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        Taken In
 

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gfre By

Sylvia Browning

 

 

ISBN 978-1-938527-32-6

Paperback-404 pages-$25.00

 

 

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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

 As you did it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.

Matthew 25:40 (English Standard Version)

 

This scripture verse sets the tone for Taken In, 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?

 One particular prisoner, whom she knew before his criminal behavior placed him behind bars, was her reference point for the prisoners she worked with while they were still in prison. She supplied Bibles and Bible studies to every prisoner who expressed a desire for them. She corresponded with them by letter, talked with them by phone, and visited them in prison.

 She was at the prison gates when the parolees came out to face life that, for many of them, was completely different from what they had ever known. Wal-Mart is richer because of her financial aid in clothing and prepaid cell phones for the men she called ‘My Guys’. She made certain each connected with his parole officer and found the designated residence. When those places were not suitable (few were), she arranged to take them into the home she and her husband occupied. There, they lived by contractual household rules:

 

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.

 Taken In is a powerful message to each of us. If we are living within God’s will, He will take care of us in every sense of the word. His promise to Moses and Joshua (Deuteronomy 31:6-8, Joshua 5:1) extends to all His people: He will never leave us nor forsake us. Ms. Browning felt God’s presence and experienced His help, financially and emotionally, throughout her ministry, which continues.

 I highly recommend Taken In to each individual and group interested in helping the people who have strayed into criminal activity. Perhaps equally important, every person who has a family member or friend who have strayed from the narrow path will benefit by recognizing, through reading Taken In, that most parolees are eager to return to a non-criminal life if only someone will believe in them.

 Ms. Browning said it best: When helping struggling souls, we will be most successful when they believe we believe in them – when they believe we appreciate them.

  

 

 
 
 
 
   
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