Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Letter From Prison - Shelly Hackworth


I wanted to say somethings to you. I appreciate you sharing your story, it really meant alot to me. Everyday you were in class I look at you and think how much of a beautiful person you are inside and out. I also think I want to become like you, full of confidence and love for yourself as well as God. I never thought you'd been where I was, cause you'd never guess by looking at you or listening to you. But knowing you have been and seeing how far you've come gives me strength to continue and the strength to not give up. I know I can do all this, but seeing results in others lives, like yours, makes my knowing even stronger. I want to tell you, thanks so much. You are a wonderful, beautiful woman and I hope I can be like you and strong in Gods love like you. Thank you so much Tomi.

Sincerely, Shelly Hackworth

Friday, May 18, 2007

Testimony - Shaton Vaughn

I am a member of Tomi's Winning Group. I've been received into the group by grace. I am seeing new revelations of God's word. I have a feeling of belonging. We experience touching and agreeing through corporate prayer. And we are inspired to experience more intimacy with God.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Testimony - Michelle Morton

I, Michelle Morton, am a member of Ms. Tomi's Winning Group. I've learned being in Ms. Tomi's Winning Group that God loves me whatever comes in my pathway as long as I have faith and believe in Him.

Friday, May 11, 2007

What an honor...

This week has been packed full of blessings. I have to say that it has been one of the most rewarding weeks of my life so far. The outpouring of support and encouragment regarding my being selected as the ACJ Volunteer Chaplain of the Year has been tremendous. This experience reminds me of two of my favorite scriptures that I often meditate on for encouragement.

Psalm 92:4 (New Living Translation)
4 You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me!
I sing for joy because of what you have done.

Psalm 94:19 (New Living Translation)
19 When doubts filled my mind,
your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.

This week they pretty much explain my entire life! I truly give all the glory to God for allowing me the opportunity to minister to the women at the jail. I thank Him daily for calling me to this ministry. Sometimes I am still dumb-founded that He chose me, but He did and I will not let Him down. Thank you to everyone who has reached out with support and kind words, I appreciate all of it more than I can express with words. I want you to know that I will continue to walk this mission out and I look forward to seeing where it takes me. I will keep you updated of the progress along the way.

I love you, Tomi

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Testimony - Cindy McMillen

Miss Tomi:

I just want you to know how proud I am of you and I'm so happy I was with you tonight at the Chaplains jail banquet. For those of you who aren't aware of what happened tonight at the ceremony, I'll fill you in. Miss Tomi was presented with a plaque tonight and chosen as Honorary Chaplain of the Year, she was chosen out of 53 other chaplains. Tomi is the youngest female that goes to the jail and teaches bible studies to the inmates.She was recognized for her gift of communication and interaction with the female prisoners and for her passion and love for ministering to the inmates. "The inmates really love and respect Tomi and are willing to receive from her". were some of the comments made. Tomi feels strongly that this is her calling in life. She commented that, "Nothing could keep her from doing what she's doing at the jail." The comment was also made by the senior chaplain who presented the award, that it wasn't easy at first to get Tomi into the jail ministry. She was denied access into the jail the first time she applied. The senior chaplain commented that she had a "colorful" past. He also said that those with a difficult past are usually the best ones to reach the inmates, they seem to connect better. The seed Pastor Al planted in her years ago is obviously bringing forth much fruit.

Keep up the good work Tomi!!

Your supporter and intercessor,


God is AWESOME!!!

