Summit’s ministry in the women’s side of 33rd, through their partnership with the Inside Out program, began in the spring of 2013. The ministry began with a team of just two people: Tammy Spence and Jenny Brodnax, who had met through a Summit trip to Malawi. Forming the new ministry, they began the venture to providing one-on-one mentors inside jail, with the future goal being the addition of support on the outside as women transition into their next right step.
Tammy describes the moment she became involved in the ministry through Summit’s 33rd Street Minister Bill Behr: “Bill said to me, ‘You know, we’re starting a new women’s ministry in 33rd.’ That was not even on my radar or anything I was ever interested in, but I said, ‘I’ll do it!’ I know that was God, because if it had been something I had thought about first, I may not have said that.” A few moments later, Jenny Brodnax happened to walk into that same office, and Tammy seized the opportunity to volunteer her friend, “And Jenny will do it!” After a conversation with Bill, the two began the process to be cleared to volunteer in the jail.
Having served inside jail for a year now, Jenny fondly describes the ministry inside 33rd: “Jesus wasn’t going after the perfect people, and neither is this ministry. We’re going after those who aren’t perfect. They may not be completely lost, but they’re lost in the moment.”
Tammy agrees: “We’re the first people who have seen anything in them for years. There’s no agenda. Yes, I want them to start walking a life of Christ, but I will love them either way… One of the first questions we’re asked is, ‘Will you be my outside mentor?’ but I don’t think that’s what they’re asking. I think they’re asking, ‘Will you love me for more than a week?’ I always say, ‘I will be your friend no matter what choices you make. And I will love you through this process.’”
In conversation with leaders and volunteers in the Women’s 33rd Street Jail ministry, the motivation behind their service is inspiring and completely transparent. The goals of the ministry are to love people and to help them understand the truth of who they are in Christ; the practical next steps and details all flow from that as their source. It’s the way Christ loves us. Really, one of the reasons this ministry is so beautiful to behold is that it mirrors so closely what we read in the Gospels about the ministry of the One who makes all things beautiful again.
Be a part of what God is doing within the men and women of the Orange County Jail. Attend one of our Volunteer Interest Meetings to find out more about 33rd Street Jail ministry. Join us after each service at each campus this weekend or Wednesday, May 21st at 7 p.m. at Herndon. You can also contact Abbie Abbott at firstname.lastname@example.org, to find out more about our 33rd Street ministry.