Renea Cox, a CWJC graduate, spoke at our annual fundraising event, Baskets of Hope, in October 2010

Renea’s testimony below was written shortly after her graduation from CWJC

When I came to CWJC, I was a struggling Christian, six months out of prison, and lost. Without CWJC I would not be where I am today, in my spiritual growth or otherwise.

I became a Christian on my knees on a concrete floor in a county jail in Colorado. By God’s grace, I was given the privilege to come home, see that my family was able to be mended, and get baptized the week before I was sentenced to 4 years in prison.

Jesus walked in that prison with me, and He walked out with me. I had the prayers of my family and church and God’s protection the year and 5 months I spent there.

So there I was 48 years old, a convicted felon, trying to do everything right – for my God, my family, me, and parole.

I was actually proud of myself at the time. I had paid my debt, cleared away the wreckage of my past and most of all had kept Christ in my heart. I felt I had won the race.

Then the reality of life sat in. I had to have a job as a stipulation of my parole. People in hiring positions didn’t see things as I did. What I felt they saw was a 48 year old felon, offender 125125. I didn’t have a resume; and after 3 years of drug abuse, I also had no references. The only job I could find was cleaning motel rooms for $5.25 an hour.

Then, to top that off, I had to prove to my 3 grown children they could trust me again. I also had a marriage of 29 years with a husband addicted to pain medication from a 20 foot fall he had while I was away that needed God’s mending. To say the least, I was overwhelmed.

I was very thankful for my job, my family and all God had blessed me with. But after about 3 months of cleaning motel rooms I started thinking, “Do I want to do this for 5 years, the length of my parole?” The answer was – No. I never got to go to church. I was still praying every day and reading my Bible, but I was going no where fast; and my spiritual growth was non-existent.

So I quit my job and started putting in applications anywhere I could. If I got an interview, that was as far as I got. After about 6 weeks of this, I started giving up. I stayed in my apartment and was slacking at church attendance. All this time I was dealing with my husband, his mood swings and addiction. Not wanting to be there, it wasn’t long before I realized it was easier for me to keep my in joy in prison than out in the world. I was falling fast, and I was scared.

Early one morning, my daughter-in-law called about a segment she and my son had seen on TV about a Christian women’s school that was free. She didn’t catch the phone number so I called the station. They gave me the information, and I made the call.

Besides asking Christ to come into my heart, that was the best decision I have ever made for myself and my family.

The Bible study at CWJC was such a blessing. It made me see I needed and wanted more for myself spiritually. Through it I learned about forgiveness. Today I can talk about my past freely. I know my purpose, and that is to share and help others with my story. Through CWJC, I get the privilege of doing just that. I also know now that if I’m taking care of my spiritual growth, the other aspects of my life fall into place.

The computer course helped me improve my computer skills. I am confident with a computer and am not afraid to try new and different programs.

The other courses gave me a confidence I have never known. I am now able to set limits for myself and other people in my life from the Boundaries class. I have a professional looking resume, and I have credible references.

Through CWJC I have also had the benefit to get to meet people and go places in the Waco community I would have once thought impossible.

Since graduating CWJC, I now have my own cleaning business. I’m still cleaning but for a lot more money in less time, and business is great. I make my own advertising flyers and business cards. I keep up with clients and dates using my computer skills. I have employed a CWJC graduate and hope to hire more.

CWJC has also had a domino effect on my family. But, in my mind, the dominoes stand up instead of falling down.

In my children’s eyes and actions I can see forgiveness, trust, and love. I am MOM again and better than ever. My sons come to me with questions about God and life in general. We have wonderful conversations. My daughter recently had major surgery and requested I e in the recovery room. I had the privilege to lead her husband, her, her Dad and me in prayer before her surgery. Her surgery was long but successful. I am my 8 year old grandson’s Sunday School teacher, and we learn Bible verses together. He is my best bud.

I have just finished a Bible study in which I learned about the blessings of generations, and it is alive and evident in my family.

My husband is proud of me and is striving to do better. He is in rehab as I speak. Living with him and his addiction this past year and a half has not been easy. I had God on my side protecting me and keeping me going. I also had the beautiful women from CWJC to encourage me, to listen to me, to comfort me, to pray for me, and to love me. All that time I knew I had a safety net. All I had to do was ask them to help me, and I knew they would be there. That knowledge was all I needed.

God has answered every prayer I have ever prayed, and then some. My husband going to rehab is an answered prayer. Now when he gets home with a clear mind, we can finally pray and grow together.

I still have goals I haven’t met. But I know it’s in God’s time, not mine. I want to have a prison ministry — to be allowed back into county jails and state prisons to tell my story, to tell the women there of Christ, of CWJC, and of a brighter future.

I would also like for my business to continue to grow so that I can give women like me a chance at a job with a Christian influence.

I now have faith, hope, dreams, and a bright future. My negative thoughts about myself are gone. Because of God and CWJC, I have joy to spare and joy to share.