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Nothing in Sylvia Browning's childhood in a small town in eastern Arizina suggested that she would move outside her comfort zone. Her physician father and nurse mother were loving and fun. She became a Christian at twenty-one. Then she married and raised two children. Then, in an unexpected turn of events, she came face-to-face with a world of thrown-away people. For the last twenty-five years, she has dedicated her life to improving the lives of released prison inmates. She uses her real name, when cautioned to use an alias. She has taken them into her home. She picked up many at the prison gates. Some were successes. Some were failures, but Sylvia Browning has proven that she is an Angel in our time.
First Reviewer Comment
Recognizing and Accepting God’s Plan for Our Lives
Matthew 25:40 (English Standard Version)
This scripture verse sets the tone for
the memoir of a Christian woman’s dedication to helping the people whom
society considers ‘throwaways’. Sylvia Browning held that verse in her
heart and obeyed its message through 25 years of a prison ministry that
most people wouldn’t even consider.
Ms. Browning grew up in a loving family on ‘the right side of the tracks’, with no knowledge of the darker side of life. She became a Christian at age 21, not realizing that God called her to a life that included visiting prisons, advocating for prisoners, and turning her home into an unofficial halfway house for parolees. She gave her real name although cautioned to use an alias. She gave the prisoners her home address although advised to use a post office box. Her reasoning was simple. How could she convince prisoners they were people of value in God’s sight if they were not good enough to be in her home?
1. Obtain and hold down a job and help with living expenses.
2. Attend any required rehabilitation classes.
3. Attend family devotions in the evening.
4. Sleep at home every night unless other arrangements made previously.
5. Attend church on a regular basis.
6. Stay away from known drug/alcohol users.
7. Help with household chores
8. Participate in family outings
9. Bring no alcohol/drugs/tobacco into our home
The term ‘Taken in’ has two connotations. The prisoners were ‘taken in’ by Ms. Browning and helped with the necessities of life. However, she was ‘taken in’ by some of the parolees she helped with housing, jobs, money, and vehicles. Ms. Browning does not sugarcoat the problems she experienced and the disappointments she faced when some of the men took advantage of her financial goodness. She assures us she had by far more successes than failures.