Grace (seated in the middle) began mentoring with her late husband in 1997. Today, fourteen of her family members serve as Crossroads mentors alongside her, including all six of her children, two daughters-in-law, and six grandchildren. Back row: Jim (grandson), Bert (son), Mike (grandson), Bob (son), Judy (daughter), Lori (daughter-in-law). Second row: Dan (grandson), Jadyn (granddaughter), Ruth (daughter), Judy (daughter-in-law), Brenda (daughter), Mary (daughter). Front row: Deanne (granddaughter), Grace, Rebecca (granddaughter).

Longtime mentor inspires children and grandchildren

Grace and her late husband, Henry, started mentoring students together in 1997, and their example of faithful service to people behind bars made an impression on their children. Today, fourteen of their offspring are mentors. All six of their children, two daughters-in-law, and six grandchildren embraced the call to shine hope, light, and love into the lives of people in prison.

Mary was the first of Grace’s children to take on mentoring through Crossroads in 2000.

“I started [mentoring] when I was a young mom,” she said. “I had four kids under the age of four. I wanted to serve God and share the Gospel with people, but it was hard for me to make time to do that outside of my home. . . . When I correct the Bible lessons and write an encouraging letter to the prisoner, it causes me to dig into the Bible, and I grow and learn in the process. It’s a win-win! . . . I have been a mentor for over twenty-three years, and I love that God uses me—a sinner saved by grace—to share Jesus’ love with those behind bars.”

After Mary shared Crossroads at church, her sister Judy and sister-in-law Lori decided to become mentors themselves.

“The Holy Spirit touched my heart that morning,” Lori said. “I remember coming home and my husband saying to me, ‘You’re going to do that, aren’t you?’ How could I not when Jesus tells us when we visit those in prison, we are doing it for Him (Matthew 25)?”

Judy said, “I thank God for this opportunity to lift the name of Jesus, our Savior, to those who are suffering and to write to them about the hope and peace we have when we know Him and trust Him as our Savior. We can have this even now in this life no matter what our circumstances.”

For years, Grace’s daughter Ruth turned down her family’s invitations to become a mentor, saying she didn’t have time. But God spoke to her through a jury summons.

“[I] was chosen to serve on the jury for a murder trial in the city of Chicago,” Ruth said. “As a jury member, I participated in the conviction of a young person for murder and the possibility of him spending the rest of his life in prison. This experience really laid on my heart the need to minister to people who are in prison and need hope in their lives.”

Over the last several years, Grace’s grandchildren have also answered God’s call to care for those in prison.

“When each of my children turned eighteen and were planning to go off to college, I asked them how they planned to continue to serve the Lord,” Mary said. “I suggested that they try being Crossroads mentors. The Holy Spirit led each of them to try it. What a blessing!”

“Being a Crossroads mentor is a challenging responsibility and wonderful privilege,” said Mary’s son Dan, who became a mentor in 2020. “I love the ability to study God’s Word with so many others in different places. Crossroads has given me a deeper appreciation for the grace and mercy of God to His people despite our great sin. I praise God for His transformative work in students and mentors every day!”


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