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I was standing in the chapel at my local correctional center, panicking quietly. As I was holding hands with the two inmates next to me, it occurred to me that I wasn’t wearing my wedding ring. I always wear it.

I glanced down at my left hand. No ring.

Have you ever messed up or failed at something? Does it make you want to give up and walk away or can you trust God to bring something good out of it? Hopefully my story will encourage you. Let me continue...

I looked at the woman inmate next to me. Her eyes were closed as the volunteer leading the women’s ministry time ended the session in prayer. I swallowed and glanced around the circle of women who had their eyes closed and head bowed.

They were all dressed in navy blue sweat shirts, blue jeans and bright orange crocks on their feet. That’s where the similarity ended. They were at different ages and stages of life. One or two were in their late teens or early twenties. Many of them were middle-aged and a good number of them were easily in their fifties or sixties. Some had tattoos, others didn’t. Some looked scared while others looked like it was their second home.

I, however, was beginning to panic. This was only my second time at WOW.

WOW is the acronym for Women of Worth, a weekly program in the correctional facility that had Christian women from the community volunteering their Friday afternoons to share Jesus with the women inmates. I was one of those volunteers.

I’d felt God leading me to come. I had just researched, written and directed a big two-act play for a local church, based on the story of prison reformer, Elizabeth Fry?

Now the Lord wanted me to take what I’d learned and join WOW.

Yikes! Seriously, what did I know about prisons, crime, thieves and addictions? Nothing. Nada. But I couldn’t shake God’s persistent nudging’s.

So, there I was, in jail, wondering if one of them had slipped my ring off while I wasn’t paying attention. After all, my ring has always been very loose on my finger. It could have happened, at least that’s what kept going through my mind. I panicked, again.

Our time was coming to an end and if I didn’t say something to the volunteer in charge, I may never see my ring again. I quickly took her aside before we dismissed the women to their unit. She stared at me, completely shocked. Nothing like this had happened before. She didn’t know what to do.

Neither did I. All I could think was, “I had made a big, HUGE mistake!” I was never supposed to come to WOW. I’d misunderstood God’s nudging’s.

Next thing I knew the chaplain of the correctional center was asking me questions. I quickly phoned home to see if I’d left my ring there. My daughter searched my bathroom. Nothing. So, security locked the women’s ward down. The chapel was searched and so were each of the women – thoroughly!

Now I was certain that I never should have gone to WOW.

The chaplain gathered the three volunteers together and we prayed, “Father, we want your will to be done here. Please turn this situation to the good because we love you and we know that many of these women love you, too. Amen.” However, no ring was found.

I went home. Searched my bathroom. Still no ring.

Well, that was the end of that. There was no way I was going back there. Ever! Then a few days later, I was sitting watching tv with my hubby when my daughter said, “Look what I found.” And then she handed me my wedding ring.


She’d found it in a pile of her clothes; clothes she’d had in my bathroom a few days earlier. She’d set them on the counter and my ring must have been underneath. When she scooped up her clothes my ring went with them.

Seriously? Then, I groaned.

I realized I had falsely accused the women at the jail of taking my ring. I had been so quick to judge them based on my preconceived ideas of who I thought they were. I had unwittingly jumped into the enemy’s trap of false accusation. I was mortified. Well, so much for jail ministry!

Then I was reminded of the chaplain’s prayer.

How could the Lord possibly turn this situation to the good? Then the Holy Spirit spoke very clearly, “Ask them to forgive you.” So, I swallowed my pride, and with my wedding ring on my finger, I went back to WOW for the third time.

I seriously thought that because of me, no one would want to come back to a program that is completely voluntary to attend. They don’t get any credits or extra merits for coming to a ‘religious’ activity. The women who come do it because they want to learn about Jesus.

Yet, look what one of those ‘Christians’ had done to them.

As we set the chairs up in the chapel, we could hear the women making their way down the corridor. I nervously fidgeted with my wedding ring. This was not going to be easy, but then I actually heard laughter. Somehow, that made it better.

As the seventeen women settled in their seats, I held up my left hand with my ring on it. They all got quiet. I explained where it had been hiding.

Some joked about it. Others frowned, while others said they were relieved I had found it. I couldn’t believe their attitude. I’d prayed on the way to WOW, asking the Lord, once again, to turn this situation for His good purposes, and to show me what He wanted me to do.

The chairs were set up in a horseshoe shape, so I looked the first woman in the eyes and asked her to forgive me for accusing her of taking my ring. She looked away. So, I said to her, “Will you please forgive me?” She was a middle-aged, First Nations’ lady and I can only imagine that she’d never had a white woman ask her for forgiveness before. She looked back at me and nodded, blinking away a tear.

I looked at the second woman. She was white, had grey hair and a weathered face from spending years on the streets in addiction. I asked her if she would forgive me for accusing her of stealing my ring. She nodded and smiled shyly.

The third was a younger woman with cropped hair and arms crossed against her chest. When I asked her to forgive me she looked at me long and hard. I knew she was gauging my sincerity. I kept looking at her, praying that I reflected Christ, somehow. Her look softened and she nodded. I thanked her.

I continued my way through the dozen women who remained in that chapel room.

There was not a dry eye when I was done, including myself and the other volunteers. With that out of the way, we spent time worshipping the Lord, together. Needless to say, there was a sweet presence of God in the prison chapel that Friday afternoon.

I found out, later, that some of the women who regularly attended WOW, and whose hearts had been changed by the Lord, encouraged the other women to forgive me - the ‘newbie’. Amazingly, the Lord had already been at work preparing their hearts, and He used the other women inmates to do it!

Isn’t God good?

I’m so thankful the Lord turned that awful and embarrassing situation, which the enemy was trying to use to frustrate the purposes of God, and He turned it into something that was good and glorified Him. I ended up going back to WOW, again and again.

In fact, I’ve volunteered there for seventeen years. I even turned that big two-act play about prison reformer, Elizabeth Fry, into a one-person drama that I’ve performed countless times for many ‘Women of Worth’ who have come and gone through the years.

We all fail, at some point, especially when we try to help others. Messing up and failing is part of life. If we don't let them crush us, embrace God's forgiveness, and the forgiveness of those we may have failed, they can become an opportunity for God to express His goodness.

Pray and ask Him.

“Though a righteous man falls seven times, he gets up.” Proverbs 24:16

Don’t let failure and mess-ups stop you from doing what God has asked you to do!

Deanna Storfie

Owner, Writer, Performer

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