTING. The next week this volunteer taught on the example of Jesus, His words fulfilling scripture (Isaiah 58:6) and for us “to set the captives free”.
After this lesson, one of the responsive inmates said that he had already been fasting and praying for his unit the preceding week. After a time of fasting he had a dream in which the Lord impressed him to pray for a specific inmate, whom he did not know, had never met, and was described by the other inmates, as “normally high on drugs.”
When the inmate approached to engage in conversation, he asked him, “Do you have a need, and if so, can I pray with you about it?”. Immediately the man said in a hostile tone, “I do not want or need prayer! You should go and pray for someone else!” The inmate with the dream replied, “That God knew him, described him and even told me your name”. The man’s eyes widened in bewilderment. He became more responsive to the Good News in the following days! To God be the Glory!
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