Laura’s youth was marked by addiction to drugs, men, and wild living. Her addictions were so strong that she became blind to the ways her choices were affecting herself and others. “Those addictions cut me off from reality,” Laura said. “I destroyed my life—and not only my life, but I left my children.”

As she sank deeper and deeper into addiction, she felt emptier and emptier. She became so depressed that she was ready to end her life. Then she got arrested.

Laura was taken to El Buen Pastor (The Good Shepherd), a women’s prison in Bogota, Colombia. During her first few days inside the prison, she battled withdrawal. Once she recovered, she found herself reflecting on her bad decisions. She felt ashamed, confused, and desperate. She cried often.

Still, Laura couldn’t shake the feeling that she had a greater purpose in life. When a mentor from Crossroads Colombia visited the prison and invited Laura to join the program, she was intrigued and decided to enroll.

After receiving her first Crossroads Bible study lesson, Laura struggled to complete it. “I didn’t really know very well how to answer the questions or figure out what it was about,” she said.

But her mentor wouldn’t let her give up. “The mentor they assigned to me always motivated me, encouraged me, and helped me to continue,” Laura said.

With her mentor’s compassionate guidance and the empowering of the Holy Spirit, Laura began to understand what she was reading. “With every lesson, I felt that it was God who was speaking,” she said. “I felt that my life was changing. I wasn’t the same person anymore. I wasn’t the same woman with resentment, grudges, and blame.”

Her addictions were gone. Her anxiety was gone. Her self-condemnation was gone.

“I didn’t feel like I was in prison, even though my flesh was behind bars,” Laura said, describing the freedom she found in Christ.

Although she felt freedom in her spirit, Laura still had to deal with the cold realities of prison: loneli­ness, arguments, frustration, fear.

But she could count on two people to keep her spirits up despite her circumstances: her Crossroads mentor and God. “The letters of encouragement that my mentor left me were a great companion. In those moments of anguish, I felt very grateful to Crossroads,” said Laura. “God was always there, and He was the one who helped me and gave me strength for the struggle.”

Now that she has returned home from prison, Laura continues to stay connected to Crossroads Colombia. “When I got out, Crossroads always fol­lowed me, supporting me, accepting me,” she said. “I am very grateful because if I have needed some­thing, Crossroads has been there. If I need advice, there it is. If I need a word of encouragement, there they are. They never abandon me.”