Tuesday, August 30, 2011


My Photo
Denise Matthews
Heart of God East Africa is dedicated to taking the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Africa.  I was recently contacted by Denise Matthews founder and Volunteer Executive Director of this wonderful program. She was interested in The Women of Block 12 and graciously offered to let us post stories from her ministry.

Hundreds of thousands of women are imprisoned around the world. Despite their differences in nationality, language, culture, and location, their stories have common themes. They are often the victims of their circumstances having been born into cultures that dominate and abuse them. Over the coming weeks, I will share Heart of God stories with you.

HGEA Prison Ministry: Broken Chains – The Story of Susan … “my body will be hanged but my life is in the LORD.”

The woman about whom you are about to read is named Susan. Susan in on death row in a women’s prison.
In order to protect her and the ministry the name of the prison is being withheld.
She is very dedicated to the Lord. As you will read this wasn’t always the case.
Susan was involved in the murder of her husband. She says that her husband didn’t have enough trust in her, he could not make decisions over his trust in her without the counsel of his mother. Susan became frustrated and felt the need to claim her right as a wife. Things got progressively worse, they were fighting nearly everyday.
One fateful night, things would change forever in the course of Susan’s life. Her husband came home and they began fighting. They fought almost the entire night. Susan felt that her life was in danger and so she plotted to kill her husband. Susan was not a believer and made her decision based on two reasons.
Number one, she wanted to end her misery. Number two she knew she would benefit from the riches of the family.
She devised a plan with the house maid and they killed her husband. They made the claim to authorities that they had been attacked by gangs. Investigations were made and she was found guilty of her husbands murder.
Susan has been in prison for the past twelve years. Five years ago, Susan had an encounter with God. She confessed her guilt of murder, she poured her heart out to Him and the LORD had mercy on her.
Susan has since that time become the praise and worship leader in the prison. She witnesses to the other women.
She is condemned to hang in November 2011. She is not afraid of her judgement because she knows that “my body will be hanged but my life is in the LORD”.
Susan claims, “the LORD allowed me to come here that I may know HIm, so I know I will not die here”.
Susan recently sat for her senior 6 exams and passed. She is now enrolled for university classes.
When you look at Susan, it’s hard to believe her story. She sings and worships God with a love like no other. She is not what you would expect to see of a woman in prison about to be hanged.
When our team ministered inside this prison in June 2011 and found the news about Susan’s sentence it broke our hearts. She radiates Christ and sings with joy in her heart. This is a woman whose chains have been broken!
Susan’s favorite scripture is “He turned my mourning into dancing” Psalm 30:11.

Life Transforming Prison Ministry, Saphan Muhanguzi
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For more information on women in prison visit: http://TheWomenOfBlock12.com.
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Friday, August 26, 2011

Watercolors with Ronna

First we sketched. . . .
The next Georgia O'Keeffe?
Joyful Souls Aftercare group had our first art class with guest teacher Ronna Paradowski.
Photographer Pat -
one of the creative ones!
Way to go, Gerri....

Joy's display board with everyone's paintings.

Thank you Kathy K. for your donation of art supplies!

Sunday, August 21, 2011


UPDATE - Joyful Souls Women's Aftercare met on Friday, August 19th with therapist Jill Turcott-Nielsen . This is Ms. Nielsen's third visit to our group. The topic was "Dealing With Difficult People."

First, we were asked to make a (private) list of individuals who we considered difficult to deal with along with the individual traits that were problematic for us. No one had trouble coming up with a list!  As we shared our thoughts, common behaviors emerged. Our difficult people included those who are:  *gossips, * controlling, *argumentative, *abusive, * liars - - - the list goes on. We soon realized that most of the difficult people in our lives are familiar to all of us. 

