Backward, Forward

by Dawn Staples

Backslider? I was one of the worst.

I quit everything. I even quit Jesus.

That was when God sat me down and gave me a long time to think about the path I was going down: three years in prison. A very long time to straighten out myself.

When I made it to admission into the Ohio Reformatory for Women, in Marysville, I was five months pregnant. So, I was quickly moved to Franklin Pre-Release Center, in Columbus. I had attended church a few times in the three weeks I spent in ORW, and even went up and asked for prayer for my baby; but, when they brought me to Franklin, I “backslid” again. I couldn’t understand the chaplain, so I used that as my excuse not to attend.

Shortly after my daughter was born, I was moved so that I could take care of my grandmother, who was in prison with me at that time. Walking through the hall one day, I saw choir practice going on in the dayroom. They were not singing, though; they were doing sign language. I was mesmerized, and God compelled me to go inside. I sat and watched, and I learned half of a song in about 15 minutes.

They said I was a natural. I asked if I could join and I was told “yes.” Then I was told the rules: church on Sunday was mandatory, even if we were not performing. I wasn’t very pleased by that rule, but I really wanted to do this, so I said, “Okay.”

All of this was in August of 2007, and in December I was being promoted to director. I haven’t missed a Sunday service in over a year, and I thank God for that ability to attend. The name of my choir is Cherubim, and I am so happy directing the choir members that I wouldn’t trade this position for anything.

We have five members right now, and one is trying to decide if she wants to join. God used Cherubim to bring me back to him and to teach me to stop “backsliding.” I pray that I am able to continue this ministry when I leave these walls, and I praise God for bringing me into it.

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