Transforming hope

Published on December 1, 2016

Ruth works in the Mess Café at the Message Enterprise Centre. She first came to work with us while still serving a prison sentence.  Following a very dark time in her life one of our prisons team played played a key part in Ruth’s journey of transformation.  She shares how God restored her life.

I was brought up in Manchester in quite a dysfunctional family. My parents split up when we were very young and for many years I was physically abused by my mum, who was an alcoholic.

When I reached my early teens I turned to hard-core raving to escape the pain. I went from being addicted to ecstasy to alcohol. Years later it was my addiction that led to the breakdown of my family. I lost my husband and my three children.

I got my life back on track for a while and graduated from Manchester University with a degree in criminology. But after having another child my life went out of control again. I ended up in an alcohol dependent relationship, which led to me going to prison for a wounding offence.

I had been in a dark place – angry, confused and lost, but all of that began to change on the first morning when I met the prison chaplain who gave me a New Testament. The first scripture I turned to was Matthew 11:28: ‘“Come to me, all you who are weary…”.’ I thought, that’s me.

That night I repented. I said sorry for everything I’d done and asked God to forgive me if he loved me. Then I went to sleep. The next morning, I felt really calm. I started going to chapel where I met Natalie, who was part of the Message prisons team. I joined the Bible study group because I had so many questions about how to have God’s peace and freedom.

For the first eight weeks I was in a single cell and I absolutely devoured the New Testament. I stopped swearing and smoking. My whole attitude changed.

There was still a lot of hurt and fear but I learnt that I could give it all to God. I realised how much he loves me and it completely changed me. I’d been broken and now God was rebuilding me.

Officers noticed such a change in me they moved me to an open unit in the prison. They offered me an opportunity to work at the Message Enterprise Centre on day release. I was flabbergasted. For someone to put their trust in me gave me such a sense of hope.

When I was released from prison I was amazed to be offered a full-time job at the MEC. I have been able to support others going through similar experiences to myself. I’m so grateful for this opportunity to show that I’m not just another statistic or another offender.

God has now restored my family life – it’s better than it has ever been. I’m back with my husband after he saw how much I’d changed. My daughter is stunned that she’s got a mum and she trusts me again.

When I left she was 8 years old – she’s now 18 and we’ve got a really good relationship. God has completely turned my life around and I thank him for it every day.

Pray for Ruth as she shares her story in prison. If you’re in Manchester, come and say ‘hello’ at the Mess Café.