“Bent knees break chains,” says Teresa Wood, a former inmate of Branch County Jail.
In July of 2022, the judge challenged Teresa by asking her that if she were to die, what kind of legacy would she leave behind for her children. Teresa said that she didn’t have an answer and stated, “he [the judge] suggested that I feed my spirit while I was incarcerated. That really resonated with me and I decided that I no longer wanted to die and that God had a plan for me.”
Teresa reflected on how she began to experience God’s mercy and love. Through spending time with chaplains, like Jessica Saddler, she surrendered her life to God and plugged into many of the services provided through Reach the Forgotten Jail Ministry. She said, “I learned that God was doing for me what I couldn’t do for myself, that bent knees break chains, and that when I seek God’s will for my life over my own, things got easier.”
As Teresa started to accept her story more, she learned to understand that God is always with her, “even in the darkest of places.” She says, “There is always light at the end of the tunnel as long as I am willing to put in the work, listen to what God has planned for me, and walk by faith.”
As Teresa reflected on some of the ways she was able to take the judge’s admonition to feed her spirit, she reflected on the story of Paul, “Paul’s story in the Bible reminds me that no one is beyond redemption. God used people who were broken by transforming their lives, so that they could become powerful witnesses. God took Paul, a murderer, and made him one of his most effective servants. There is still hope for me to do good in the world, for no dream is out of reach if God’s got you.”
Since Teresa has been released, she has remained in contact with Chaplain Jessica Saddler. On January 15th, Chaplain Jessica was able to baptize her at Dexter Lake Church in Battle Creek, MI, where Teresa now attends.
Teresa has been incarcerated a few times. She lost her parents 14 months apart, which put a large stress on her. This last time, she took a stance to change her life around. The steps she has taken have proven that she is seeking transformation. Please pray for continued healing and guidance as Teresa resides in a transitional home in Coldwater, MI.
In closing, Chaplain Jessica stated, “She is growing in her faith and recently signed up to go back to college. February 6th she started cosmetology school! What a story of God’s grace and transforming power! Her story is a reminder that no one is beyond God’s reach.”