Eastern Wake News

Prison ministry focuses on women’s success

Sherri Barham, center, prays with women from the North Carolina Correctional Institute at the Dew4Him Ministries’ “Live, Love” Prison Retreat in Jan. 2014.
Sherri Barham, center, prays with women from the North Carolina Correctional Institute at the Dew4Him Ministries’ “Live, Love” Prison Retreat in Jan. 2014. Courtesy Dew4Him

Dew4Him ministries enters the doors of the North Carolina Correctional Institute for Women the first Friday of each month with the philosophy most 9-5 workers have – TGIF.

But for the ministry, the phrase doesn’t stand for Thank God It’s Friday. It represents Today God Is First, something that the ministry aims to communicate to inmates at the prison.

More than 1,000 women at the prison have interacted with Jane Wolfe and Dew4Him ministries at some point in the past seven years.

The Zebulon-based ministry focuses on helping women both inside and outside of prison “know God, be strong and take action,” according to Wolfe, Dew4Him’s executive director. Opportunities from Jobs for Life to Bible studies to finance training assist women both practically and spiritually, she said.

“It can be anybody. Women often have a significant barrier – incarceration, debt, brokenness, death, divorce,” Wolfe said. “It’s either their bad choice or something happened to them. Our heart is to help these women heal and flourish.”

Although the ministry started 10 years ago, the 20-25 volunteers who represent more than 15 different churches across counties and denominations, have only been working in the prison for the past seven years. The TGIF classes, which run for almost two hours on Friday afternoons attract more than 150 active participants each year. They memorize verses from the Bible and learn to study passages on their own, discussing them in small conversational groups.

After the study, they will gather for some worship songs and a sermon by Wolfe.

“We teach girls how to study the Bible for themselves,” Wolfe said. “We’re teaching them how to make it relevant to themselves...We’ve had girls repeat the lecture to the staff. We are seeing their conduct and character change.”

The organization is also developing a re-entry mentoring program for women leaving prison, according to their website.

On Feb. 6, Dew4Him will host their annual day-long retreat, which includes about 250 inmates, most outside of the Bible study group, who sign up to attend. This year’s theme is “SOAR” which will incorporate both the idea of rising above challenges and “cutting away the sandbags,” said Wolfe, like a kite.

Retreat coordinators carefully plan to serve the women’s favorite snacks, like Krispy Kreme donuts. In the past, church groups have served fresh BBQ plates.

“We don’t care why they come, we just want them to come,” Wolfe said. “Great food gets them in the door.”

The organization will host a fundraising lunch to assist with the year-round costs for the prison ministry, including the retreat, on Jan. 30 at Wakefield Central Baptist Church. Each plate costs $8 and will have potatoes, green beans, half of a BBQ chicken, a roll and dessert. Meals can be picked up or enjoyed at the church and will be delivered for free to businesses or groups that order 10 or more plates.

Interested parties should contact Tracey Horton at 919-868-5932 or tracey@dew4him.org. Those interested in volunteering with the ministry should call the same number or visit www.dew4him.org.

“We are diverse in faith backgrounds, race, age, our socio-economic background,” Wolfe said. “We go in and that’s washed under the bridge. We are loving the girls and teaching them truth.”