Mar 12, 2024 183 Belinda Honey

I’m not the Only One

Through the darkest valleys and toughest nights, Belinda heard a voice that kept calling her back.

My mother walked out on us when I was around eleven. At the time, I thought that she left because she didn’t want me. But in fact, after years of silently suffering through marital abuse, she couldn’t hold on anymore. As much as she wanted to save us, my father had threatened to kill her if she took us with her. It was too much to take in at such a young age, and as I was striving hard to navigate through this difficult time, my father started a cycle of abuse that would haunt me for years to come.

Valleys and Hills

To numb the pain of my father’s abuse and compensate for the loneliness of my mother’s abandonment, I started resorting to all kinds of ‘relief’ mechanisms. And at a point when I couldn’t stand the abuse anymore, I ran away with Charles, my boyfriend from school. I reconnected with my mother during this time and lived with her and her new husband for a while.

At 17, I married Charles. His family had a history of incarceration, and he followed suit soon enough. I kept hanging out with the same bunch of people, and eventually, I, too, fell into crime. At 19, I got sentenced to prison for the first time—five years for aggravated assault.

In prison, I felt more alone than I had ever been in my life. Everyone who was supposed to love and nurture me had abandoned me, used me, and abused me. I remember giving up, even trying to end my life. For a long time, I kept on spiraling downwards until I met Sharon and Joyce. They had given their lives to the Lord. Though I had no clue about Jesus, I thought I’d give it a try as I didn’t have anything else. There, trapped inside those walls, I started a new life with Christ.

Falling, Rising, Learning…

About a year and a half into my sentence, I came up for parole. Somehow in my heart, I just knew I was going to make parole because I’d been living for Jesus. I felt like I was doing all the right things, so when the denial came back with a year set off, I just didn’t understand. I started questioning God and was quite angry.

It was at this time that I was transferred to another correctional facility. At the end of the church services, when the chaplain reached out for a handshake, I flinched and withdrew. He was a Spirit-filled man, and the Holy Spirit had shown him that I had been hurt. The next morning, he asked to see me. There in his office, as he asked about what had happened to me and how I was hurting, I opened up and shared for the first time in my life.

Finally, out of prison and in private rehab, I started a job and was slowly getting a hold on my new life when I met Steven. I started going out with him, and we got pregnant. I remember being excited about it. As he wanted to make it right, we got married and started a family. That marked the beginning of probably the worst 17 years of my life, marked by his physical abuse and infidelity and the continuing influence of drugs and crime.

He would even go on to hurt our kids, and this once sent me into a rage—I wanted to shoot him. At that moment, I heard these verses: “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” (Romans 12:19) and “The Lord will fight for you” (Exodus 14:14), and that prompted me to let him go.

Never a Criminal

I was never able to be a criminal for long; God would just arrest me and try to get me back on track. In spite of His repeated efforts, I wasn’t living for Him. I always kept God back, although I knew He was there. After a series of arrests and releases, I finally came home for good in 1996. I got back in touch with the Church and finally started building a true and sincere relationship with Jesus. The Church slowly became my life; I never really had that kind of a relationship with Jesus before.

I just couldn’t get enough of it because I started to see that it’s not the things that I’ve done but who I am in Christ that’s going to keep me on this road. But, the real conversion happened with Bridges to Life*.

How can I Not?

Even though I hadn’t been a participant in the program as an offender, being able to facilitate in those small groups was a blessing I hadn’t anticipated—one that would change my life in beautiful ways. When I heard other women and men share their stories, something clicked inside of me. It affirmed me that I was not the only one and encouraged me to show up time and again. I would be so tired and worn out from work, but I would walk into the prisons and just be rejuvenated because I knew that that was where I was supposed to be.

Bridges to Life is about learning to forgive yourself; not only did helping others help me become whole, it also helped me heal…and I am still healing.

First, it was my mother. She had cancer, and I brought her home; I looked after her for as long as she stayed until she passed away peacefully at my home. In 2005, my father’s cancer came back, and the doctors estimated he had at most six months. I brought him home too. Everybody told me not to take in this man after what he did to me. I asked: “how can I not?” Jesus forgave me, and I feel that God would want me to do this.

Had I chosen to hold on to the bitterness or hatred toward my parents for the abandonment and the abuse, I don’t know if they would have given their lives to the Lord. Just looking back over my life, I see how Jesus kept pursuing me and trying to help me. I was so resistant to feeling what was new, and it was so easy to stay in what was comfortable, but I am grateful to Jesus that I was able to finally completely surrender to Him. He is my Savior, He is my rock, and He is my friend. I just cannot imagine a life without Jesus.


Belinda Honey

Belinda Honey serves as the Regional Coordinator for Bridges to Life in Waco, Texas. Article is based on the interview given by Belinda on the Shalom World program “Jesus My Savior.” To watch the episode, visit: shalomworld.org/episode/from-prison-to-ministry-belinda-honey

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