Lock ’em up and throw away the key or be fishers of men pulling them up from the deep? It wasn’t until Debbie was faced with the imprisonment of several individuals close to her that her heart began to feel the latter.
“I had all the feelings one would have in any tragic or heartbreaking situation that people face every day. It felt like the breath got knocked completely out of me,” Smith said. “My greatest comfort was my Bible that I held like a newborn baby against my chest along with becoming even closer to God than I have ever been.”
As Smith observed her loved ones in prison, the realities of the circumstances weighed upon her—the conditions, the lack of rehabilitation, and the lack of hope that so many face. “It’s a sad existence; they’re like the walking dead,” Smith said of what she’s seen. “They’re breathing, but they aren’t alive.”
While she understands the necessity of society’s principle to administer consequences, it’s been through her personal connection and revelation that Debbie developed a passion for those trapped in prison. “Jesus doesn’t want anyone to perish; He wants everyone to repent and to have eternal life,” Smith says. “People may be defined by their past in the eyes of the law, but those with a repentant heart are not defined by their past in the eyes of God.”
These petitions have kept her prayers persistent, and it’s what inspired her 2018 poetry book Echoes of His Heart. The process of writing her first book of poetry wasn’t easy, however. It was a six-to-seven-year labor-of-love as she went on an emotional and spiritual journey. “I was surprised to see how much empathy I felt toward the hurting and the lost. It’s no doubt that my spirit was connected with the Spirit of God.”
Smith has found that she has much to learn about the mass incarceration crisis that our country is in but remains encouraged that more people are being a voice for the voiceless. As for what’s next after Echoes of His Heart, Debbie is just concentrating on the fruit from her labors. She’s thankful for what God has already done and is excited to see what He will continue to do.
“All I know for sure is this—my book of poetry is my lunch,” Debbie told Kingdom Winds. Like the boy who gave his bread and fish for the ministry of others, so Debbie has offered up her helping.
“I’ve given all that I have.”
Click here to learn more about Echoes of His Heart and to order your copy today!