Friday, September 13, 2013

Treasures of Darkness: A Prison Journey by Trish Jenkins

Back Cover Blurb
Prison was not on the “Goal Chart” of entrepreneur Trish Jenkins. A breach of the Corporations Act meant losing her multi-million dollar portfolio, including her family home.
It also meant Trish served 8 months in prison.
Isolated from her husband and 3 little girls, living among Queensland’s most dangerous criminals, Trish could have succumbed to despair.
But treasure is found in dark places.
Refusing to give in to self-pity, Trish answered a new calling to make a difference in the lives around her. In doing so she found a different kind of freedom and healing.
Real and raw, these pages are better than a memoir; made up of letters, personal journaling and hindsight.
“I assumed I would be a model prisoner because I was a Christian. So how did I get into so much trouble, so often, yet with the best of intentions?”
Like when she was reported escaped…
Or setting the alarm off in the officers’ quarters…
Or having to explain why the woman she prayed for fell to the floor…
Be Inspired
You’ll laugh, cry and shake your head at hilarious stories, tragic circumstances, discouragement, hope and ever present faith.

“You may have no razor wire around you, but you may feel more like a prisoner than me! Let me share my keys to freedom with you.”

Book Excerpt

It was July, 2009. I lay on my back on the empty prison tennis court gazing up at the sky. It was the only time in S1 where there was not a cage ceiling above my head. I still remember how blue the sky was. Our 1 hour of exercise time outside was almost up.
The other 5 women from my unit had already gone back into the block for a cigarette or a cold drink. From a short distance the voices of some Murri (Aboriginal) girls called out to me from their unit windows facing the court, "Hey, Sista-girl! You ok? Whaddayadoin?"
I waved a lazy hand to them and smiled. I felt the blue sky like I felt the breeze, soaking it in. It had been so long. I reached up swirling my hands in figure eights. I knew I looked crazy but I didn't care. There was no wire, no bars between me and the deep blue sky.
I blinkered my eyes with my fingers to block the wire side fences from my peripheral view. That's better. I imagined I was free. It felt like for once I was cheating the system that so thoroughly controlled each area of my life, covering me in greyness.
I was six months into an eight month sentence. Each day felt like a week, each week like a month. This particular stint in S1 was supposed to be a punishment for an incident that got me kicked out of the minimum security facility known as Helena Jones Community Centre at Albion in the heart of Brisbane. Instead, S1 was a relief. The conditions were Spartan but felt more like a spiritual retreat giving my shattered nerves rest.
The women I shared a unit with were supposed to be the worst, but I found them very easy to get along with. How sad to be in a category where you are considered bad even by prison standards! How much rejection can a person take?
I liked these women better than the catty ones who acted superior. These ones didn't have to prove how tough they were. They didn't get caught up in politics or nasty backstabbing. They called a spade a spade; well actually, they called a spade a #$%&* spade, but I hardly noticed. I just saw precious women being their kind of normal.
They thought I was a bit odd but harmless. I was a "one-eighty-straighty," (both morally and socially). I didn't swear, didn't "swing," was "nice," and one of them "real" Christians; possibly misguided but well-intentioned. They indulged me. I liked them.
Perhaps I was seeing them the way God sees them?
If someone had told me in January 2009 that less than 2 years later I would be on a platform speaking to 500 people about my prison experience I would have blinked in bewilderment.
Yet that public "outing" was just the beginning.
I'd been so ashamed I didn't want anyone to know of my failure.
Imagine the worst thing you've ever done, the thing you are most ashamed of, eternally available for the public with just one click on Google!
Mine is.
The loss of personal freedom and dignity affects people differently. For some, prison is an escape from the perils of a violent home or even homelessness. For others it is where they catch up with friends, who lead an equally lawless lifestyle. For many, it is just plain damaging.
When asked about what being in prison is like, I sometimes wonder which answer to give. I spent 8 months incarcerated and had a variety of locations, people and experiences. I was "managed" by people of questionable competence. It was awful and yet there were times of sublime joy each time I had a victory over the evil that pervaded.
It took time and ministry to heal from the emotional and mental hits I took. However, I was determined not to be beaten. There were times I despaired; an insidious voice taunted me, telling me I had ruined my future and was irreparably damaged, my children would have hang-ups, and I had become preaching material for pious ministers to use.
Yet in the back of my mind I always had hope. Sure I would dip into despair, tears and anger. However, what kept me rising again was my faith in God being able to make all things work together for good. My experience would not be wasted, unless I gave up.

