We are excited to announce that Sarah Atkinson is our April Volunteer of the Month!
Sarah has been a devoted volunteer for Freedom Forever Ministries thanks to her work that moves our day to day operations forward and volunteer work with Good Grief at the McCracken County Regional Jail.
Sarah met Lee through church and was intrigued at how Lee was giving back to the female prisoners. She wanted to help with Lee’s cause and had some time to spare being recently retired. She reached out to Lee to see where she could help. Initially, volunteering within the prisons wasn’t a task Sarah felt called by God to help with, but she wanted to give back to the ministry by helping in the office. In her volunteer role, she maintained documentation of prison visits and any paperwork needed for the daily operations of Freedom Forever Ministries.
Because of her strong devotion to our cause, Sarah quickly became an invaluable volunteer to our ministry. After one year of volunteering within the ministry’s office, Sarah believed that God was calling her to contribute to a new task within the organization. She signed up to volunteer with Good Grief, a program created by FFM’s founder, Lee Rust, that helps inmates deal with their grief while they are in jail. Female prisoners often suffer from an enormous amount of grief because they have been separated from their children, families and friends and secluded in a life behind bars.
During her first volunteer visit to the McCracken County Regional Jail, Sarah remembers one lady who was serving what was likely her first offense. Sarah remembers thinking that she simply didn’t belong in jail and recalled the woman feeling so much grief and crying excessively during the ministry session.
It was this experience any many others that taught Sarah so much about her faith and how similar she was to the women behind bars. She experienced a change of heart and realized through God’s guidance that the incarcerated women faced the fears, doubts and experienced similar problems as she did.
“I would like to think as a Christian, I don’t have preconceived ideas. But truthfully, we all have preconceived ideas about women in prison and jail. We all think that we live God’s way as Christians but we all fail from time to time. I remember seeing an inmate with tattoos all over her body and I thought to myself that she looked rough. She ended up being one of the sweetest and kindest people within the program. Her appearance was completely different from her heart. That experience taught me a lesson to really get to know someone before prejudging,” says Sarah.
Since her time spent volunteering within the jail, Sarah has grown within her faith and finds the barriers she once had in place were no longer existent. God softened her heart and taught her to always get to know a person before making any preconceived judgments.
“Anytime you get to meet new people, you get a new opportunity to learn about them.”
Sarah gained so much from her time spent volunteering with the ministry, especially how much she learned from other faith-filled Christians.
“You get so much reward from working with other believers. Their faith bolsters your faith. I just want to say what an extraordinary person Lee Rust truly is. She is one of a kind. She is a living testimony that Jesus Christ can change your life. She preaches it and she walks it. She doesn’t just say it, she lives it.”
When asked to reflect on the importance of Freedom Forever Ministries mission, Sarah says “Freedom Forever Ministry doesn’t care who you are or what you have done. The ministry wants you to know there is room at the cross for everyone. It’s a beautiful thing that this ministry can sit down with the broken and tell these women that they believe they can change. Not only that but that they want to give them the tools to help them change. I think that is why Jesus talks so much about the heart. The heart is everything. It’s the center of who we are.”
Sarah advocates for Freedom Forever Ministries and says that people should donate because our organization helps people that most people don’t think about or have a desire to help. We are all God’s children and believe that we all deserve to know Him and hear his Word.
“The greatest gift I have gained from my work with Freedom Forever Ministries is learned how to treat people the way Jesus would treat people.”
Congratulations to Sarah Atkinson for her nomination as our spotlight volunteer!