An Encouraging Word Ministry
As new testimonials are added to the site—from Encouragers, Insiders and Comforters—earlier testimonials are moved to this page. This makes certain that the ministry is able to remember the stories that have been shared over time, while highlighting the newest testimonials elsewhere on the site.
It’s All God’s River
A testimony of Ms. Robin through the Holy Spirit of God. All praise and glory to Him!
Cascading, pounding, rushing waters,
unwelcome, flooding, drowned.
Parched and thirsty, shrunk,
flowing not at all,
abandoned, lonely, lost
“Why, Lord, why,?” we call.
Too much, too little
God is contained in each.
It’s we who are dissatisfied,
perfection not in reach.
God’s river flows in flood, in drought,
He’s found within extremes.
He’s found whenever we reach out,
embrace His Son, our King.
It’s God’s river that carries us always,
past this life and onward still,
connected to His boundless love,
through Jesus Christ, it is His will.
We cannot disconnect from Him,
because it’s all God’s river!
Redemption, mercy, grace and peace,
from God Himself, the giver.
Read His word, then pray, confess.
Fill your heart, your mind, your soul!
He’ll never leave you or forsake you,
He transforms you as you go.
Lord, this year I want to change—and I’ve said that in the past;
but now my prayer is different ‘cause I understand at last.
I wanted my own way before. I ignored your loving plans
but now I’m putting everything into your nail-scarred hands.
I promise to follow You out of gratitude and love.
I won’t be giving orders to my Father up above.
I know that I must trust, and so I’ve changed my prayer:
The safest place for me to be is in Your gentle care.
Please be my shepherd, Jesus—that is all I ask of You.
In good times and in bad this year,
take my hand and lead me through.
November 2021-Encouragers and Insiders of the Month
This Testimony Matters! ENCOURAGER Mr. Herb, Colorado
“I believe Christopher (his assigned Insider) is growing steadily in the Lord, although he has a lot to deal with, of course. It’s truly been a blessing to me, too. I think I get more encouragement from this exercise of writing and thought and prayer than he probably does, it is just a constant blessing and has given me many chances to think more deeply and examine myself more honestly, and walk with Jesus every day.”
Your Prayers Matter! ENCOURAGER Ms. Debbie W.
From her INSIDER “M”…“I put my papers into the Halfway house…please pray. I’m ready to start the next chapter of my life. God Bless you and thank you for all your prayers of support. Super blessed and it changed my life. I have a chance at a good life..THANK YOU. Keep on believing. Keep on striving. God has wonderful blessings in store for you. May God bless you.” AND from INSIDER “B”… “Thank you for believing in God so prayerfully. IT MATTERS!!!”
Response from Ms. Debbie W…“I am the one who is blessed by their enthusiasm and love for God. They can find light where there is darkness and look at the glass ½ full rather than ½ empty.” …Living out God’s Word in Hebrews 13:3—“Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoner and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”
Honor Matters! News from LaVista Correctional Facility, Colorado
New to LaVista is the Unit 1-HONOR UNIT. Higher education opportunities, paid employment, private rooms with cooking facilities, less officer surveillance and many incentives. At the same time, higher standards are expected, like volunteer work for 20 hours and being on a peer team committee to be present for others in need.
Your Concerns Matter! I have not received a letter…what do I do?
- Make sure that your return address is not a label and is the correct location on the envelope, not on the back of the envelope. Make sure you put their ID# properly on your envelope…and the facility on the top line. Stationery and envelope must be plain with NO decoration of any kind. No colored markers.
- Be Patient. COVID restrictions took them away from their jobs and means of affording stamps. They may be locked down. Or, if they are partially back to “normal” they are cramming for exams and rushing to finish their education requirements. If you’ve sent two letters within two months and not received a response, let Debbie know. She can check to see if they have been recently released or moved suddenly. You may be re-assigned or advised.
- There are some circumstances beyond their control, such as lock down for a facility, no money for stamps, or move to another facility, solitary, sickness or in the hospital for tests/operation.
- There are some circumstances that are under their control, but priorities have slowed them down. For example, important class tests, prison events like Mother’s Day, exhaustion from a physical job they are assigned to, or spending their last stamp on a letter to their loved one(s).
- If you want to be reassigned to another, your original Insider will remain on our master list and will continue to receive Ministry wide mailings, and birthday and Parole Hearing letters to continue to encourage them.
- You may be reassigned to another, when additional Insiders are made available.
Send a letter with a picture of you (printed on regular paper), rather than a card this year. A Christmas letter from the ministry will reach all Insiders the first part of December. This year, the restrictions are overwhelming for incoming cards to prisons. Even the envelopes must be white with no decorations for some states. And other states will discard without delivery and without returning.
