Welcome Home Women
Welcome Home Ministries
God’s Gift of Salvation Posted by CMCA on May 25, 2012 in Journal, Missio Dei Corrections Vol. 1, No 2,
Online Journal, Prison, Reentry Ministry, Religion in Prisons, Returning Citizens, strengths, Women RETURNING CITIZEN PERSPECTIVE
God’s Gift of Salvation by Vietta Ray, Board member at Welcome Home Ministries
Running away was always my answer to dealing with issues, but I never seemed to run fast enough. Eventually I was caught, first by the law, and then by the Lord. Stuck in prison and full of turmoil God showed me, through the stories of others, that if I would turn my life over to Him, He could turn my life around. A difficult reentry led me to Welcome Home Ministries, both to receive and to give. Today I can see that “what began as turmoil, has become a powerful testimony and witness to our Lord.”
THE TURMOIL BEGINS
Running away was always my answer to dealing with issues that I had no idea how to handle, so in 2000, instead of going to my God for the answers to my problems, I ran to the world again. After being away from the life of drugs and criminal behavior for five (5) years, it didn’t take long for me to get right back to where I had left off. My world began spinning out of control at a rapid speed. I would sneak off to N.A. meetings to find out whether I really had a problem. Of course, I knew I had a problem but I was not willing to admit my own lack of control.
IN THE MIDST OF THE TURMOIL
On the night of October 22, 2004 I was planning to run away again, this time from drugs and a bad relationship. I had this great plan to get arrested so I could get clean and all would be good, however when a person is under the influence of drugs, the enemy is running rampant in their mind and I certainly had handed him the keys to mine. I committed a robbery with a BB gun and was arrested within 15 minutes of leaving the gas station. My first year of incarceration, I felt like I was in the middle of a tug-a-war between God and the evil one. I was unable to think with any clarity in my mind. I battled with my attorney all the way to the end of my trial, not wanting to face the consequences of my actions. I sat in that jail cell feeling so alone day after day, night after night, in great turmoil.
THE QUIETING OF THE TURMOIL
Eventually, I started reading everything, trying to quiet my mind so I started with murder mysteries, true crime, even love stories, and all that did was plant more weeds and gave power to the confusion I was already living in. That’s when God started pulling at my heart. I got rid of all those books and started focusing on the Bible and self-help books. I read the Bible and anything spiritual that I could find. When I would read the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, I recognized that many of the stories were about people’s lives that were changed when they started doing volunteer work. I decided that was something I needed to do, because I needed my life changed.
SEEING THE LIGHT: THE SOLUTION
Finally, calling out to God to please forgive me, my relationship with Him really began. I read the Bible and I felt as though it was speaking directly to me and only me. Some of what I was reading scared me because I did not fully understand the solution, but God’s love gave me a radical change of heart and transformed my life. Acceptance of Christ as my personal Savior changed the route I had been traveling in life. In March 2008, I was released from prison. I knew there would be obstacles to overcome and at times it would be overwhelming.
Every night I went to a community soup kitchen to eat dinner and connect with other services. One of the pastors told me about a place called Welcome Home Ministries that helped women coming out of prison. On the bus ride to find this place, I asked the lady seated next to me if she knew where it was. Wow, she was on her way there herself, to volunteer, and she said she would be happy to take me. I know that was God, walking by my side, guiding me where He wanted me. The lady who greeted me had previously walked in my shoes but she was there for me with open arms. I knew from that day I would be doing something just like her.
I went to Welcome Home with my own set of problems, but I was there to help. I began picking up women from prison or the county jail and taking them to a program, the same place where my journey had actually began. I found myself reaching out the same way someone had reached out to me.
Today I have a letter writing ministry that reaches out to women in jails and prisons and shares the joy of the Lord that I feel. People have said “Vietta you have such a glow about you since you have been working with Welcome Home Ministries.”
I let them know that is the Lord, giving Him the glory and praise. There have been days in the past when I just wanted to stay in my bed, but now the Lord moves me in ways that I look back on and wonder, “How did I do that”? It was My Friend, giving me what I longed for, to actually be loved and to love others.
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:24)
I’m currently assisting with the restructuring of the North County office of Welcome Home Ministries. I have been meeting weekly with a group of women strategizing how the office will run., We are focused on serving Women and Men in our area and staying centered in GOD’S work. It is important to me that we’re able to effectively minister to God’s Children in practical ways. Currently we are coordinating appointments for women to be tested for Hepatitis C. Soon we will be losing the coordinator of our dental program so I will take on that responsibility as needed.
What began as turmoil, has become a powerful testimony and witness to our Lord.
Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 NASB)