The phone rang today. I heard a recorded voice announce I had a call from "Trish", would I accept this free call? The recording then said "after your free call you will be directed to our operators to set up an account to continue taking calls from this number". I knew in an instant that our friend, "Trish" was trying to call from inside Williamson County jail. She answered, we said a quick hello and then just as she started to say "they are going to..." the call cut off. Literally within about 20 seconds our "free call" was disconnected.
I sighed and tried to move through the process of setting up our cell phone for a prepaid account. I tried to get them to quote rates to me. I tried to establish a minimum that was required to set up this "prepaid account". I spent about 45 messing around their website and on the phone trying to wade through the muck that is set up for friends and family to accept calls from those incarcerated. I somehow, through God alone, stayed calm but was not able to set things in motion. I wasn't about to give this outfit my credit card number! Uh no thank you! Then as I perused their website, to the best I could determine, they wanted to charge me $4.65 a MINUTE! Seriously!
I went to the county website, logged on to see our friend's booking information and realized why she was calling. She's about to be moved from Williamson County to Hays County. She's at day 39 and in no more than 45 days, the offense county has to come get her. She's pulling chain tonight and I know exactly why she is calling. She wants someone to know where she is!
So often, during the process of adjudicating someone, they are moved from county to county, then to state facilities; always without time or the ability to notify anyone. In this process a woman is taken by strangers from location to location. She feels alone, lost and scared. Already with an uncertain future, she is moved around by strangers and treated with little respect or concern.
I know, I know! She got herself in this predicament, why all the sympathy?
Simple. She, as well as you and I, is a child of God. She is a wonderfully and fearfully made creation. She is God's.
As the system works to pass her from jail to jail, court to court; she is a number and at best a last name. She is a rap sheet, a list of charges and a disposition.
I have a task to insure she knows she is not lost. The rest of this week will be calling Hays County daily to find when she hits the booking files. I can send her emails there and get a response for her. I can let her know she is remembered and cared for through Christ's abundant love.
I have many thoughts about the various services that have cropped up to provide phone and card and mail service to inmates. I have as many thoughts about the commissary system inside the jails and prisons. At times, what is done to the families and friends and ministry workers that attempt to continue loving these lost men and women incarcerated, it seems a crime in itself. I have to check myself as I walk through these circumstances that I leave the injustices to Him to handle; my task is clear.
I truly love that God puts on my heart the ladies that come into our ministry. They may be the worst of the worst but He asks Mark and I daily to love them and show them the reality that is Christ. Glory to God that He opened this wonderful ministry to us and Glory to God that somehow, in the murky darkness of this world, we heard Him and responded.
Trish is not alone. God won't let her be!