Growing up in an agnostic family, Marilyn spent her youth lost in the world of parties.
But a night in jail more than two decades ago changed everything.
That night, she found herself at a turning point, like many of the incarcerated people she now mentors.
“The Lord had to free me from a lot of stuff, a lot of drugs and addictions, and He did,” she said. “That is why I got into Crossroads—because I felt like I could share my experience with others.”
Marilyn empathizes deeply with her students, having once glimpsed that life herself. Marilyn was motivated by the second chance she found through faith to join Crossroads as a volunteer mentor in 2006. She believes that programs like Crossroads offer a lifeline for people behind bars, providing avenues for redemption, growth, and a deeper connection with God.
“The students are in a hard place, and I admire their reaching out and trying to make things right,” she said. “Some of it is sad, and some is joyful. It is really an emotional ride. I had a taste of it when I was out there. Before I had Jesus as Lord in my life, I spent one overnight in jail. That was enough for me.”
As she writes to her students, Marilyn encourages them to view themselves through God’s eyes, highlighting His grace and love as well as the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Supported by her husband, friends, and church community, Marilyn also shares with her students the importance of having a Christian community.
Over the years, Marilyn has served as a one-on-one mentor for many students in Crossroads’ Tier 2 program.
She spoke highly of one of these students, Starr, who was released from prison in 2019 and is continuing her studies with Crossroads on the outside. Today, Starr is a manager at a T-shirt factory and is thriving in her personal and professional life.
On her Crossroads enrollment form, Starr wrote, “God’s presence in my life is the most awesome experience. It is so great to be able to go to Him in prayer about any and everything that is going on with me. . . . It is not always easy, but I know His way is the right way. So, I try to always follow His lead in all things—big and small.”
While Marilyn provides encouragement to Starr, she also finds herself inspired. Despite often working fifty-hour work weeks and caring for her grandmother, Starr remains committed to her studies, even if it means completing them at three in the morning.
“God has really been working in her life,” Marilyn said. “She has made amends with her family and is doing great at her job.”
Marilyn’s experience as a mentor has not only positively impacted her life but also inspired and brought hope to those seeking a second chance in life.
Are you looking for a way to simultaneously share your faith and grow in your relationship with Christ? Consider signing up as a Crossroads mentor!