Alive Behind Bars
July 2023 • Newsletter
“My first Along Side Ministries service was while serving LIFE for First Degree Murder.”
Sylvia Estrella came to know Christ in 1998 while in the county jail where she began reading the Bible. Up to that time her life was deep in the drug trade for 23 years.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
We sat down with Sylvia to learn more about her journey:
What are you incarcerated for?
First Degree Murder.
When did you come to Christ?
In 1998. I was in the county jail, and I began reading the Bible. There, I fell asleep and had a dream. In my dream, I looked over the kitchen counter and
saw a little girl. She was shaking and appeared to be high. Then suddenly, she began saying “I need sugar, I need sugar” repeatedly. This happens to some addicts when they are detoxing. THEN, I heard what must have been God’s voice saying. “This is what you are doing to people.” I knew it was an interaction with God. He was speaking to me about all the people, all the drugs, I had pushed for all those past 23 years.
After that, I was bonded out for about a year but returned for my trial. Then I heard the verdict – guilty of First- Degree Murder and sentenced to LIFE. My first Along Side Ministry service was in 2012 in the Lumley unit. There I was greeted by the teachers who showed me love and guided me in my walk with Christ. They were like family to me.
Why did you decide to apply for ASM’s
Doing life leaves you a lot of time to
think. I knew I wanted to draw closer
to God and wanted a program where I
would have a personal mentor to walk
along side of me. This was important
to me. I was confident that ASM would
provide me with what I needed. They are
very well known here in the Perryville
Women’s Prison, and so is their success
rate. I was accepted into the Discipleship
Program in November 2020.
Proverbs 15:22 Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed.
What do you do inside to continue growing your faith?
As well as attending ASM services and meeting with my mentor weekly, I lead a Bible study for some of the women here at Cruz on Saturdays. I’ve also studied and completed/graduated with an AA in Arts from Rio Solado and received my Criminology Certification from ASU – the first in my family to ever graduate college!
What does the future hold for you?
After serving 25 years I have a parole date of June 2024. And, if all goes well, I will be outside continuing my ASM program. This time in the residential side of the program where I get to spend more time with my mentor studying the WORD and Life-Skill groups. I’m very excited about this part of my journey – especially excited about my first meal – Wendy’s frosty and French fries!
What would you say to someone who is thinking about volunteering at ASM?
Is there any other more perfect way to honor God with your actions? I don’t think so. Volunteers make everything seem like it has meaning and point us to God. The time here is hard – volunteers make it bearable and become family.