“I actually came to my faith while I was incarcerated,” shares SCS student, Leonara Walker. “I was incarcerated in 2013, and before that I was an addict and homeless for several years. However, I met a lady while I was incarcerated, who introduced me to Jesus, and my life changed forever.”After leaving prison, Leonara went to a faith based rehab center where she was able to walk with Jesus through recovery. “Coming out of rehab was hard at first because it is one thing when you are in a confined area, but it’s another thing when you have to take the walk into action. At first I stumbled a little, but I thank God that I got to live at Haven for Hope after rehab. I remember sitting down on my cot at Haven for Hope and not having anything, but I heard God tell me, ‘You have me.’”

Leonara kept walking with Jesus and saw many changes in her life, including restoration with her family. At first her family did not understand or believe her new faith, but soon they were able to see her complete surrender to the Lord. “It was hard on my children at first, because they only knew me as an addict. However, Jesus has brought both of my sons back into my life and has brought new life into my family. He taught me how to ask for forgiveness and how to truly love my kids.”

Leonara’s faith inspired her to serve others who were struggling with addiction and incarceration. She works at The Center for Healthcare Services walking with people as they go through their own recovery process. She gets to share how God changed her life and hopes to share the freedom of Christ with everyone she meets.

God has also called Leonara to start FREED Texas, a non-profit aimed at helping formerly incarcerated people. “Our vision is a greater American community in which formerly incarcerated people are spiritually restored, high-performing, fully committed to living crime-free, and have been set free of their negative stigma,” Leonara tells us. “This call to serve this population has inspired me to pursue a theological education so I can be better equipped for this mission.”

Now a student at SCS in San Antonio, Leonara is excited to dive deeper into God’s word and receive training for her call to serve others. “A theological education is about spreading it out to help others understand,” Leonara says. “I know I will have people who want to go to seminary after they participate in our programs, and I hope I can serve as an inspiration and as a bridge to help them pursue that call.”