Reminder: It is the personal note inside that makes the difference AND a picture of you printed on normal paper warms their heart more.
Surprises Matter! JESUS LISTENS, Author Sarah Young
This is=s the #1 hottest selling book on Amazon, and the ministry is testing to see if it will be accepted in some of the prisons. It is written as Prayers to Jesus, quoting Bible verses embedded in daily prayer. For those INSIDERS who have issues on how to pray, it is a remarkable source.
BLESSED THANKSGIVING EVERYONE! You encourage us at AEW. Celebrate all of God’s blessings, BIG & small!
August 2021–Encouragers and Insiders of the Month!
This Testimony Matters! INSIDER Ms. Teresa, DWCF since 2019
“I’m serving a 32 year sentence. Although I or anyone wouldn’t want to be in prison, I have gained so much back. God saved my life by bringing me here. I was so lost and depressed, alone and miserable on the streets. God kept me safe out there, lost in drugs and alcohol. Now HE gave me another chance. My family & daughter are back in my life. Also, I have a sense of peace. I know things are going to work out for the better. My life has been blessed. I want to know more about God. I feel like it’s hard though because I don’t know where to start in the Bible.”
That is where Encourager Ms. Sarah stepped up.
Luke 15:7 “In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” NLT
This Gift & 4th of July Mattered! INSIDER Ms. Audrey, DWCF Medical Quarantine
A handmade beaded bracelet with “MS KAREN” was sent in Audrey’s 36th letter to Encourager. Audrey shared her 4th of July. “As for our Unit they held a special day for just our Unit. We were allowed to eat outdoors, sit on the grass. They even brought out tables and chairs. Under my circumstance the heat got the best of me so my OCA took me to my room where I was more comfortable but I did enjoy the food, hamburgers, hot dogs, watermelon, even popsicles. They even opened the gym and yard for games and music. I didn’t feel left out because I was in my room staying very cool and reading a great book. So, the good Lord and I just enjoyed the day.”
This QUOTE Matters! ENCOURAGER Ms. Karen. 136 letters from Insiders since 2019
“Yes, please send the gift! So sweet of Audrey! Also, I see that Candace was, indeed, released! I am excited for her and am praying that she will make all the re-adjustments ahead of her and will settle into the new life that God has planned for her! EW is really an exciting and extremely meaningful ministry to be in!!”
This TRANSFORMATION From “Insider” to “Encourager” Matters! Ms. Candace
“I wanted to touch base with you on all the goodness that (EW) brought into my life on my journey here. You never let me down. You were always there doing whatever was needed to pull me through every time I turned around and I thank you. I’m privileged to have gotten to be a part of Encouraging Word Ministry. I am forwarding my new address and exact release date, so you will know I am very excited to “Encourage”. I’m praying blessings are always in your favor. I know you are always spreading your love to all the ladies who need it. Until then, you take care, as we are all called to recognize that life is God’s good gift to us! EW amazes me.”
This Relationship Matters! INSIDER Ms. Belinda & Ms. Margaret
A 6 Page Letter from an Insider. Can you just imagine that this is the 48th letter from this Insider to her “Encourager” since August 2016…AND they both still have so much to share that it takes 6 pages!!?!
They each always close in a personal prayer for the other. Their relationship is what this ministry strives to be all about! Belinda writes “God I’m so very grateful that you put Ms. Margaret into my life especially at the time that you did! Father, you and only You know when and what we need at the exact time. I’m so completely Thankful for that also, as you God know, that I struggle with voicing what I need when I need it. God be with Ms. Margaret and her family during this 4th of July. Keep them in your embrace and add the shield of protection completely around them. God we ask all this in your name as you say: ask in your name and it shall be granted and become true. So we ask all this in your very precious son’s name, Lord Jesus Christ. Amen”
July 2021–Encouragers and Insiders of the Month!
This BIRTHDAY Mattered! INSIDER Ms. Jessica, Denver Women’s Correctional
“Thank you so much for the birthday wishes, it was very heart warming and the message that went with it brought tears to my eyes…not bad tears but good ones. I needed that truth to be revealed to me, so I was very grateful for that. Ms. Debbie, I’ve made some bad choices and I’m not proud of that. I just need a second chance to get out and be there for my family. My son is only 17 and he’s out in the world with his little family, his baby boy is due in July and they are out there on their own. I need to be out there to guide him, help him and provide for him. He has done so good, but he’s struggling so much. I’ve made some bad choices and I’m not proud of that. I just need a second chance to get out there and be there for my family. Jeremiah 29:11 says ‘ I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
These QUOTES Matter!
