Our clients come to us during the worst moments of their lives. Incarceration is never easy on anyone, and our clients regularly feel as though they have reached the lowest point of their life. Some have lost family members or spouses during their incarceration, and many believe that God has abandoned them.
At Riverside House, we provide resources and Spiritual Guidance to help our clients find their strength and faith to pursue a more fulfilling life for themselves and their family while serving God.
Here is one story written by a client who found herself straying from the righteous path, which led her and her husband to prison. However, through her remaining faith, as well as support from Riverside House, she was able to get herself back on the right path to freedom and service to the Lord.
It was Mother’s Day 2015, and I was just finishing a delicious lunch with my closest family members. At the time, I was seven months pregnant with my second daughter, Alina. My husband and I were talking and making plans to go to the Sunday night service at Christ Fellowship, as we had faithfully attended church with just my oldest daughter, Amaia, for almost three years. The years leading up to this glorious day were plagued with major swings up and down in my personal and professional life. However, I had been blessed with children and a husband, family, friends and a career in International Finance that allowed me to travel and meet business leaders, which provided me with the income to meet my family’s physical needs.
Toward the end of that Mother’s Day lunch, as I was sipping on my second glass of wine, my sister gave me the news that not only confirmed my fears but showed just how broken I was spiritually and emotionally. “Federal Agents contacted me, and they are going to contact you and Gus next.” This was the bad news that put an end to the seemingly-positive trajectory in my life. I felt slightly numb, partly due to the wine that I had been drinking, but deep inside I knew that life as I knew it had ended. You see, after more than 12 years of fighting legal battles and hanging around unscrupulous business associates, my alcoholism and drug abuse escalated to the point where I also became unscrupulous and involved in crime. I let my guard down, and I allowed things other than God to be first in my life. Though Jesus has been in my heart since the age of 12, I still managed to fall short. The Bible teaches us that all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God, but the good news is that God is love and love covers a multitude of sins.
Fast forward through a two-year federal prison sentence, I sat in a halfway house in Miami remembering God’s faithful love throughout this period. From having a top-notch attorney defend me at no cost, to having my 65-260-year proposed sentence, for all intents and purposes a life sentence, reduced to 48 months, to maintaining daily communication with my children and incarcerated husband of 13 years, God’s goodness and faithful love has remained with me every single day of my life.
I am not the same person who went to prison for the first time only 28 months ago. I emerged, thanks to the love, grace, and kindness of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I am a woman who does not hide behind alcohol to avoid facing problems anymore, and I have been clean for 28 months. Though I am far from perfect, I remain positive, open-minded, grateful, full of hope and in love with the beauty and privilege of life. By no means was imprisonment easy or comfortable, but God was faithful and got me through it. He provided me with friends and even officers to take care of me. He provided an intense drug abuse program that allowed me to finally admit and confront my alcohol and drug addictions. He allowed me the opportunity to go back to freedom, and he kept my children safe, loved, and well cared for while their parents were incarcerated. With the confidence that only comes from knowing and being loved by an all-powerful and gracious God, I am alive and well despite all my past and current hardships; knowing that He who started a good work in my life will complete it. As such, I encourage anyone facing a difficult situation to stand firm in the faith; to be strong and courageous; to seek God and His righteousness daily, remembering always that God loves you and forgives you.
Please join us in our mission to provide second chances for a more positive and fulfilling life to ex-offenders. We welcome your financial contributions to Riverside House so that we can continue to grow and help our clients return to a more productive life path. You may donate here.