Jill explained that many of these individuals have underlying issues that really don't have anything to do with us, Instead, their behavior is motivated by a wide range of problems such as childhood trauma, poor self-esteem, addiction issues and varying degrees of anger and rage. She asked us to step back from a situation in which we were confronted by a difficult person and consider the underlying causes before deciding how to respond.
Twelve group members shared their "difficult people" scenarios and Jill offered suggestions for dealing with each situation.
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Jill Turcott-Nielsen is a Catholic Therapist who has a private practice in Wauwatosa, WI. Her specialties are couples therapy, trauma, relationships, depression and anxiety. She can be reached at: 414-258-2600.
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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Women and Pornography

I just finished reading a book by Crystal Renaud called "Dirty Girls Come Clean." I wanted to mention it on this blog because is is about another kind of addiction that affects women - the addiction to pornography. Crystal has a ministry specifically designed to help women step out of this dark and hidden obsession into the light of forgiveness and healing through faith in Jesus Christ.

I will be interviewing Cyrstal on my next blog, take a look at her website  DIRTY GIRLS MINISTRIES, and check back in a few days for her interview. The book is available in paperback (just click on the photo above) or on Kindle, which is where I read it.
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Tuesday, August 9, 2011


My thanks to Jane B. - Brookfield Central High School - class of '63 who looked me up on our reunion website and decided to read my book. Jane, You made my day.

I finished reading The Women of Block 12 a while ago, and haven’t stopped thinking or sharing its content with others. The book was so powerful that I found the message disturbing because it conveyed reality—the women were victimized and so wrongly shaped as children. Added to the book’s intensity it is told through your personal and intimate experiences of which evoked authority. I had to set the book aside at times because it ignited so much emotion. It must have been a difficult task for you—performing emotional ministry and then reliving the women’s stories while writing the book. Congratulations to you again!

You are a talented writer and an inspirational leader. The first part of your book, explaining the circumstances/backgrounds of women in prison and how you became involved in jail ministry was enlightening. Although the subject matter was grave, you managed to intertwine humor that exemplified your genuine humility and tremendous compassion. I was impressed and enjoyed your writing style. When will your next book be published? Truly, you are on a roll.

The book’s second part giving individual accounts was so sobering. The contents of the letters were authentic, being from your journals. That credibility intensified the depiction of victimized women. Interestingly to me, the women never (my interpretation) blamed others, instead tried to rise above their circumstances forgetting they were helpless children during years which should have been a loving, understanding, and caring period.

On a side note, living a few miles from Orlando, I was bombarded with Casey Anthony media. Yes she was perhaps a poor mother, and yes lacked good judgment, but I cannot stop relating her developmental life to The Women in Block 12 . All humans are born innocent beings and through their growing years are influenced, shaped by parents and circumstances. Your book influenced me to look beyond media portrayal and try to understand the influence of Casey Anthony’s young life in her dysfunctional family. What a distressing heartbreaking happening for her, her lost child, her parents, and so many others. Please accept my side note as a complement to you; your book has a life of its own, spilling over and impacting my thoughts, trying to understand her rash behavior.

My next emails are to my close BCHS friends with information and encouragement to read Women of Block 12. Your book is a powerful writing.
Take care, and keep me posted regarding your next book. I am truly a fan.
Jane B.


Stained Glass
Christ The Servant Lutheran Church - Waukesha, WI

This evening, the council of  Christ The Servant Lutheran Church in Waukesha, WI will consider the adoption of a prison & jail ministry as a part of our outreach to the community.

The proposal of this program is the result of recent changes in our church community.
  • Members of Christ The Servant have graciously embraced my book, "The Women of Block 12." As a result, many are participating in the support of an ex-offender and offering help to the Joyful Souls Aftercare group held at the St. Vincent dePaul Store in Waukesha.

  • Members of St. Andrew's Church, Waukesha, will be joining our congregation for the first time this Sunday. St Andrew's has a strong presence in the community as a church that ministers to Huber Facility inmates. This ministry includes, Bible studies, mentoring, and bringing inmates to church.

  • Pastor David Zant and his good friend, Eric are proposing an outreach to correctional officers. Eric is a CO in a nearby county jail and he is initiating prayer support and Bible studies designed specifically for officers.
There will be three brief presentations to the council this evening on Aftercare, Huber ministry, and correctional officer outreach. I will keep you posted on this exciting proposal as our congregation moves forward in serving the Waukesha community.
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For more information about jail/prison ministry visit: The Women of Block 12.