ENCOURAGER Ms. Hazel: 18 assignments since 2018
“I am encouraged more than ever before because this virus is causing us to “call on the name of the Lord Jesus” even more!!! Our faith is being increased because we’re getting to know Him better through “prayer”…talking to Him about our needs and problems, and situations; then “expecting” Him to do it for us…and meet every need on our behalf! Hallelujah!”
INSIDER Mr. Marcus, TX/LA Border
Marcus closes his letters with:
2 BLESSED 2 B STRESSED
2 ANNOINTED 2 B DISAPPOINTED
This SURPRISE Matters! DONATION from INSIDER Ms. Candace before release
“Today, I’m so blessed as I sit here writing you and Ms. Karen (Encourager), I’m graduating Therapeutic Community today! And I received your farewell (Mizpah) letter yesterday! I was so wondering where I was going to tithe and I was praying & asking the Lord, to show me, and it’s on my heart to send this to Encouraging Word. I feel so blessed at this time in my life. I couldn’t feel this way without the help of your ministry. I want to thank you very much. I should be out on the 16th of June. I’ll send word. God Bless.”
This THANK YOU Matters! INSIDER Ms. Kimberlee, LaVista
“I just want to say thank you (Ms. Debbie W., Encourager) for being an amazing and great support. I have been accepted to the half-way house, so I leave next week. You were a great encouragement with all the letters and stuff. God Bless You! Always-Kimberlee (written on her personal, hand made card)
This WATERCOLOR Matters to Us!
Insider Ms. Kelly (DWCF) send the image below to her Encourager Ms. Faith. It is a perfect depiction of Nolensville with hills, huge trees, winding roads, country estates, and lots of peaceful space and color. Thank you Kelly!
June 2021-Encouragers and Insiders of the Month
This TESTIMONY Matters! INSIDER Ms. Candace, Colorado, 18 letters in 1 year
“Thank you so very much for your Encouraging (Parole Hearing) letter. I almost felt as if I was leaving to go to college and saying goodbye to my family! Yes, I cried a few tears! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! Yes, my Parole is on May 26 and my graduation from T.C. Program is April 30. I couldn’t have done this all without all the love and kindness from my personal Encourager and the love of the Lord that works through your ministry! Ms. Debbie, It all started with you and I don’t want it to end with this. I’d love to see that it be a stepping stone while I’m on parole and I want to become an Encourager and lead more small Bible Study groups, not ever forgetting about the encouragement your ministry gave me while being incarcerated. What a testimony to my life. Stronger together, weaker apart. Thank you so much. I will continue to correspond and I’m very blessed to have had this time with you 2 beautiful ladies.”
This BIRTHDAY LETTER Mattered! INSIDER Ms. Amber, LaVista
“Thank you so much for your letter and the birthday wishes. It meant so much to me to receive that and to read the words that came with it. This year has barely started, but it’s already such a different one for me. I’m getting closer to God and learning how to build a relationship with HIM. I’m also learning my self-worth and not just accepting the affirmations I give myself, but also believing it to be the truth whole-heartedly. I appreciate your letters very much and that you never stop telling everyone that we’re unique & special. Thank you for always reminding me that God loves me and made me in HIS image. And thank you for keeping me and my children in your prayers. It’s very much appreciated, even if I don’t speak it.
This BLESSING Matters! ENCOURAGER Ms. Debbie W., 10 assignments since 2018
“I am blessed to be participating in Encouraging Word Ministry in so many ways. I am able to share special favorite bible verses, inspirational pages from Sarah Young’s many daily devotionals and bible studies. My spiritual journey has been enriched by the letters, prayers, and personal testimonies of these women’s continued faith in God and His abounding love, grace and mercy he showers upon them. My prayer life is more focused and spirit driven than ever before because of the relationships I have been privileged to be a part of through An Encouraging Word Ministry.”
These SURPRISES Matter! $100 DONATION from INSIDER + Mother’s Day Card to ALL
An Encouraging Word Ministry is a self-funded ministry, so imagine how amazed we were to receive a surprise $100 Western Union MoneyGram from one of our Insiders! That was a first!
And one of our “Brother-in-Christ, Insiders” sent a Happy Mother’s Day Card “To ALL the Mothers at Encouraging Word Ministry.” Thanks be to God! who always provides and surprises!
This QUOTE Matters! Insider Ms. Onesia, LaVista
“My Jesus Calling devotional is probably the most important book I own. I can thank your organization for that.” (As of today, over 450 new, personal “Jesus Calling” daily devotionals and Bibles have been provided to Insiders by the EW Ministry.)
May 2021–Encouragers and Insiders of the Month!
