Purple, turquoise, blue, green, and pink…these are a few of the favorite colors of the women at Exodus, a ministry that “empowers formerly incarcerated mothers and their children to achieve a productive and fulfilling life through Jesus Christ.” That is their mission statement and it is exactly what they strive to do…with great success.
An astounding 83% of previously incarcerated men and women return to prison within the first three years. For those women that spend time at Exodus, less than 4% return to incarceration.
If accepted after applying to live at Exodus, the women are given a fully furnished apartment with all of their basic living needs. They are asked to commit for a full year where they are given a second chance to truly change the course of their lives.
Once they have moved in, they are reconnected with their children who come to live with them. It may have been months or even years since they have seen their children. Exodus is the only organization in Texas that receives both women and their children into its care after the mother has been released from incarceration.
These women are taught vital skills such as parenting, money management, preparing for employment, and building relationships so they can learn how to live a productive life while being a good role model for their children.
My Exodus Experience
Exodus highly values nourishing their spiritual lives as well, with classes that include teaching the Bible and plenty of prayer. And that is where I came in to be a part of Exodus a few months ago.
I was asked to lead a six-week Bible study using my newly published book, Beauty in a Life Repurposed.
I must admit, I was a bit nervous for my first meeting with the women, having never known anyone with a prison record! But my anxiety was immediately laid to rest on that first day when I walked up to the security gate and was welcomed with the biggest smile from one of the residents.
It took no time for me to be completely at ease with them. What an amazing experience for me to hear the weekly stories from each of these beautiful women about all they had been through in their young lives and the incredible changes that were beginning to take place within their hearts, minds, and spirits.
They loved to talk about Jesus and who He is to each of them personally. They described Him as the Healer of their deep and painful emotional wounds, their Provider when they were in serious need, their Rock when everything around them was shaky and unstable, their Strength when they were weak, their Deliverer from all their sin and guilt, their Peace when they felt worried and anxious, their Hope when they had none, and their Radiance when all they knew was darkness.
How blessed I was to be able to be a part of their lives for those six weeks, hearing them share about their unbelievable life experiences so transparently from their hearts.
Our Story for His Glory
Each one of us is unique and created with a completely different story to tell. God had a plan for our lives before we were even born, but we often make decisions without Him that lead us in a direction resulting in pain, heartache, sadness, and disappointment.
The good news is that God is a talented Master Artist and can use your colorful experiences to create an incredible masterpiece, your story, on His canvas. Once you surrender and give God the brush, allowing Him to perfectly blend those colors in a way that only He can, your life becomes a beautiful, priceless work of art.
In addition to all of their amazing stories, the women had also shared with me the color they liked best. So for our last study, I gave each of them a gemstone bracelet in their favorite color with a touch of sparkle and a cross charm to remind them when they wear it of how precious they are (like a gemstone) and to reflect Christ through a life that sparkles.
How much more will each of us sparkle when we allow the Master Artist to use the many colors that make up our story for His glory no matter how far we stray from His perfect plan for our lives. We are a masterpiece in the making that will be completed with the final brushstroke when we see Jesus face to face, full of grace.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6
Sparkler #1: Prayer
Ask God to give you opportunities to use your many colorful life experiences – your story – for His glory.
Sparkler #2: Action
Include God in all of your decisions, following His guidance so you can stay on the perfect path He planned for your life long before your birth.
Sparkler #3: Challenge
Surrender your will and desire to be in full control of your life by giving God the brush to create a beautiful masterpiece, reflecting His amazing grace.
*To find out more about Exodus Ministries or how you can donate, please visit their website at exodusministries.org.
Kimberly Moore is a vintage costume jewelry expert, blogger, speaker, and author of Beauty in a Life Repurposed. To learn more, visit her website at kingdomsparkle.com.
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