Between September of 2013 and September of 2015, Indiana saw the number of “children in need of services” jump by 40 percent, according to a recent report by the federal government. Indiana officials blame heroin and prescription painkillers for this increase. As the crisis continues to rise, infants are being abandoned in hospitals and placed into foster care. There is hope that can be found in the midst of this, a hope that is found in Christ and through a movement of Biblical Hospitality. This movement gives safe families to children and supports parents to keep families together.
This is Mindy’s Story
As a heroin user for eight years, Mindy found herself feeling helpless, hopeless, alone and overwhelmed as she sat in Floyd county jail in Indiana. A week before her arrest, Mindy discovered she was pregnant. With no support and arrest warrants in other counties, Mindy was ready to give up, and attempted suicide.
In and out of jail since the age of eighteen, she could not stay sober. With lacks in community support and family to encourage her, she would always go back out to the streets and continue to use. The more time she spent in jail, the more she opened up to volunteers of the Residents Encountering Christ ministry. These volunteers came in and presented the gospel plainly to Mindy. While in jail, Mindy gave her life to Christ. She was able to get a support group and built a relationship with the chaplain and his wife, Toby & Sonya Jenkins.
When Mindy was 8 months pregnant she realized that she wasn’t going to get out of jail before her baby was born. Panic set in. With the relationship built with Toby, she was introduced to the Safe Families for Children ministry.
“I didn’t meet anyone from Safe Families until the day I had him (Malachi); it was very scary for me because I had never heard about this organization ever in my life. Here I was, about to hand my baby over to someone I had never met in my life. I had to trust God, knowing that this was the best situation, considering what I was in. Because he would have been given to the state at that point, and he probably wouldn’t be sitting with me right now.”
Mindy was able to see Malachi once on a video visit before being released from jail in July of 2015. During her last two months, Mindy spoke weekly to Michelle, the host mom. Having an open relationship with the host family was one of the most reassuring aspects of the placement, Mindy said.
For Mindy, grasping the mercy of God was one of the hardest things for her to accept.
Once Mindy was released from jail she longed to be with her child, but knew that she was not equipped to care for a newborn baby. Michelle and her husband kept Malachi until Mindy was able to transition him into her life full-time within the first month and a half. Mindy moved into St. Elizabeth’s and connected immediately with the staff and has depended on them for support and next steps as she makes plans to transition out of the center at the beginning of the year.
With warrants in Jefferson county, Kentucky, Mindy was encouraged to turn herself in. She was not alone, she had a support group go with her, including a team of people from Safe Families. This was the first time she had a court date that didn’t end in incarceration. The judge was able to see the support Mindy now has and with one pending court date, the odds are in her favor to stay out of jail.
For Mindy, grasping the mercy of God was one of the hardest things for her to accept. For so many years, Mindy lived a life of chaos. “Laying everything down at His feet, and giving it to him, is overwhelming. I always thought I had to be perfect…today I understand that I don’t have to be like that, and it is okay to struggle.”
Now, reunited with Malachi, completely healthy and active, Mindy plans to move into her own apartment at the beginning of the new year and plans to apply for college within the next year.
Because of the ministry of Safe Families, Mindy’s overwhelmed spirit has changed meanings from negative to positive. She has been able to identify no longer as a drug addict, inmate, or a nobody. Now, she identifies as someone who is worthy and a daughter of Christ, secure in her standing with the creator God.
“When I heard about Safe Families, I knew it was God putting it in my life, and now looking back I see that everything fell into place just the way it was suppose to; He didn’t put me on this Earth for no mistake.”
What You Can Do to Help More Families like Mindy
It takes a village. Not just to raise a child, but to give hope back to the hopeless. Volunteering with Safe Families impacts families on a local level. Seeing lives changed and transformed through Biblical hospitality and basic discipleship is enough to start a revival in your church, neighborhood, and even in the entire city. Please, consider engaging with this ministry, there are opportunities to care that extend beyond hosting a child. Whatever season of life you find yourself, there is a place for you within Safe Families for Children.