One Parish, One Prisoner Update

One Parish, One Prisoner Update

by Marisa Gronholz, Director of Adult Formation & Outreach Ministries
and Sean Kelly, OPOP PACT Team Member

When we signed up for One Parish, One Prisoner, we were told it was a two-year “discipleship opportunity” for our church community to “practice resurrection.” This first year has been supporting and praying for our OPOP team as they have developed a relationship with Chrystina through letters, e-mail, video, visits and now are getting to know her in person. Through updates in the e-news, News From The Front, prayer requests in person and on the virtual prayer wall, and articles in the Bethany Briefs, the team has shared some of what they have learned about relationships and about the criminal justice system as a whole, and they have invited all of us to see some of the challenges and roadblocks that Chrystina will face as she re-enters society and begins a new life.

You all have helped clear some of those roadblocks! Thanks to your generosity, we raised just under $3,000 in our “Unlocking the Gates” fundraiser to help cover some of the initial costs of building a new life. So far those funds have gone to purchase clothes, household items, groceries, and an Orca card and a medical copay before her insurance kicks in. We ask for continued prayers as Chrystina adjusts and praise God for meeting her housing and job needs. Throughout this entire process, the team has started each meeting with a resource from Underground Ministries called, The Welcoming Prayer:

I welcome everything that comes to me in this moment
because I trust it can be part of my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons,
situations, and conditions.
I let go of my desire for approval. I let go of my desire
for control. I let go of my desire for false security.
I let go of my desire to change any situation, condition,
person for myself.
I open to the love and presence of God and the healing
action and grace within.

This is the spirit that we now invite you into as we continue on this journey. The prayer invites us to be open, to let go. We weren’t sure if Chrystina would come to church at Bethany, but we had the pleasure of welcoming her when she attended worship last Sunday! It was God’s perfect timing, especially since she was able to make a connection with Jon Abe who joined us from King County Youth Chaplaincy. We will continue to practice resurrection as we love our sister Chrystina and come alongside of her as she builds a new life. make a connection with Jon Abe who joined us from King County Youth Chaplaincy. We will continue to follow the guidance of the OPOP team at Bethany and of Underground Ministries, and we will continue to be disciples—to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and practice resurrection as we love our sister Chrystina and journey with her as she builds a new life.

Testimony from Sean Kelly, OPOP PACT Team:
Hello Bethany. Thank you for your support of the OPOP ministry and Chrystina. Being involved in OPOP has given me a better understanding of all the privilege I have had and have experienced in my life. I have worked at a job since I was 10 years old, and I never recognized what a privilege it was. When I first spoke with Chrystina, I truly realized how wrong I was. She had to leave home at 9 years old and has been on the streets off and on ever since. Visiting her in the Western Washington Women’s Center was quite a life changer. She has such a strong will to re-enter society and to be a full and contributing member. It was obvious that she had given her life to Jesus and was quite determined to rid herself of her demons and grow into the person God created her to be. I am grateful to be a part of her life. Please be praying for Chrystina as she re-enters society after incarceration. Pray for all of the details that go into that, but also for a strong sense of community, of people surrounding her and loving her and that our team would continue to know how best to come alongside of her in that.