I remember at age 12 telling my grandmother that God had called me to be a missionary. My life took many turns as I traveled to prison after prison visiting my father. The incarceration was not the pain, but the rejection of knowing that my father did not love me. I put aside God’s plan to share God’s love as a missionary and pursued my own dreams.
At age 54, I surrendered my entire being to the will of God, committing to walk through every door of ministry that He opened. God’s plan became my purpose as He revealed to me that the ashes of my life as an inmate’s child would bring forth hope and direction for many children.
It truly has been a journey of faith and fulfillment as God has done remarkable things in amazing places. The journey has led my husband, Jack, and me to prisons across our nation with the mission of reaching, restoring, and reconciling children with their inmate parents. There is such an inner joy as God has taught me to look through His eyes with commitment, compassion, and humility to see those whom society has given up on. God knew each inmate and their children before they were born, and He had a plan for their lives.
Having been the child of an inmate, I am very aware that God has gold nuggets hidden in the dark world of incarceration. I speak on forgiveness through sharing my personal testimony of forgiving my father. I count it as a privilege to be a part of helping to develop His plan of reconciliation to the incarcerated families through camps of reconciliation. It’s what God has given me to do – helping children avoid the separation I endured. My father was in and out of prison most of his adult life. I didn’t have the childhood others kids had. I was embarrassed that he was behind bars. I felt ignored, rejected, and unloved. My father never showed any emotional attachment to me. It hurt very deeply. Prison is intended to punish criminals, but it inadvertently punishes children when a parent is imprisoned. A lot of prisoners’ children turn to crime because of the anger, bitterness, and resentment that grows and festers within them. Reconciliation between parent and child is needed to break the cycle.
I used to go with my Mother on weekly visits to see my father. Every Sunday, we made the three hour drive to the prison. I was six years old when I realized he didn’t have any affection for me. He would sit at the table in the visitation room and keep looking at his watch – like he couldn’t wait for the two hours to be over.
I pray you will be blessed and inspired by my story, and I pray that you will have a burning desire to know more about Forgiven Ministry and the calling on my life and those who join us to promote the vision and mission of reconciliation.
I want to thank you for your careful consideration and hope to be able to share more of the heart of our organization and the work God has called us to do.
God bless you as we serve Christ and serve others. –Scottie Barnes