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Faith-based prison ministry helps Oklahoma women

TAFT — Sitting in her blue graduation robe, Heather Sisson feels more free than she has ever been.
BY JACLYN COSGROVE, Oklahoma Watch, Modified: December 12, 2010 at 11:44 am •  Published: December 12, 2010

the high abuse rate and dysfunctional family ... they equate God with that authority figure, so there's a lack of trust,” McCollum said.

McCollum said Victory Bible Institute counteracts that lack of trust by bringing in several authority figures, who offer different perspectives and who can gain the women's trust.

Also, the women can openly talk about being angry at God for not stopping the abuse and work through that anger, McCollum said.

“Once they realize that he's not a harmful God, not an abusive God and wants them good and has a plan for their life, they begin to heal and they begin to look at him in a different way,” McCollum said. “It gets past the mental realm, really into the heart.”

Finding peace

Another graduate, Nikki Farris, had a stable home with family support. But as a teenager, Farris lashed out and got into the wrong crowd.

When she was 20, Farris snatched a woman's purse in Oklahoma City.

She was arrested in 2000 on first-degree robbery and concealing stolen property complaints.

At first, she received a 100-year sentence, but it was later reduced to 35 years.

Farris spent her first seven years in prison as an angry person.

“I started out doing my time the wrong way,” she said.

Farris cried herself to sleep every night. For a while, Farris stayed angry.

“And then God got a hold of me,” she said.

About 2 years ago, Farris took a character building class while she was an inmate at the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud.

At first, Farris didn't take it seriously.

But after instructors started asking her some tough questions about herself, she decided to finally answer them.

Farris performed well enough that she became a mentor in the program.

Because of her good behavior, she was transferred to Eddie Warrior.

Farris said she has now become the person her parents kept telling her she could be and also the person God intended her to be.

“I've never been at so much peace and gained so much knowledge before,” Farris said.

“I'm just very thankful to be here, where I'm at right now. I've accomplished a lot.”