It began more than 47 years ago, with a simple invitation: a prison chaplain asked MaryAnn Jordan if she would come and sing at a church service for the prison inmates. MaryAnn and her late husband Perry had already been ministering at hospitals and nursing homes. But their first visit to the prison would change their lives forever. There, they witnessed firsthand the loneliness, emptiness, and spiritual darkness that infests the prisons. As they observed the despair and hopelessness of the inmates, both Perry and MaryAnn found that they could relate to the inmates.
MaryAnn had grown up in an alcoholic home. She longed for love and acceptance, but found none. In her thirties, and in a marriage with a man who verbally, physically and sexually abused their children. MaryAnn seriously contemplated suicide. The hurt and anger and fear she felt inside had threatened to destroy her. "I just went out and sat on a little bank and cried out to God."
MaryAnn recalls " I cried out to him because I had no one else to turn to. I said "Lord, I don't know anything, I need some answers. Do something in my life. Here I am, I'm yours. Please forgive me! " As she sat there, a gentle breeze blew across the little lake beside her. MaryAnn found herself singing "When the wind blows warm across my face, I can feel the Lord's holy grace, and the love that's there I want to share, the love, wonderful love of God." At that moment MaryAnn says God seemed to embrace her soul.
When MaryAnn met Perry they were drawn together by the pain of their pasts-and the promise of their new lives in Christ. They were married in 1972.
So when the Jordans received that first opportunity to share about the love of God with prison inmates, their hearts were deeply moved. They determined to reach out to the lost and hurting people - abandoned and forgotten - behind bars. We know that God is in the life-changing business, because He changed us." MaryAnn explains. "I know when I first got saved, I just wanted to shout on a mountain: "He's real! It's real! I've found a purpose for living!" I used to ask God why I was here, why He wouldn't just let me die. Life hurt too much. But then I found real love. God put His love in my heart and I wanted to share it with others."