From trauma and addiction to freedom in Christ.
My name is Joanne Ugle I am a 51-year-old Wadjuk Noongar woman who grew up in Balga, a suburb north of Perth. I was brought up by my beloved grandmother, who has now passed on. She was the backbone of our family and losing her was a traumatic experience that I have carried with me through my life. I suppose it was that trauma which led to drug, alcohol, and gambling addictions. For me, spending time in and out of prison became the norm.
Even though I thought I knew God, I didn’t have a relationship with His Son Jesus, and I continued backsliding as my sin became deeper. As Proverbs 13 says, the road of the transgressor gets harder and harder, and that’s where my life was heading.
Throughout all my incarcerations I have attended many funerals, including my mother’s and my grandparents’. In 2019, my younger brother passed away. I think this was the point when I realised I couldn’t face another prison term. I was so desperate for something to change that I cried out to the Living God.
God heard my cry, and He turned my life around. Somehow I knew it was different this time. I finally gave Him my full attention, so much so that when I was released, I walked out of prison a completely different woman!
Prison Fellowship became part of my journey whilst I was in prison. God used those volunteers to plant seeds in my life. They encouraged me through fellowshipping and opening the Bible together. It just shows that God can open doors for you to hear the gospel even when you’re in prison! I now walk with my head high, knowing who I am in Christ. Amen!
I made a stand to follow my God. I now wake up each day with a purpose. I feel a great sense of freedom and I now truly know the value of my family. My circle of friends is now full of people God has chosen to influence my life. What was once empty has now been filled with God’s love, favour, and grace.
On the day of my release, I walked to reception to collect my belongings, only to be told they had lost all my clothes. These weren’t just the clothes I’d worn into the prison, they were the clothes I wore to my brother’s funeral.
The officers took me to another room and gave me new clothes to wear out of the prison. It was like taking off the old and putting on the new that Paul talks about in Galatians. It was no longer me who lives, but Christ who lives in me (Galatians 2:20). I died to everything at the prison that day. At that moment, Jesus broke every chain of addiction and truly set me free! I remember looking up to heaven and asking, “Where now?”, because I had no idea where I was going, but I trusted God had a plan.
I am now employed full-time at Outcare, a community reintegration organisation, as a peer-support worker. The amazing thing about it is that I was once their client and now I work alongside them! It is truly a blessing, and it reminds me every day that if anyone can open doors, it is God Almighty! He didn’t give me a diploma but He did give me life experience and a powerful testimony to share and bring Him the glory.
Joel 2:25 says, “I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten.” God did that for me when He gave me back my son, Laney, who was taken away from me.
I have now been out of prison for 2 years and four months, I have been clean all that time! I’m still running the race and my eyes are still on the prize “Jesus the author and finisher of my faith.” (Hebrews 12:2)
Thank you Jesus for saving me!