There's despair ... and then there's Joy. Deidre has lived in both places.
Updated: Sep 14
You and Jesus brought her from one place to the other.
It will take you two minutes to read her story . . . but I pray it will lodge in your heart, and change your life forever. Because Deidre’s life has been changed forever — thanks to you. Thanks to your support of Along Side Ministries.
She grew up with a secret mantra of four words: Don’t be like Mom. “My mother had men in and out of our home on a regular basis,” Deidre remembers. She was “verbally abusive.” Yes, she worked two jobs to make ends meet, but this meant she was absent for much of Deidre’s childhood.
No surprise that Deidre married at 17. He was the son of a prominent politician, and a drinker. He got her started using alcohol and then meth. He also began abusing her. They had four children together. Deidre was in a slow-motion tailspin, but she didn’t want her marriage to implode. Don’t be like Mom.
Her husband finally left her, and the children. Then one day, on a visit to his children, he offered Deidre a chilling warning: He was going to kill her.
Two days later, she was at a stoplight, and a car came out of nowhere at 75 mph. It was him. His vehicle struck her door, totaled Deidre’s car, and pushed it into the car behind her. An undercover cop saw it all. Still, Deidre was haunted by her past. Don’t be like Mom. She wanted to stick with one guy. She dreamed of a happy family. She testified on behalf of her ex.
He went to prison anyway. Meanwhile, Deidre was trapped in a prison of her own — still addicted to the drugs he had introduced her to. Heroin lost her the children — to her ex, after his release. Deidre went to prison, got out, went back to drugs, went back to prison.
“I was just done,” she remembers. She was reeling with suicidal thoughts. “I went back to my cell and I cried out to God.” She didn’t even know who or what God was. She was just that desperate. “God, I don’t know what to do,” she cried. “I wanted to give up.”
Don’t be like Mom wouldn’t work anymore. Deidre needed something more.
This is where the miracle happened. An inmate was passing by Deidre’s cell and gave her a
Bible. Deidre sat down with it, and it fell open to Isaiah 41:10: “Do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
From that day, something changed. “I was walking on a cloud,” Deidre recalls. “I felt light, the stress was gone, I had no worries. I was at peace.”
God led Deidre to Along Side Ministries, to our ministry inside her prison. We accepted her into our program, and connected her to a mentor, Chrissy, who began faithfully visiting Deidre in prison. “She is so supportive!” Deidre says. “I love my mentor!”
The day Deidre was released, it was Chrissy who picked her up — and brought her “real” clothes to wear.
“I was welcomed home at Along Side Ministries,” Deidre says. “It was the greatest feeling. We had church in the living room. It was really nice. When you get out and come to Along Side, it feels like you’re at home.... It’s full of Jesus, no stress, no worries.”
Now the hard work began. After prison, finding work is a challenge — especially in a pandemic. But thanks to generous friends like you, Along Side was there for Deidre, every step of the way. “They kept encouraging me,” she says, “telling me, ‘Don’t lose hope, it’ll come when the time is right.’” Sure enough, after about a month, Deidre got a job. “I never thought I could make it this far, or do what I’m doing now!” she says. “It’s all thanks to Along Side.”
We reconnected her to her family — and as you read these words, we’re helping her get her driver’s license back. We’re helping her learn to budget. “I actually have some money in savings now!” she exclaims happily. “I have a lot to learn, but I’m looking forward to graduating, getting my own place, being very involved in my kids’ lives, and finding success on my own. Not relying on a man ... only on Jesus.”
Even her relationship with her mother has been transformed. Deidre’s mom calls her “an inspiration.” “It’s not me,” Deidre says, “it’s Jesus.”
JOY IN JESUS. That’s the heart of our ministry. And your generosity makes it possible. Deidre could easily have relapsed into her old life. But your love reached out to her, in that prison, and laid a foundation of spiritual support for her ... not only “inside,” but “outside,” after her release. She is strong today, by God’s grace, thanks to your generous giving.
Today, I ask you to give again, as generously as possible — and to pray. The pandemic has made ministry difficult. It’s hard to get into prisons, and live-streaming technology enabling face-to-face contact is almost non-existent in Arizona prisons. It would take $10,117 to provide the necessary tech for the prisons where we’re ministering.
You helped bring Deidre from despair to joy. But to keep doing what we’re doing, we need your help today. Please let me hear from you quickly. We need your help — because so many, in prison and out, need us ... and need Jesus. Thank you in advance! God bless you!
Yours in Christ,
P.S. As you think about giving, please note: Your gift can earn you a dollar-for-dollar credit against your state taxes, due to the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit. Claim up to $400 of your gifts to Along Side if you file singly, or $800 if you file jointly. Thank you again!