Extract 2: New and unusual friends in the Watch-House
When it was my turn, I contemplated the little room. Metal walls with a filthy little metal shelf moulded in the corner, presumably for my towel and clothes; and some little bumps in the metal floor to prevent slipping. No taps, just a shower rose and a button. I pressed it expecting cold water to spray me or a tiny trickle to dribble down the wall. I was surprised to have a proper shower, until it stopped automatically after 3 minutes. I dried off and dressed in the same shorts and T-shirt that served as underwear and pressed the button to be let out again.
Ill-fitting replacements weren’t issued until Sunday. It was the only change of clothes we were given in the 6 days we were there.
A small rectangle of polished metal was screwed to the wall above our basin to serve as a mirror. It was so high we had to stretch to see a cloudy image of our faces. I don’t remember if we were issued a comb. We had nothing for our skin.
Six days without moisturiser in air-conditioning takes its toll. By the time I got to the prison my face was tight and my lips were so badly chapped that pieces of hard, broken skin were standing up like razors. Both sides of my mouth were split.
It was Friday, and a new member was introduced to our pod.
Bernice was a large, foul mouthed young woman with long, thick hair, very pale skin and rotten teeth. She sailed in, announced she was having withdrawals from heroin, went straight to the other cell and lay down to sleep. My first close contact with what was obviously a “hardened” criminal!
Amanda and I looked at each other and wondered what we were in for when she awoke. The reading I had done regarding withdrawals painted a frightening picture of screaming pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and flinging oneself about for several days.
Our next guest arrived and we pointed to the cell where Bernice was sleeping.
She looked frightened, and asked us anxiously, “Will she attack me?” Not having a clue, we answered, “No, you’ll be safe, she’s OK.” We did our best to reassure her but we weren’t the ones sharing a cell with Bernice!
Francis was a young woman with big curls, a baby face and sad eyes. She had worked in the payroll office of a supermarket. She was also a gambling addict. Her job provided her the opportunity to misdirect funds she could then use to gamble with. She is still amazed at how easy it was to create fictional employees.
Francis came from a blended, yet respectable home. She didn’t drink much or do drugs. However, she had begun buying scratch-it cards as a lonely young teenager, quickly becoming addicted. She was to serve 14 months.
In the afternoon, an uproar of catcalls arose from down the corridor. As we craned our necks, we watched in awe as a young wild-haired Indigenous woman strode towards us. With blanket and towel in one hand, the other flipped “the bird” to the male prisoners as she swept past them.
Sophie entered our pod like it was her lounge room, dumping her gear, flopping down with a big grin and a string of profanity.
We liked her instantly.
There was something reassuring about her confidence. I was fascinated. She had got caught with drugs at Southbank, a popular city play area where families gather and security is greater. Cops can generally tell when someone is suspect, and she and her boyfriend just looked, well, suspicious. Giving cheek is a quick way to get more attention from the police, too, even if you are not doing anything wrong.
Sophie was familiar with a variety of watch-houses. She claimed to have miscarried in one due to a police beating. I didn’t know if she was telling the truth, but from what I have heard and observed since, it wouldn’t surprise me. There are many stories from Indigenous women about police brutality but they are difficult to prove.
People like me are not normally bothered by police. As a well-mannered, well-dressed, white woman, I have “respectable” written all over me. By comparison with many women, I have nothing to complain about. In prison I made a point of being polite to everyone, especially officers, regardless of how they spoke to me. I carefully worded my requests, so they would respond favourably. I didn’t feel like a criminal, I didn’t see myself as a criminal, so I didn’t talk to them like I was inferior. This didn’t always endear me to some staff, but those stories will come later...

To buy Trish's book:

About Trish:

Living with murderers, drug dealers, frauds and broken humanity, her prayers for deliverance were not answered the way she expected. Instead the Lord delivered her "through the fire..." Prison was not part of Trish Jenkins’ ministry plans but it happened. Conned by a fraud and a breach of the Corporations Act meant losing her multi-million dollar portfolio, including her family home. It also meant this Australian mother served 8 months in prison, isolated from her husband and 3 little girls.
Instead of succumbing to despair and self-pity, Trish chose to believe the Word of God and in doing so, she introduced many other prisoners to Christ. In the darkness, Trish found keys to freedom and courage and a deeper walk with the Holy Spirit.
From stories of winning over bullies, to the despair of persecution for her faith, Trish shares her journey with warmth and candour.

Today Trish shares her hard-won “Treasures” as an entertaining, insightful speaker and author, inspiring audiences to be courageous in all circumstances. Ministering effectively to both Christian and secular audiences, she is warm, compassionate and funny! Today, as a well-respected international speaker and author, Trish’s heart-felt and inspirational story filled with practical advice is re-igniting fire and faith in the hearts of her audiences.

Trish is an Aussie and has been married to Justin since 1992. They have three daughters including identical twins. They live just north of Brisbane and only 40 minutes from “The Crocodile Man, Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo! The Jenkins’ are active members of Citipointe Church, Australia.

To connect with Trish:
Twitter: @Trishjenkins

Trish Jenkins is giving away a copy of Treasures of Darkness. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice -- once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)

Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart


Patricia Bradley said...

This sounds like a powerful book. So glad you had her on the Barn Door Book Loft! pat at ptbradley dot com

Anonymous said...

Oh my This was very interesting. Please add my name to the drawing...Trish, I can't imagine surviving in prison, but so glad that GOD guided you through this. I really want to read this book of yours. Thanks Sandra for having Trish. MAXIE mac262(at)me(dot)com

KayM said...

This sounds like a very intriguing book. Thank you for offering a copy. I enjoyed the excerpts and I'm looking forward to reading Treasures of Darkness. I am just finishing Jim Bakker's book about his years in prison, so it will be interesting if their are any similarities in the experiences of the two authors.

squiresj said...

Count me in. I would love to win, read, and review.
jrs362 at Hotmail com

sam said...

I cannot imagine what it would be like to spend time in prison! Must be an amazing book. sharon, CA wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

bonton said...

What an incredible story! Really want to read this book & see how Trish witnesses & serves the Lord in prison!

Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!


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