Monica first heard about Crossroads more than twenty years ago when a woman in her Bible study told the group about mentoring. The ministry appealed to Monica, so she signed up to mentor in 2004. Over the years, Monica poured love and encouragement into many men and women behind bars, and she learned a great deal about the loneliness and shame that pervades prisons. She also learned about the dangers of life behind bars when students told her they could trust no one but their mentors.
Monica never imagined that she would put this learning to use in a very personal way. But in 2019, her son Anthony went to prison to serve a three- to twenty-year sentence, and Monica helped him sign up for Crossroads.
Anthony’s conviction and sentencing were a period of deep despair for the entire family. There had been ups and downs and some trouble while Monica’s boys were growing up, but she had raised them in a faithful home marked by prayer and midweek services at church. How could he go so far astray?
“When he told us about his crime, we all said, ‘Why?’” Monica remembered. “Everybody had warned him and helped him. He had everything going for him—a good job, a beautiful wife, three girls; they bought a house that they were working on. He had a really good life, and he threw it all away.”
Behind bars, Anthony often sinks into hopelessness, and the biggest burden he shoulders is being unable to help raise his daughters. Monica and her husband have stepped up to help Anthony’s wife, and they live close enough to see the girls nearly every day. Monica’s husband fills in for Anthony at events like father-daughter dances.
The most challenging part of late has been seeing his earliest release date come and go with no clear idea of when he may gain his freedom. It will soon be four years since Anthony, now forty years old, was locked up.
Still, regular phone calls and Crossroads Bible studies get them through. Monica is also heartened that her son Michael became a Crossroads mentor after Anthony became incarcerated, and Michael has been a great source of encouragement for his brother. Monica has noticed a change in Anthony, seeing a man who has become more tender and takes nothing for granted. When he feels safe, he talks about his lessons with others. He helped men in his unit get Bibles from Crossroads.
“We talk about Crossroads, and he gets so excited when he hears from his mentor. He is so excited to get mail from people besides us,” said Monica. “He is in Tier 2, [studying] 10 Men You Should Know, just like my student Carlos. Tony really amazes me with his answers and his thoughts that are from a completely different perspective than the thoughts my Bible study group has.”
Now nearly four years into a challenge Monica never envisioned, she thinks often of her students over the years who asked her to pray for their mothers.
“No matter what, a mother is a mother, and the love I have for my son can’t be broken,” she said. “I see how that story of the lost son Jesus tells is so true. I pray night and day for my son. He is never out of my mind. I am thankful God could finally get his attention and hopefully turn his life around.”