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The Case of Melanie

Imagine you are ten years old; your mother is a drunk who never knows of your whereabouts, nor does she care; your father isn’t in the picture and you find yourself roaming the streets of one of America’s mid-sized cities. Your friends are pimps and prostitutes and you’ve learned to make money so you can feed yourself by selling drugs. By the time you are thirteen years old, you are kidnapped by one of the cities’ notorious pedophiles and swept away to a wooded area clear across the country which is known to be the hide-away for America’s pedophiles and their victims – a place of isolation from society where their dirty, little deeds can go on undetected. Such is the background for Melanie’s life of drugs and alcohol. She ended up giving her kidnapper three children. He actually married her when she was seventeen. She is now in her mid-thirties.

Melanie’s story is extraordinary in that she and her children were able to escape from the grips of this man through the efforts of a female attorney who in the northeastern part of the country regularly scouts these woods for pedophiles and their prey. She sends a team in to remove the children to one location and their mother to another. In time they are reunited. Her children are in their early twenties now. She chose to come back to the city she lived in as a child. She wanted to see her mother. Nothing had changed. Drugs were available everywhere.

I met Melanie in the early part of 2014 when she began coming to my Bible Studies in the County Jail. Two weeks after she got released from prison and put on probation, she slipped up. She found a baggie full of meth on the sidewalk and picked it up. She lied to the officer who happened to see her pick it up and ended up back in jail. She was sent to prison and wrote the following to me from there:

“Dear Joy, Hello! Boy do I miss hearing your words of encouragement.  I am really kicking myself in the butt for thinking God was gonna let me slip by with just a little compromise.  I know better than that.  For some reason I just can’t seem to totally give up my control.  All about me …. It needs to be all about God.  Please keep me in your prayers.  I will continue to pray for God to help me once and for all let go and let God. . . . I really need you now, your prayers for sure.  A letter would help too.  I’m so disappointed in myself but I can’t dwell on it.  I have got to keep going.  You were right about a lot of things and I am sorry for not listening.  God has a plan for me now.  It’s time to be still and know He is God!!  I love you!” “Dear Joy, Hello! Boy do I miss hearing your words of encouragement.  I am really kicking myself in the butt for thinking God was gonna let me slip by with just a little compromise.  I know better than that.  For some reason I just can’t seem to totally give up my control.  All about me …. It needs to be all about God.  Please keep me in your prayers.  I will continue to pray for God to help me once and for all let go and let God. . . . I really need you now, your prayers for sure.  A letter would help too.  I’m so disappointed in myself but I can’t dwell on it.  I have got to keep going.  You were right about a lot of things and I am sorry for not listening.  God has a plan for me now.  It’s time to be still and know He is God!!  I love you!”

When Melanie returned from prison, I wrote a letter on her behalf and promised I would walk by her side. She was put back on probation and has not let the judge down nor me. I sat in the front row when she received her certification as a welder. This was her life’s dream. Her mother sat next to me. Her children were proud of her although they were still back east. She works on construction sites in town.

My church helped to get her furniture for her apartment and my husband and I delivered it. I have seen her atop of many a building replete with hardhat and workman’s overalls and invariably she shouts down to me, “Hi Joy” as she frantically waves. This tattooed, tough lady (and I use this word loosely), is now helping others stay out of prison and off of drugs. I love her dearly. Her entire apartment is done in a Sponge Bob theme. The majority of inmates have stunted their emotional growth through the use of drugs. They’ve never learned to work through any problem and its associated pain, only to escape it which is what the drugs and alcohol allow them to do. While God has welded the pieces of her life together, she has gained a reputation as a master welder. Glory be to God!

-Written by Joy Corey, a prison ministry volunteer

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