The following letter was recently received by Chaplain Claudette Rodney (currently serving as GraceInside’s Chaplain at Beaumont Correctional Center in Powhatan, VA and as our Central Region Supervising Chaplain). At one time Dr. Rodney served as Chaplain for Brunswick Women’s Work Center and for Deerfield Women’s Work Center. It was during that timeframe that she met and ministered to the (now former) female inmate. This woman wrote to Chaplain Rodney to update her on her life and her progress. We hope that you will find this woman’s story to be as uplifting and inspiring as Chaplain Rodney and all of us at GraceInside did!
Dear Chaplain Rodney,
I hope you remember me. I was an inmate worship leader that worked with you in 2015-2016 at
Brunswick Women’s Work Center and at Deerfield Work Center for Women. Chaplain Rodney, your
ministry meant so much to me, and you are forever in my heart and in my spirit!
PRIDE, FORGIVENESS and SURRENDER were the three major areas that God dealt with me on during
that period of time when you served as my Chaplain. I am sure that you have met and ministered to so
many inmates over the years that you could probably tell hundreds of stories about lives that were saved
and transformed by God’s grace through your ministry. But I just wanted to remind you of my story and
of what the Lord did for me. I’m a little embarrassed to recount this first part, but here goes.
My big “moment of clarity” came when I was told that I had been assigned to a work release job at a
BOJANGLES restaurant. If you will remember, I was absolutely OUTRAGED because I thought that I was
WAY too GOOD for that and that such a job was way BENEATH me. Now, there I was sitting in PRISON,
and yet this job was WAY beneath me!!! (The OLD me, thank God!) Well, one thing you taught me was
to go to God’s Word when I was discouraged, disappointed or angry. So one night I just cracked open my
Bible, and my eyes landed on a passage in the Gospel of John. It was all about how Peter would die vs.
how John would die. Now, keep in mind that I had absolutely no concept about the context or
background of this verse or about what the passage was really about. But somehow (as He so often
does), the Holy Spirit spoke to me through that passage and through those verses. He was telling me
that I had to surrender my pride and “die” to it, as it was the thing that was holding me back from a
whole new chapter in my life. I was still pretty puzzled, but I took it to mean that I should be grateful
and that I should go ahead and take this job at BOJANGLES. So that’s just what I did.
Now here’s where the story gets GOOD! Are you READY for this, Chaplain Rodney??? Here it comes…
Well, here it is 2022. The world has been through this awful pandemic, and now there are “wars and
rumors of wars” (as Jesus said there would be). But I am a FREE WOMAN!!! I am no longer sitting in a
cell or behind prison bars. I am now a “productive citizen” (as the corrections folks used to call it). Yes, I
am STILL working for BOJANGLES. But get this: I am now the DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS for an entire
Bojangles FRANCHISE!!! In other words, in my area of the state/country, I RUN THE COMPANY!!!!! Can
you even BELIEVE that???
Chaplain Rodney, I am known to joke around a lot. You probably remember that about me. But I am
absolutely SERIOUS when I say this: If you don’t find God in one of my restaurants, then I don’t know
WHERE you can!!! My employees and I talk about the Lord, share our joys and sorrows with one
another, pray for each other, etc. Don’t get me wrong. We’re not there to beat anybody over the head
with a Bible or to “force religion” on anyone. But you can absolutely feel the LOVE we have for both our
staff and for our customers. Folks often remark to me about there being something “special” about
coming to our restaurants. It always brings a smile to my face and joy to my heart (because I know that
the “secret spice” is JESUS!). Oh, they love the chicken, dirty rice, biscuits and sweet tea. They just don’t
know they getting a little something “extra” with their meal: the love and grace of Jesus!!!
I am NOT writing to BRAG, but simply to testify about how God can change things – how HE can
completely turn things around!!! And Chaplain Rodney, I just want you to know how much your love
and devotion to your calling impacted me and changed my life!
I also have a PRAYER REQUEST: There is an Associate Pastor that also works for our company, and I have
the pleasure of working with him from time to time. One time he told me that if any of my employees
were going through a rough time or were really struggling over something, to please feel free to refer
them to him for pastoral care/counseling if they’re interested. Well, recently a young lady that works
for me was having some major problems and really struggling in her life. God led me to have a “divine
conversation” with her, and as a result she went to see my Associate Pastor friend for come counseling,
and God completely turned her life around. Now she is a faithful member of my friend’s church! So
Chaplain Rodney, I am asking you to PRAY that God would continue to use me and Pastor Karl (and the
ministry team at his church) to continue “moving mountains” in the lives of our employees. Just as your
love and compassion changed MY life, Chaplain, I hope that Pastor Karl and I can help change the lives of
our staff through that same kind of love and compassion.
Thanks for letting me share, Chaplain Rodney. Isn’t it funny how chicken and biscuits (sometimes along
with eating a little “humble pie”) can change lives and turn things around. Ha! Ha! I am praying for you.
Keep on doing the great work you’re doing in the prisons!!!
Love in Christ Jesus,
Friends, Jackie is a living, breathing example and demonstration of GraceInside’s 2022 Easter Campaign
theme: “REBIRTH – A Living Hope!” Just see what the love, devotion, time, hard work and ministry of a
PRISON CHAPLAIN can do!!! YOU can help us change hearts and lives by God’s amazing grace in Christ.
We simply need MORE CHAPLAINS and MORE CHAPLAIN MINISTRY HOURS. Would you prayerfully
consider a special Easter Offering to the ministry of GraceInside? Precious individuals like Jackie are
counting on us – and counting on YOU!