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Lawrence County native works with inmates to spread the gospel in Kentucky
RUSH, Kentucky - When one thinks of being in jail, God isn't usually the first thing that comes to mind but in a small town in Kentucky, one local group is making sure God's Word is heard through the cell walls.

Erin (Raggo) Brewer, a native of Lawrenceville, who currently resides in Rush, Kentucky, is part of a group of volunteers who have chosen to visit the local jail to spread the word of Jesus Christ.

The group is called the Bridges of Hope WOW ministry which is made up of eight different women from various churches. The ladies visit the Boyd County Detention Center in Ashland, Kentucky, in hopes of teaching the Bible to women who are currently incarcerated. There is no specific domination of religion that is taught. According to Brewer the group teaches "from the Bible." If its not in the Bible, its not being taught. The current area of study is entitled, "God Uses Messy People" but to the ladies in the facility, they simply refer to it as "church."

The ministry visits the inmates in their cells where the doors are slammed and locked behind them for the duration of the visit. Last month, the WOW ministry worked with 104 ladies at the facility. The visits are strictly voluntary and there is no other benefit from going through the program.

"The ministry is not mandatory and they don't earn 'good time' for attending," said Brewer. "The ladies attend because they want to hear about the gospel. They want things to be different."

Brewer has had past experience when it comes to jail, but not in the way she currently serves. Brewer spent time incarcerated in 2010 for drugs and driving under the influence.

"I was on drugs and in jail," said Brewer. "It was one of the most hopeless places I've ever been."

The ministry means a lot to Brewer who is simply trying to make a difference in the lives of others and bring hope to these women in their darkest hour. The goal, when she enters the jail, is to help the women to understand that the gospel belongs to them, they are worthy and that they matter. Brewer says this is one of the biggest struggles when being in jail.

"People are guilty of judging when you hear someone is in jail," said Brewer. "There are good people in our jails as well as our churches but sometimes good people make bad choices. The gospel teaches us to treat everyone equal, it doesn't matter who you are or what you've done, God's Promise is for all of us and these women deserve the hope of the Lord."

Brewer credits her neighbor and landlord of 11 years in introducing her to the life of the church.

"We lived in that house for 11 years, they should have thrown us out but they were faithful and kind and just kept inviting us to church," said Brewer. "One month I was behind on rent and decided to attend church service as a way to reach out; the church was in a revival and I went to one service and wanted to go back."

Brewer had no drivers license at the time and needed a photo identification card for an upcoming flight. She visited the local courthouse to obtain the new ID when she was notified the name on her social security card did not match the name she had been using.

"I was scared to visit the courthouse," said Brewer. "When the lady said 'This is not your name,' I immediately remembered the sermon from the night before and the preacher had preached on 'getting a new name,' I felt like that was the sign I needed."

Brewer exited the courthouse that day and fell to her knees on the lawn and turned her life over to Christ. She hasn't turned back since.

"What God did for me that day, no one else could," said Brewer. "I had an overwhelming feeling of grace, once I got up off that lawn, I was a different person, for the first time in my life I felt like I did deserve the Lord."

The Brewer family, which includes Erin, her husband Jeremy, their two daughters, Jade and Jaycie, and a son, Jace, started attending England Hill Free Will Baptist Church where the family became more and more involved in the ministry. Shortly after joining the church, Brewer was hired with the Boyd County school district as a cook where she remained for four years. She currently works as a special needs program assistant in the Boyd County Headstart Preschool program. Brewer also helps guide 64 kids from the county in a youth-led Bible study on Monday evenings. The family is in church twice on Sunday and several days throughout the week.

"The Lord got ahold of me and changed my life, I'm alive because he saved me and he was with me."

Brewer visits the jail every other Monday personally while the rest of the group picks up additional days throughout the month. She spends approximately four hours and two full classes are taught each night. Brewer stresses that the women who are seeking the Lord have made that choice themselves, the WOW ministry is just there to share the promises of the gospel and help guide them. At this point, the program has been successful in reaching the women and several baptisms have taken place inside the jail. Support for the women upon release is also a concern and the WOW ministry helps mentor the women, find them a church, a pen pal, whatever they need to stay on the right track after being released.

"It's easy to stay sober in jail," said Brewer. "The hard part is when we get out, we need to get involved in churches and things we enjoy."

Brewer is telling her story in hopes of reaching those who feel hopeless and need a helping hand. She hopes that someone who reads this article will be inspired to help and start a local program.

"I want somebody to read this article and be inspired to help and to reach out and start a program," said Brewer. "Sitting in jail, hopeless and hating myself, I didn't see a way out until later, this is what the Lord did for me, but it belongs to everybody."

Brewer said that the Lord has touched her life and is using her past experience to teach others and spread the word of the gospel.

"I was terrified to go back into that jail where I had served time, even as a teacher," said Brewer. "Once those cell doors shut, I was at peace, I knew this was what I was supposed to do."

"That's why the Lord kept me here," said Brewer. "I should be dead, honestly, but I believe he kept me here to do this, to go in and teach these women, tell them 'I'm exactly like you, I've been there,' I know in my heart that's why I'm alive."

For more information on how the program is working in Kentucky, or for more information on how to start a local program, Brewer can be contacted at 606-369-0828 or by email at erbrewer@live.com.







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