22 Aug 2014
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Then these righteous ones will reply, Lord, when did we ever see 
you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to 
drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give 
you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit 
you? And the King will say, I tell you the truth, when you did it 
to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were 
doing it to me! Matthew 25:37-40

Almost 2 years ago I started volunteering with the prison ministry both at my church and another ministry in Akron, OH. Several times a month I’d go to 3 different facilities and minister to incarcerated youth. To be honest even though I felt called to volunteer there, I wasn’t sure why. Though I had quite a rough past, I had never been locked up. Not for my lack of trying, but God’s mercy had clearly spared me from a life behind bars. Why though, what did I possibly have to offer?

That question was answered the very first time that I went to our Akron facility. I walked onto the cell block, a bare, stone room containing nothing but a table, 10 chairs, and a small wooden desk for the guard. The cold walls around us encased the cells of the 8 girls who now sat at the table before me. It wasn’t their physical “appearances” that caught my attention, but the hopelessness that plagued their faces. One 14 year old girl sticks out in my memory the most. Her’s is a face I will never forget.

When the team leader was done reading, she asked me if I had anything to say. My mind fast forwards to the conversation that followed. A conversation with the 14 year old girl, the one I would never forget. She looked at me, her face mirroring the stone walls around us, and said this,

“So if you kill someone, you’re going to hell no matter what, right?”

I later learned that the “someone” she had killed was a relative who raped her for most of her childhood. Don’t mistake me for someone who condones violence, because I don’t, but that day I wasn’t focussed on her crime, I was focussed on her hopelessness. Her eyes were void of emotion. She stated the question almost matter-of-factly, like her mind was already made up. She lived her own reality, that at 14 years old she was now set to live out the remainder of her existence, simply awaiting her impending doom. The world that she lived in was hopeless, and at that moment I knew why I was there. I started to share a bit of my testimony...horrific abuse, rejection, abandonment, torment, neglect, fear, rage, dangerous decisions, powerful addictions, a life bound for death, for hell. But then I told her about the day I met a man named Jesus. I told her about the day that He found me, the day that He saved me, the day that He set me free. Then I quoted John 3:16-”For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

The girl spoke again. .

“He did that for ME too?”

I saw a hint of light in her eyes as I answered,

“Sweetheart, if you were the only person, EVER, He would have done it JUST FOR YOU.” 

Tears streamed from her eyes as she accepted the love of a man named Jesus. A man whose name she had never heard as more than a curse word before that day. And I realized that this was why I was here..to bring hope to these hopeless places.
After that day I was never the same. I was all in more than I had ever been before. I wasn’t going to be afraid anymore, I would share my story with the masses no matter how hard it was, no matter what the cost. 

        - Unknown

The books to be donated are the story of my life, the same story that I shared with that hopeless little girl. My story of redemption. God is using this story to bring hope to many hopeless places. I hope that you'll join us in this mission to show them that hope exists! 
-Laura Parsons Lytle
Author of "To Tame a Wildflower"
Click Here to donate:  www.gofundme.com/HopeExists

Find "To Tame a Wildflower" on iTunes and Amazon or at  www.totameawildflower.org

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