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I will never forget the first time the prison doors shut behind me. There I was standing in the holding room, thinking, “What has Robby Speer talked me into this time?” Three hours later, as Robby and I walked together across the prison yard, he asked me what I thought about Sports Reach’s prison ministry. My response, “Is there anything better than spending all day playing sports and sharing the Gospel?”

Since that day, I have spent many hours playing sports and sharing the Gospel with women in various prisons in Florida through Sports Reach. Even better, I have been able to bring along many other women with me, most of whom are in college, to engage in this ministry.

That first trip has led to many other opportunities to lead teams of women into prisons in Florida. One of the highlights of leading these trips is investing in the lives of the college-age ladies on my team, and getting to see God grow them through these trips. For many of them, God has used these trips to call them into serving prisoners and being an advocate for them in their careers. For others, it’s an awareness of, and sensitivity to, a large population of our society within the prisons who are in desperate need to hear about the salvation and freedom that comes through Jesus Christ alone.

As a leader of these trips, one of my favorite things to do is to step away from the action on the field, whether it be volleyball, kickball, softball or football, and watch as young women sit side by side with prisoners of all ages listening to their stories and constantly seeking to point these women to Christ and his saving power. It’s a joy to see the Lord break down walls and stereotypes on both sides and unite these women. The women in these prisons are hungry to be heard and loved. As our teams have observed, they are no different than us. We all need to know that we are valued and loved. We get to share with these women the greatest display of how much they are loved and valued in God, the Father’s, giving of his Son, Jesus, to die on their behalf and pay the penalty that their sins deserve.

As I have had the privilege to talk to many of the women within prison, teach in numerous chapel sessions, and share my testimony and the Gospel during times of playing sports, the one thing that I have found is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to change lives, regardless of one’s background. This Gospel is for all people. Jesus came to heal the sick, and that is all of us. Each of our hearts are fully infected with sin, and the only solution is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is through faith in the work of Christ on our behalf that our sins can be forgiven and we can experience freedom in Christ that leads to obedience. It took going to prison to see what freedom in Christ really looks like. These women may be imprisoned by steel and wire, but, in Christ Jesus, they have been set free from guilt and shame, and their lives of obedience to Christ transcend the prison walls.

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