Pamela “Rae” Bernard thought her life was over when she was sentenced to 60 years in prison in 1992. She described herself as a “materialistic, greedy, and selfish” person. Then she entered the STRIVE program at the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville. The program helped turn her life around so much so that she quickly became a mentor and inspiration to fellow inmates. After 30 years behind bars, this Christmas, Rae was given a second chance.
My name is Pamela "Rae" Bernard and I've been on the receiving end of an overwhelming amount of love and support from C2C. They supplied me with hygiene items, clothing and a lot of prayers for my successful reentry--all of which were essential for my transition! As a returning citizen, (I served over 30 years), C2C was the first ministry... more
One of the priviledges we have at C2C is to bring the message of Captivating by Randsomed Heart Ministries to women who live behind bars. During a recent 3-day mission trip to the Hilltop Unit, four women from the Trusty Camp joined us. So what makes that so special? What makes this time different from all the other times, or these women different from all the other women we've shared the Gospel with?
To grasp the significance of this matter you would need to know that it is no little task to get permission, much less be transported from one prison property to another. In fact, you would need to know that each and every time an inmate leaves, or enters, prison grounds they are searched. In fact such an event requires a specific type of search, one of a personal nature, if you follow my meaning.
We don't take it lightly that not just one woman, but four, found the Captivating Experience worth the "inconvenience", not once, but for the entire three day program.
The following letter is from one of those four inmates.
I attended your seminar while I was a Trusty. Since then I have moved to another unit as part of my parole answer. ... I was questioned about the seminar and got great feed back. Now I know funding is limited and so is your time. I feel these ladies would benefit from the seminar. The Warden's name is ... and the Assistant is .. and the contact information is... I also shared with them the Feb. 2015 Newsletter you provided us with at the seminar and each and everyone enjoyed it. Can you tell me how to get a monthly copy? I am here for ... and would like to keep in contact with the positive people in my life. It helps to have bridges rather than to burn them. I know your time is limited, but I want to thank you for sharing your journey with me. I have my heart and ears open so I can hear the name that the Lover of my soul calls me!
p.s. Some of these women have been through a lot of emotional roller coasters and do not truely know their roll as a woman, and how great it is to be one!
This is that. What we do what we do for. Why we sacrifice, solicit funds, and do everything we can to share the truth of God's Word... that He loves them, just as they are. So in turn they will live for and testify of His goodness! Bringing hope to the hopeless. Blooming where they are planted.
I have to say I have received some amazing inmate letters over the years. I have also received letters of reference from those serving in large and small ministries alike. I have even received referral letters from heads of corporations. But none have compared to this one. May we be so blessed to be allowed to continue in His work, until he returns.
Q. How has the ministry of Called to Change impacted your life?
A. Bringing the Captivating Experience here has helped touch an area that goes all the way back to when I first got baptized at 19 years old. As I have shared with Coach Adams, a hardness came over me after I got saved. Trying to be the woman God wanted me to be; not to be aggressive but to be tender, compassionate, kind, gentle patience. Not to be aggressive.
I was 19 and I didn’t have much guidance to help me find that.
When I was first tested, or what I interpreted as being tested, I didn’t do too well. And I just walked away from the experience harder than I realized.
But during the (3-day) Captivating Experience, God brought that moment back to me, and let me know that “Joyce you are still called to be that tender hearted woman. Still called to be that gentle, innocent woman, and its safe! That’s who you are.”
I was like, ‘How can God talk to you, and you not say WOW?’ After all, you are hearing it, seeing it, and you’re experiencing it! And you’re knowing in your spirit that this is God speaking to you. He saw me! And He brought that to me through this ministry. (wiping tears).
Q. What have you learned from some of the other programs brought by Called to Change, such as Breaking Free by Beth Moore?
A. Man, Breaking Free, if that did not tear a hole in that concrete slab that I had built that false foundation on and I didn’t know it. I took it twice, unknowingly! (laughing)
The first time I took Breaking Free, God brought up a major event that had happened to me while in the military which I was never able to talk about. But that I can speak about now, that was a sexual assault.
It gave me a spirit of anger. For me to be hurt that way. I tried to retaliate in the midst of it all, against my attacker. When I couldn’t break his neck. I felt that anger. I bottled it up. I didn’t know that these scars and wounds remained in my soul. It was there. It had been there for almost 25 years.
It had a lot to do with what happened before I came to TDCJ. But I didn’t remember the incident.
When I first took Breaking Free, God brought this up. My first impression was “What does that have to do with anything?” What did I ask that for? (laughing) Breaking Free did that. It was when God first started showing me that hardness wasn’t supposed to be there.
Q. What were some of the ways that C2C has positively affected you overall?
A. When God started showing me what this world had made me. He then showed me who I was supposed to be. Who I was created to be. I saw that woman. I thought, that’s not me, she’s soft. He took me and showed me how the world had hardened me. I was always known to be walking around angry, hard looking, strong, and unapproachable. And I was safe. There, that’s not where I was supposed to be. It was false safety.
This ministry has showed me the truly safe in Christ. I can’t protect myself. I can’t defend myself. He does that. He’s kept me. This ministry has blessed me to see that I can be the woman God has called me to be. And nobody has to like it but God, I don’t even have to like it! As long as He’s happy it’s going to be alright.
Q. What can you tell us about Coach Adams?
A. Wow! (grinning) I’ve seen a magnanimous change in this woman since our first meeting. If you have ever seen the fingerprint of God. If you haven’t seen it, look at Chandra Coach Adams. God has shown me how He can take the roughness and turn it into tenderness.
And when we had the 3 Day Captivating Experience I saw that in her, and I did not know it was the first sign of what He was going to do in me. He showed me it’s possible. “Now look in the mirror, cause it’s in you too!”
Q. If you were to encourage women to participate in Captivating or another C2C Outreach.
A. Do you want to be healed? Do you want to be free? Do you really have a grasp on where you are spiritually and emotionally? Because if you don’t and you want to learn something brand new about you and your God, this is the spot. You will be set free. You will be captivated. You will be brand new.
Joyce Evelyn is 50 years old, has served 21 years of a 60 year sentence, and resides at the TDCJ Mountain View women’s maximum security prison. Joyce has been a member of the Chapel Ministry Team for several years and specializes in audio/visual production. She offers a quiet, gentle strength by her very presence and is always ready to share a smile. Her laughter is pure, as is her compassion for others. Joyce’s deep love for God is reflected in her worship and is only exceeded by her ease of expressing the joy of Lord! She is a transformed life impacting her community.