Mr. John (Encourager)
Mr. Torri, (Insider/Texas)
Insider Mr. Torri and his Encourager John have exchanged more than 40 letters so far. Below are excerpts, condensed with his permission.
“I’m sending prayers out to you and Encouraging Word Ministry. I have learned a lot these past 5 years walking with God here in prison, thank you for all the encouragement you give me. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. God has truly blessed me when he placed Encouraging Word Ministry and you in my life. I got accepted into the Faith-based program. You have been a real inspiration to me. I look at myself as I walk the path with God to leave the past life behind me and strive for the future God has planned for me. I want to thank you & Encouraging Word for being a part of my life when I really needed you to talk to. I have to change so that I can lead my family & friends to Christ. This cycle the world is in now has to stop and we can only do it with God’s help. We are having a blessed revival lock-down now with singing, and testimonials on what we are doing to further God’s Kingdom in our lives. The revival has been going so good that the doors of this prison system have been flung open. Men who have been locked up 20, 30, even 40 years have finally made parole and all of them are men of God. Now tell me our God isn’t awesome! I’m also leading a Prayer Call every Monday-Thursday here in our dormitory. I received your letter on a day when my life changed. I’m currently in quarantine…everything is shut down. Nothing but people being rushed to the hospital on a daily basis (written in April 2020, shared with the ministry this month).
“The whole world is in an uproar now with all this racial tension going around. Things like this are happening because God is not in the midst of our lives. We’re supposed to love everyone just as we love God. In God’s eyes we are all family no matter what race, color, or ethnic background.”
“Brother, thanks for the birthday wish. If it is part of God’s will, He will bless me with another year. If not, I know that I will be spending eternity in heaven with my Lord and Savior who is the Head of my life. These years that I have been corresponding with you have truly been a blessing and learning experience.”
“I want to thank God 1st and foremost for allowing us to correspond. Also, I want to thank Encouraging Word Ministry for placing us together. Like you said, ‘We have both grown in God over these years.’”
April 2021–Encouragers and Insiders of the Month!
Ms. Teri (Canada)
At 17, she was an Insider! When she says she understands her Insiders, it’s for real! In September 2005, she gave her life to Christ. Raising a blended family of 5 children, Teri took a leap of faith to share her testimony to spare them from making the same mistakes. Today all 5 of her children are Christian, knowing her testimony and loving her for it. God has been so good to me and ,as I say at the end of the tape, “There Is Hope!” Her goal for her prison ministry…Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.—Proverbs 3:5-6. Proudly introducing Ms. Teri at the end of this documentary on providing for ex-offenders: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMb15J2lnLY
Ms. Chris (Georgia) and Ms. Hazel (Colorado)
Ms. Chris, a fellow employee in Texas, moved with the Bairds to Colorado in 2002; now a faithful “Encourager” residing in Georgia. Ms. Hazel, her sister in Colorado, is a faithful and prolific writer for this ministry. Together they have faithfully encouraged 27 Women Insiders!
Insider Socorro P. (Colorado)
“I would like to thank you for the beautiful Bible and Jesus Calling (devotional). I love the bible. It makes me happy to know how wonderful our God is and how he sends us beautiful and loving people such as yourself. Thank you for the prayers. You ladies are truly amazing. Thank you for being the meaning of love for Christ.”
Insider Denise R. (Colorado)
“I am so thankful that I have you as a pen pal. You always send such beautiful cards and they always say such beautiful things. The cards really help me get through the days here.”
Insider Anthony W. (Texas)
“Hope You’re Feeling Better” card for the wife of Encourager, Mr. Al. Anthony writes: Hello Mrs. Al. I just want you to know that I am praying for you always, knowing that God will heal you in your pain. I hope that this card will put a smile on your face and know that you have a brother/friend praying for you. Hope you feel better soon. God Bless you and your family and take care and be safe. Peace and Blessing, Always, Anthony
The Encouraging Word Ministry is made up of Encouragers, Insiders and Comforters. Click the links below to read the testimonies sent in by each group. The best way to learn about the impact of the ministry is through their words. Let them tell you the story!
“Encouragers” companion and walk a faith journey together with our Insiders. We do not preach, teach, intercede or fix them. We listen and care. Based on the Stephen Ministry model, men write to men and women write to women.
“Insiders” are incarcerated Christians seeking a relationship with Jesus Christ and other Christians. Each one completes a “Ready to Fly” form that aids the Encourager with poignant prayers and devotional topics relevant to them.
“Comforters” are Insiders who have become God’s hands and soul from the inside. They lead Bible studies and pray for others. Some even provide necessities for those who cannot work and have no money at all, from their own resources.