I learn so much when I go beyond this barbed wire. Despite our differences, we all share the same bond of needing love, respect, grace, and dignity.
On a recent visit to a local prison, I stood face-to-face with women whose tears fell in a continuous stream; women who felt like they failed their children and families; women who wanted so badly to start over again.
They shared stories of relentless abuse, deception, and every sin you can imagine. Some women had been sold by their parents; others were abandoned; one woman was battered beyond recognition for fourteen days and was sentenced to 20 years to think about her part in the story of her child’s death. Had she trusted the wrong person? Had she protected her abuser? Did she wish she could go back and be the mother she intended to be? Yes, to all of it.
In my opinion, these are some of the most forgotten people of our society.
In Texas, you can hear a live band or a speaker any day of the week; but inside these walls, that’s not the case. So when we arrived they were overcome with joy, gratitude, and a glimpse of hope. They had been lingering in the endless drudgery and hardness of prison life–waiting for someone to give them a word of encouragement.
I was overcome with emotion in the days following, and still as I write this, my heart aches for them. Our ministry is seriously looking at ways to help these women on a more consistent basis–by breathing life and hope into their days of confinement–which for some, will end in the near future; but for others, that day is far, far away. Can you imagine how that must feel?
Ministries and fellowships like ours give these women an opportunity to reflect on what put them inside these walls; recast a vision of who they want to be in the future; receive and release forgiveness for themselves and others; and finally, to reinvent themselves. To repent, to renew, and be whole again. Isn’t this what grace and being reborn is about? No matter what previous roads they traveled, they need to know there is a new beginning for them in Christ; and most importantly, God is preparing a place for them for eternity.
The more I go behind these walls, the more I see we all have different stories, yet God loves us the same.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
At the age of 18, I was recovering from an eating disorder, cutting, and suicide when I read Jennifer Strickland’s book Girl Perfect and it changed my life. At the age of 33, as I travel the world reaching youth for the gospel, this is the only book I recommend to girls who are struggling. The Lord has truly anointed Jennifer’s words through her story, not only to address the struggles of today’s generation of girls, but also to walk them through the healing necessary for victory.
Jennifer is a captivating speaker. She keeps the listener hanging in wonder of what’s coming next! Her presentation is not only absorbing, it reveals the truth of God’s power to heal a wounded spirit.
Barbara Brown, Former Stonecroft Ministries Regional Representative, San Diego, CA
“The ‘P’ word [perfection] may be the heaviest burden women bear. All the misguided things we do to attain it can keep us away from what we need most – the unconditional love of God the Father. The Girl Perfect Study Guide gives you a map to the wholeness you were created for.”
Nancy Ortberg, author and former teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church
“The Girl Perfect Study Guide shatters the lies girls and women believe and points to the ultimate truth, which really does set us free. I am confident that this study will help thousands discover a beauty, purpose, and worth that truly lasts. Thank you Jen for exposing the ‘perfect life’ and inviting girls to experience God’s ‘perfect love.'”
Allie Marie Smith
Allie Marie Smith, Founder of Wonderfully Made
One of the best testaments to what Jennifer is doing for the young girls and women of today is a comment from my eleven-year-old granddaughter: “Grammy, I want to read this book and hear her again. She’s good and I learned a lot.” This is exactly what I experienced from a grown-up perspective when I was introduced to Jennifer Strickland’s amazing story. Read it and see if you don’t get the real story from an icon model and a powerful speaker of truth.”