Carrie Brown

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Prison ministries encourage personal, spiritual growth

WETUMPKA, Ala. (BP) -- When an inmate enters Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Ala., she loses her old life. But in Alicia Smallwood's eyes, she also gains an opportunity for a new life in Christ regardless of past or present circumstances.  "She (the inmate) can't see her kids, can't help the person who is taking care of them. She thinks she has lost everything," said Smallwood, a chaplain. "I tell her that God has cleared her mind of drugs, of men, of stealing. In here it's just her and God, and it's up to her whether she takes advantage of that."  In prisons throughout Alabama, chaplains and ministry volunteers share the same message of hope and freedom in Jesus Christ that pastors preach from the pulpit every Sunday. In the setting of a prison, the message of forgiveness of sins is a powerful one, Smallwood said. Not every inmate wants to hear it, but that doesn't stop Smallwood and other Christian chaplains from trying.