Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"
How Chrysalis Began
After four years in women’s ministry at the Minnehaha county jail, an undeniable truth has become quite evident: there is a segment of society that is caught up in a generational cycle of poverty, addiction, abuse, and neglect. I have heard their stories and witnessed their recurring releases and re-entrances firsthand. Many have become ‘institutionalized’ and are more comfortable inside than out of imprisonment – at great cost to society in more ways than one. The statistics are certainly there to support these observations. Yet the fact remains, there is a face behind every statistic.
I have witnessed these women’s tears and heard their prayers. I have seen the pain etched in their faces. It is the same pain they use drugs and alcohol to mask, and abusive relationships to try to seek some form of love and acceptance. It is a deep-seated, often trauma-induced pain that isn’t solved with government programs, 30-day treatments, or court-mandated counsel…let alone incarceration. It isn’t solved with food programs, charitable donations, or low-income housing. The solution will come with a renewing of the mind…both spiritually and physically. Scripture teaches that we can be transformed by the renewing of our mind, spiritually; now research is showing that we can be transformed by the rewiring of our mind, physically. Transformed…the old is gone, the new has come.
Just as a caterpillar is sheltered in a chrysalis as it is transformed into a butterfly, we desire to create homes that would shelter these women as they are transformed into a new creation. Thus, Chrysalis: providing them with a home in the true sense, with consistent love and care as well as chores and responsibility. Recreating, on some small scale, the security and affirmation they may not have received as a child. Providing equine-based ministry, trauma-informed counseling, and educational or career counsel as needed. Offering time for true healing…time for neural pathways to re-circuit…for old habits to become new, healthy behaviors…offering a new identity in Christ.
The costs of crime to society are great - both direct and indirect, tangible and intangible. There is a huge financial burden to taxpayers as we consider the costs of incarceration, foster care, loss of wages and productivity. And then there is the societal cost of victimization, insecurity, fear. The costs of a private home that provides in-house counseling and education for just a few women may seem great. The cost for society to go on failing to address this ever-growing cycle of poverty, addiction, abuse and neglect is far greater. We can tally the numbers for the actual costs. We can never measure the cost of the pain I witness week after week in the county jail. Children who have grown into adults, physically; yet fail to have the mental or spiritual maturity to carry the responsibility that society – and their choices – have placed on them. It is time we looked past the struggling and broken woman we see, to rescue the child within. Let’s put her in a safe place and give her new wings!