Bestselling author and international speaker Carol Kent will share her story Oct. 13 during the annual J.A.I.L. Ministry banquet at the Bell County Expo Center in Belton.
She has authored over 20 books, including “When I Lay My Isaac Down” and “Becoming a Woman of Influence.”
At 12:35 a.m. Oct. 24, 1999, the phone rang.
That phone call thrust Carol Kent into a waking nightmare. Her son, 25-year-old Jason, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a strong Christian, had been charged with the murder of his wife’s ex-husband.
Even as Carol and her husband, Gene, reeled with the devastating news, a story of hope and redemption began emerging alongside the despair.
Seventeen years later, after thousands of tears shed and hundreds of trips to visit her son in prison, Carol’s story has made its way across the country through many conferences and speaking engagements which offer a surprising account of joy and resilience against a world of loss and incarceration.
The theme of this year’s banquet, “Behold I will do something new…” Isaiah 43:19 is a real part of Carol Kent’s life.
Carol is quoted as saying, “In my life, the new thing that God is doing is to help me to realize that the forgotten members of society—inmates and their families — desperately need a voice ... I realize that God has given me a platform, and He has given me the opportunity to write books and to speak in radio, and television, and print interviews to be able to be a voice for those who might not be heard in another way. And so I try to be faithful to those opportunities, so citizens who aren’t even aware of what’s going on in the prison system know what the needs are, where the problems are, where the hurts are, and so they can know how they can help.
“So that’s been a huge change for me, because it wasn’t even on my radar before my son was incarcerated. I think my life has changed in that I cry more than I used to, and I don’t apologize for those tears. And I’ve discovered that when emotion is genuine, people ‘get’ it. They aren’t offended by it. They don’t feel like their emotions are being jerked around, because they can tell when it’s genuine, and they can tell when it’s not.
“Some people will come to me and say, ‘Oh Carol, compared to what your family has gone through, I don’t have a problem.’ But I tell them, ‘If you’ve had a spouse betray you and leave you for somebody else, that’s pain. If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, that’s pain. If you’ve had a child born with a disability, or if you’re struggling with infertility, or if you’ve been a part of watching the stock market fall apart and feeling like your financial future is devastated, that’s pain.’
“And so I tell them, ‘Pain is pain is pain is pain.’ I didn’t realize how many people identify with the themes in my books, or with having to relinquish what they love most to the God who loves them more than whatever represents their Isaac. I call it an “Isaac experience.”
Carol and her husband, Gene, founded the nonprofit organization, Speak Up for Hope, which benefits inmates and their families.
J.A.I.L. (Jesus Acts in Inmates’ Lives) Ministry is a not-for-profit ministry that provides services to Bell County Jail inmates, former inmates, victims and their families.
The annual banquet is the major fundraiser for the ministry.
Tickets to attend the banquet are $30 per person. All proceeds are used for sustaining and expanding the ministry.
For more information about the banquet or to make reservations, call 254-933-8506 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
J.A.I.L. Ministry is approaching almost 30 years of sharing the Gospel message with those persons both in and out of jail that need to hear the Truth.
In 2016, J.A.I.L. Ministry, Inc. made nearly 40,000 contacts inside the Bell County Law Enforcement Center(s) and the Juvenile Justice Center. Programs are non-denominational, and include Bible studies, Anger Resolution class, Quest for Authentic Manhood Life Skills, True Spirituality for Men and Beth Moore’s Breaking Free for Women.