But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.   
       
 

The Cleft in the Rock,
The House the Mercy Built

I was preparing for a Missions Conference at First Baptist Church in Merchantville, the home church of Nancy Palais and her daughter Sandy, as well as Chris’ church, Chris being one of the men in my groups at Southern. Accompanying me would be Matt Roncone, his mother Betty, the Guiddy’s, Rich and Maria, and Andrea Castellane.

The year was 2006, Matt and Rich had just recently been released from Southern and I was truly looking forward to seeing and hearing how they would handle themselves in the church setting. They are both very dear to me and I look for God to do good things in their lives for the future. Matt and Rich could share what God had done and was doing in their lives and the girls could share the hardships and heartaches they endured while the men did their time.

As it turned out they all did very well, were warmly received and really had an enjoyable time, Friday and Saturday evening. The pastor took me aside Saturday evening, told me his speaker for Sunday morning had backed out and would I be able to fill in? I agreed.

As I parked my car at home, I glanced at the cottage next to where I parked…abandoned, shabby, and now owned by the camp. Throughout the night I continued to think about the cottage and the possibilities, especially considering the location, directly across from the pool, and caddy-corner from my house . Fixed up, it would be great for group teaching, counseling, picnicking, and even use as a guest cottage for my grandkids and Wings people from North Jersey.

I remembered the camp had offered camp-owned cottages for $100.00 to members that would fix them up in a timely manner, wondering if I could do that???? I ran it past Paul Pedrick, my dear friend and camp president. He didn’t have a problem with it, in fact thought it a good idea as long as I would be willing to promise not to house newly released men. This was not a problem for me since I knew I was no longer capable of investing myself in the intense aftercare needed when a man first comes out of prison. I also knew the Lord had brought me to Malaga to keep me mindful of my limitations and age. I can do bits and pieces of aftercare with men I already know from inside, having a ready-built relationship to build on.

The next day I went back to the church for the morning service and as I was finishing the message, I asked the congregation to pray about the “house” explaining to them what I had in mind. As I was greeting people, a few encouraged me to move forward, thinking it a great idea. One couple put a check in my hand for $100.00, telling me this was my money to buy the cottage! A heart’s desire realized? This was something I always wanted to do, be available to support men and their families transition from in-prison to out. Quite possibly this was the answer.

Coincidentally (?) I had just heard from one of the Wings men from years ago, 20 to be accurate, who wanted to get back with the Lord, looked me up on the internet and called. He just happened to be a contractor all of his adult life, could build just about anything. I decided to talk to him about the possibilities and probabilities…could it indeed be done.

We talked it over and agreed it could be done, especially if God was in it. There were a few other things that happened that confirmed to me that I should proceed. After polling my Board of Directors and getting their approval and encouragement, I proposed it to the Board of Directors at Malaga at their next meeting. It was approved for me to purchase the house for the $100.00 with the agreement to make improvements in a timely way and we were on our way.

 
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