— Stars and Angels —
The Epiphany meant so much to me. I never knew so many people could love me without ever asking for anything else. I’ve found God and forgiveness I never knew about and I am to grateful to know there’s people that I can finally lean on, a family that I never had. Thank you to all Epiphany people. – Brittney —
Epiphany opened up the gateway of the true freedom that Christ has offered to me and promised me, when He died so that I may live. I was reminded that I’m forgiven and that by Christ’s grace I can be a new person in my attitude, work and love. Hate no longer, co-exist with Christ love in me, love stands as majesty in my heart. – Camilia —
Epiphany meant true love to me. God’s true love. It taught me that I can be loved unconditionally without even earning it. I learned God’s grace and mercy that is new each and every day. I learned how to forgive and truly let God work on my heart. I truly learned love. – Kierra —
My experience as an angel was amazing to say the least. I enjoy the ministries that God has put within each volunteer. I love the fellowship and the wisdom. I learn something new each time I experience the walk that symbolizes and teaches on Agape ? God’s infinite condition(less) love! Thank God for His will! — Fairrin —
With this Epiphany weekend I have learned several things that I will always hold dear. The volunteers are amazing people who make me realize that there are good people who care. They care because of the love of Jesus. There is nothing like hugging an individual and being wrapped and sharing the love of Jesus. Being an Angel on the Epiphany walk #8, I have refocused on my forgiveness by reuniting with the volunteers and seeing how at peach they are because they forgive. This inspires me more to give all my anger and resentments to the Lord. You have no idea how much each experience has shaped me to become a more loving person and I am truly grateful for it. Special shout out to DCI Volunteers. God Bless — Sherry —
The Epiphany changed my life in so many ways. It was the happiest day of my life. Before I went through the Epiphany, I was in a very dark place in my life. I was hurt, sad, lonely and did not feel loved at all. I have been so hurt in my childhood, I did not know how to love and did not know what it felt like and I did not like a lot of people. I hurt people because that was what hurt people did. On my weekend, the forgiveness set me free. I let go of all the pain that once held my anger for a long time. Only by the goodness of God, I was saved, forgiven and I also forgave. I love the Lord, it’s just something about His name, it’s nothing better than Him. So, I’m here to tell you just give Him a try. He will make a way out of no-way. Just know when times get hard, you always have a friend in the Lord. I am nothing without Him. He died for me and also for you. I love you Lord. It’s nothing better, I have tried so many things. It’s nothing like the feeling I get when I call out the name of the Lord. — Toya —
— Volunteers —
My testimony about Epiphany is this: Being involved with Epiphany has shown me things about others and myself that I didn’t know before. I am blessed to have an open mind, a heart that truly hears the girls’ stories, and a God that allows both of these things to work in his favor of spreading the good word about Jesus! — Melissa —
Great place to serve. … — Ed —
As a weekly tutor and volunteer at CJCF I am blessed to actually have the opportunity to see the changes in attitudes and actions. Youth that have not experienced Epiphany notice these changes in their peers and are always asking how to become involved because they too have noticed the changes and want the same change for themselves. What a feeling.
— Kathy —
I volunteered with Epiphany thinking I would help the Stars grow closer to Jesus. That has happened, but I’ve also grown deeper and stronger in my own faith. I look forward to reconnecting with the Stars each month. — Mary —
I participated in Chrysalis many years ago and it absolutely changed my life. When I found out that there was an opportunity to do the same thing for youth who are incarcerated, I was shocked that there are incarcerated youth and thrilled to be able to be a volunteer. These are the people we are called to reach out to, and what better way to do it than by giving them the same experience I once had? When I do a weekend (and attend reunions), I am able to give them this same experience. On top of that, I am able to experience God’s love right along with them. Although each weekend has the same elements, I get a different experience each time. I learn different things, connect in different ways to the youth, and grow in my faith. It’s life changing. — Amanda —
Making a difference in the lives of female prison inmates
Tamara Jenkins is a frequent visitor at the Ohio Reformatory for Women and Dayton Correctional Institute – for all the right reasons. Two times a month and four weekends a year, she volunteers in prisons as part of the Epiphany Ministry, which works with incarcerated young men and women across the U.S.
Her weekend duties at the two correctional institutions, where she ministers to young women, are the most challenging part of her volunteer work, as well as the most gratifying.
“During the early hours of that first day, the girls are pretty close-mouthed. They don’t know what to expect. But they know they’ll have access to food, a lot of really good food,” she said.
With the help of music, skits and storytelling, the mood begins to change during the next several hours – an emotional time for the inmates, as well as the volunteers.
“By the end of that first day, the barriers are coming down and the tears start flowing. And there’s crying the rest of the weekend.”
It’s an amazing opportunity, Jenkins said, to reach out to these young people, most of whom come from broken homes and fractured relationships, who have been convicted of drug-related crimes.
She and her husband, Stu, began their prison mission work in 2011. “We fought the idea of volunteering in the prisons for several years because of work and time limitations. Now, we’re hooked,” she said.
Up to 40 volunteers minister to about two dozen prisoners during the weekend gatherings, which begin at 6 a.m. Friday and end at about 5 p.m. Sunday. Volunteers do not stay overnight in the prisons.
Each female inmate is called a “star” and volunteers are assigned to work with specific stars. There’s also the “table family,” which consists of five stars and three team members who sit together at the same table throughout the weekend for meals and other activities.
Assisting the adult volunteers, which is a mix of men and women, are prisoners who already have experienced a weekend event.
“We call them ‘angels’ and there usually are 10 to 15 of them who will help us during the weekends,” Jenkins said.
Working as a team, the volunteers and angels make good use of those three days – entertaining and ministering, and driving home the importance of faith, forgiveness, love and spirituality.
“When you first encounter the girls, it’s not surprising to see anger and distrust in their faces. But as volunteers and girls develop friendships, things change. You start to see calmness and you start to see a smile.”
She’s hopeful that the efforts being made by her, her husband and others are helping to make a difference in the lives of prisoners.