Jesus said to his disciples that whatever we do for “the least of these”—the sick, the poor, the hungry, or the imprisoned—we do also for him. I had never considered prison ministry. Actually, I had never considered ministry at all, so when the Lord called me to it in 2009, no one was more surprised than I. But the call was clear, so in 2011 I left a comfortable job on a high-profile morning show to begin sharing the Gospel through writing and teaching. When KCBI called I was not looking for a job, nor was I eager to reset my alarm for the morning-show-wake-up-call of 3:30 am. But God led me to KCBI, and through KCBI, He led me to Cheilla.
We were fundraising when a staff member brought an envelope into the studio. “You’ll want to see this,” she said with a smile.
The envelope contained a birthday card and twenty stamps from my soon-to-be new friend.
“I’m sorry for the birthday card,” she wrote, “but it’s all they had at the commissary. There are a lot of us here at the Gatesville State Murray Unit who listen to KCBI every day. They don’t let us have money, so I’m sending stamps. Hopefully this helps the ministry. Someday when I’m out, I’ll send money. In Christ, Cheilla.”
I couldn’t believe my eyes. Stamps are currency to the inmates. Cheilla was choosing to give us her precious stamps instead of buying small comforts like snacks, toiletries, or stationary.
Pretty soon Cheilla and I were regular pen pals, and I began writing to other inmates, too. When Donna Criswell with Chapel of Hope Ministries asked me to speak at the Gatesville State Revival, I leaped at the chance. I could hardly wait to meet my new friends in person.
They don’t let you hug at the prison, but you can fist-bump, so we fist-bumped until our knuckles were black and blue. After that first trip I knew that the Lord had opened my eyes and done something in my heart that could never be undone. The Christians inside the Murray Unit have discovered a truth that most on the “outside” never will:
~ You will never trust that God is all you need until God is all you have. ~
They understand their brokenness, and because they understand their brokenness, they understand their need. They are desperate for Jesus because Jesus is their only hope. He is all they have. But more than that, He is all they want.
Some of the women I met will die in the Murray Unit. Some of them have lived behind bars far longer than outside of them. But they have a joy, a peace, and dare I say a freedom that nearly has me envious.
Thank you. Because you give your time and talents to Christian Radio, the “least of these” are eating the richest spiritual food through encouraging music, words of hope, and powerful teaching. And when you minister to the least of these, you minister to Christ, Himself (Mat 25:40).
Rebecca Carrell is, in order of importance, a joyful Jesus follower, wife to Mike, mother to Caitlyn and Nick, morning show co-host in Dallas/Fort Worth on 90.9 KCBI, conference speaker, and author of Holy Jellybeans: Finding God through Everyday Things, and Holy Hiking Boots: When God Makes the Ordinary Extraordinary.
She moved to Dallas in 1998 and began her broadcasting career in country music. In 2011 she moved to Christian radio station KCBI, and in 2016 founded HeartStrong Faith, an interdenominational women’s ministry built on Ephesians 1:17, with the sole purpose of knowing the Triune God better through study, worship, and service. Rebecca is also working toward her Master of Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary.