Last night I talked to Juanita, the mother of an ex offender, out on parole. This strong, multi-lingual woman has taken herself from first generation American to impressive female business owner who has supported her two children through opening and running an English as a second language school in Mesquite, Texas. She has worked hard and earned her way. She is a Christ believing, spirit filled mother who for years has been tormented by her children's choices.
You see, both her son and daugther have chosen a life of drugs, night clubs, partying, laziness and fast money schemes.
Her daugther, the one with whom I was calling to inquire about was in WILCO with me back in '07. She was one of several who would spend their nights up reading Christian teaching books, the Bible and praying together. As the days passed, she was sentenced to 5 years TDC and was paroled out in February of 2008. I had picked her up from the Gatesville Unit and spent the day delivering her to her parole officer, and then to her family for a reunion that brought a lump in my throat.
During Monica's stay in TDC, I began vising her monthly to encourage her to continue her walk with Christ and to create after release plans that included church attendance, bible study and a real reconciliation with her mother most of all.
Juanita was so pleased to hear from me last night though she had nothing positive to report on her daughter She has no idea where she is living or working or how she is making her money. The only reason she knows she is still alive is because of the cell phone on their family plan that Monica uses; and when she doesn't receive Monica's payment for her portion, Mom, utilizing boundaries with her children, cuts off her phone which always prompts a call from daughter. But as she said, at least then I know she is still alive; otherwise I would have no idea is she is okay.
Juanita is tired, she is sad and yet she is also determined that strong boundaries with her children are the only thing she can do to remain focused on taking care of herself; because worrying and rescuing her children was literally killing her. What Juanita does know of her daughter's life is that she was going to the methadone clinic but back using heroine as well. She knows her daughter is always broke and always calling to beg for money which she will not supply. She knows she is struggling and lost again to "the world" that quickly drug her back from a jail saved seeker of Christ into a living in the flesh lost soul.
But here's the real tragedy and here is where I believe some real blame lays. The week I made arrangements to pick Monica up from her release, I had arranged to deliver her to parole and then to bring her from Mesquite to Georgetown to spend two weeks or so with myself and Pastor Joy (the same woman who walked me to my decision for Christ) to gird her up in her faith and spend some time outside the prison walls in a God centered friendship and fellowship. Parole agreed.....
until we arrived there in Mesquite and suddenly they decided they had several "classes" and appointments she needed to attend. None of which helped to encourage her faith or give her solid resources to lean upon until she could find a strong support system outside! Now I know that day I was much inconvenienced by all the driving but I didn't mind. Monica and I had a chance to enjoy a meal together, talk for the several hour drive to her home and for a time with her family as they just basked in the reunion!
The problem, however, was the lack of support by parole and their own bureaucracy to consider solutions outside their box. Faith based programs are showing the highest rate of success and yet secular systems such as probation and parole are not yet fully embracing these options.
Could this have made a difference in her life and her choices since release? The answer is obviously yes, it could have! It is a guarantee? Of course not. We are fallible, flawed humans who are always free to continue making bad choices. But when options are closed to us during those vital first days of transition, when direct discipleship is mandated as a "no go" for reasons that are legalistic, secular stubborness then a grave injustice has contributed to the problem rather than supporting solutions.
I am searching for Monica, hoping to find her and get a chance to remind her of our spirit filled days in F5. I know if God put her in my mind and heart, then He has a reason. Experience shows us that those who are faithfully discipled upon release have a far greater chance at success than those that don't. Changes must be made to insure that Godly relationships are not disrupted or interfered with by over zealous, under discipled authority.
Yes, as I reflect on my conversation with Juanita, I am infuriated that another child is lost to the world for the time being and that hands in authority in our secular world had a part in that.
There are no easy answers but to again, as always, rest in God and pray fervently for each and every woman He places on our hearts. "Monica, I'm here for you. Love, God"