Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hearts Strangely Warmed: Marsha Banks

“While the leader was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
— John Wesley, May 24, 1738


God calls us to tell our story so that others may come to know Jesus Christ. 

Marsha Banks

Life as I know it was a little difficult, but I am confident that God has always had a plan for my life. I was raised by my grandmother in the beginning years of my life when both my parents were struggling with an addiction. I met my father when I was five years of age and my mother when I was about ten years of age. Both of them lived very different lifestyles. By the age of eleven I was an emotional mess. I witnessed my father’s domestic abuse, and while under the care of my mother, I experienced rape and incest. Without proper counseling and support I became very rebellious, and by the age of eighteen I was a teenage mother with two children and an abusive boyfriend who introduced me to drugs.

For the next ten years my life spiraled out of control. My addiction caused a lot of damage. My children and I were homeless and spent many nights without food. I tried many times to get away from the man and the drugs by entering into rehab and safe houses, but nothing seemed to work.

On a cold January morning a neighbor cared enough about me to call the police when she saw me leave the kids home alone. It was that night that I truly believe I was rescued. The police ordered me to surrender my children and turn myself in. I spent my final night at home packing and praying. This was it! Not quite how I expected things to end, but what [was] necessary for God to get my attention.

On the morning of January 26, 1994, I placed my children in the care of Children and Youth [Services] and turned myself in. I was very afraid of what was ahead, but I was tired and I was relieved. During my processing exam I received some shocking news. I was pregnant with my seventh child. Five months later I experienced something that no mother should ever have to encounter: I gave birth to my son handcuffed to my hospital bed. This emotional experience is something that I keep fresh in my mind. I am truly grateful to God for having a healthy baby boy.

I served two years in state prison, and during that time I sought out the treatment that I needed to sustain my recovery. I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and treated. I attended church and re-dedicated my life to Christ. Volunteers from the local churches came in to teach Bible class and gave us lessons to complete. I wanted to know more. I studied every day and I made a promise to God that I would never let Him down again. When it came time to get out, I could not get a home plan approved. After three failed home plans, an opportunity was presented for me to be released to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I knew no one, but was excited about the possibility of me starting my life all over again.

[When] I was released in 1996 I went straight to the local church and got connected. It was difficult for me to find a job so I volunteered at a local women’s shelter. After being home for a year, the courts granted me custody of the children. It was an awesome blessing and, I must admit, more than I thought I could handle — but I was grateful. During my tenure at the shelter I met a couple from Camp Hill United Methodist Church, Fred and Barbara Clark. Although they were not initially coming to visit me, they in fact were an answer to prayer. They invited me to their church.

I started attending Camp Hill UMC and later became a member. I must say, my initial reaction was that I didn’t think we would fit in, but I was wrong. I was amazed at the welcome my family received when we arrived. Members directed my children to their appropriate classes and I went on connecting with the women of the church and learning more about God. It’s amazing how the years have passed. I attribute my parenting skills and abilities to the men and women of the church. They are good examples for me to follow.

This year marked a milestone for me, I celebrated 50 years of life, which is truly a blessing from God! When I think about all that He has brought me through, I am forever grateful.

Today, I am a proud mother of eight children and eight grandchildren. I am a college graduate and the founder of a non-profit organization called Amiracle4sure Inc., which was established with the sole purpose of helping women, like me, who are looking to redefine their lives after incarceration. This is my pay-it-forward opportunity. I am thankful to God for entrusting me to share His love to those in need. For more information about Amiracle4sure, please visit our website, www.amiracle4sure.com.

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