A few hours ago I was questioning myself as a leader and mentor and second-guessing myself and my abilities to help people in the things of God. As I was sitting there crying my phone rang and it was one of the very 1st ladies I had the privilege of ministering to at the jail. She wanted to let me know that she just finished her finals was about to get her degree from college. She wanted me to know how much she loved and appreciated me and everything I did for her while she was in jail. She said that she looked forward to becoming a part of my winning group and helping other women like she was helped. Then about an hour later my phone rang again and it was one of my ladies who back-slid a few months ago. She wanted to let me know that she got herself checked into a rehab house and that she was alright. She thanked me for my continued prayers while she was out on the street. She said that even though she knew she was doing wrong she could feel my prayers for her pulling her through. Then right now as I am typing this my phone just rang again. It was another one of my ladies that just got back from prison. She wanted to let me know that she was home and that as soon as she finished with the intake procedures at the half-way house she is staying at she wants to go back to church with me and come to my winning group. She wanted me to know that she loves me and missed me and prayed for me everyday while she was gone. In a matter of a few hours I've gone from crying tears of disappointment to uncontrollable tears of joy! GOD IS AWESOME!!! What else can I say...

It hurts when they go back out...

I found out this morning that one of my ladies went back out to the street (that's how we say that she went back to her old life or that she back-slid). This isn't the first time that something like this has happened, actually it happens more frequently than I would like. But the thing hurts me so bad when this happens. I know that I can't make the changes that need to be made for them - they have to do it themselves, but I almost always feel like if I had just tried harder or did something different or did something better that this wouldn't have happened. I pour everything I know into these women and I open my heart and my home to them and allow them to be a special part of my life. It hurts when that's just not enough. Some of the other volunteer chaplains at the jail told me that this gets easier as time goes by but honestly I hope I never get to the place that when someone turns from the things of God and goes back to darkness that it doesn't faze me. I know I am relatively new at this (I've only been a volunteer chaplain for 2 1/2 years) but I am so sold out to helping these women that it really does hurt my heart when they don't get it right away. I really do sincerely and genuinely love them and if I hurt this bad when this happens I can only imagine what it does to God's heart. I think of the time and effort He put into getting them to this point only for them to turn from Him but then I also think about how He immediatley gets to work on getting them back to Him. And when they do find their way back I think about how He will be waiting with open arms and the same unconditional love that He had for them before any of this happened. And that's how I will be too. I will continue to pray for every woman that has turned back and be eagerly anticipating her return. But until that day I will continue to do the work that God has called me to do at the jail and I will continue to believe the best of every woman down matter how much it hurts when they go back out!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Catching Up

I apologize for the long break since my last post; I will do my best not to let it happen again! But just because I haven't posted anything new doesn't mean that nothing exciting has been happening. Here are some of the high points from the last few weeks...

On Tuesday, April 24 I had the privilege of overseeing Chapel service. There were two services and I am please to say that every woman in both of the services either received salvation or rededicated their lives to the Lord! We had a fantastic time of worship and fellowship! I just love those ladies and it is so much fun to watch the Word come alive to them and in them...

Our Jail Ministry Support Winning Group had our first 2 visitors that were members of my Bible Study in the jail. It was awesome to see them outside the jail. One of the ladies has visited Summit multiple times since her release and she loves it. The other hasn't made it to Summit yet but I believe that she will very soon.

I was made aware of an email that was sent to the Jail Chaplaincy by the sister of an inmate. It turns out that the family had been praying for years for the sister who was incarcerated. She had been leading a life full of mess and destruction and they wanted nothing more than for her to receive salvation and turn her life around. I knew none of this until long after the fact, but the girl ended up being a member of my bible study and received salvation in one of our classes. She finished the Bronze, Silver, and Gold levels of the Winning Track while she was there. She has since gone on to prison but she continues in developing her relationship with God. Her family just wanted to let the Chaplaincy know that what happen to her during her time at the Allen County Jail was an answer to their prayers. I do not know this family nor have I ever met any of them but to hear from the Jail Chaplain that the family of a former inmate took the time to send an email thanking God for me for the work I had done in their sister was a blessing beyond words. It's just another confirmation that I am in the right place doing the right thing - whether I am aware of how it is all working out or not!

Thank you all for your prayers and words of encouragement! Awesome things are happening at the ACJ and I believe that this is just the beginning!