As I spoke with incarcerated women, I found that it was common for them to have grown up attending church. Most often I heard that they attended with their grandmothers and it was a fond memory. Over the years, they associated having a relationship with Jesus as a result of being “good.” As their lives took a downward spiral into sin and crime, they concluded they could no longer have a relationship with God because they were no longer “good.”
As these women were taught truth about the human sinful condition, trusting Jesus for our salvation, and continuing to take our sinful natures before God, they had renewed hope that they were not cursed because of their choices. With renewed hope, they had incentive to work on their spiritual lives.
One woman I worked with wept when she understood that she could find forgiveness for her sin through Jesus Christ. As a result, she realized how many people she had hurt in her life and took on the task for communicating with each one she could remember to ask for their forgiveness. She when she received gracious, warm letters from several people, with promises of forgiveness it changed her whole countenance.