From Prison to the Mission Field

By Brandy Rounseville

I grew up attending a small town church in rural Mississippi. I was in the building every time the doors were open. Raised by my grandmother, I remember deacons and pastors were regular fixtures around our dinner table.

I accepted Jesus as my Savior at the age of 8. I knew without a doubt that if I died I’d go to heaven. But that’s all I knew. I didn’t know how to worship Jesus in spirit and truth. I wasn’t discipled.

When I was 12 years old, my spiritual life became really derailed. My mother fought my grandmother in court to get custody of me. My mom had remarried a man with two sons. They needed someone to raise the two sons, so they tried to get custody of me.

I didn’t want to go, but that didn’t matter. A judge forced me to move back in with my mom. I started to rebel—smoking, drinking and through relationships with boys—almost immediately.

At the age of 15, I got pregnant and then married an abusive man. We were together for the next eight years. The abuse was so bad that I had a miscarriage because of it. After our divorce, I began to spiral further downhill. I was introduced to marijuana.

I clearly remember God gently whispering to me that I needed to leave the area. I needed a fresh start. But I didn’t listen. It was a horrible mistake.

Soon, I descended even further—into cocaine. I couldn’t get enough of it. In a four-year span, I lost everything I cared about. I experienced such a deep level of spiritual attack that I lost connection with reality. I ended up hurting someone I loved badly because my mind was so messed up. I was given a 25-year sentence as a result.

I only spent four years in prison, but they were four really important years. I studied God’s Word while I was there. The Lord put me in an incubator and protected me spiritually while I was in prison.

When I got out of jail, I figured I’d be fine. I thought the spiritual warfare was behind me. It wasn’t. I started to sense I was struggling again. A friend told me about Buried Treasure, a Christ-centered ministry that helps women transitioning from prison and addictions.

Under their guidance, I began to read God’s Word like never before. Jesus started slowly changing me from the inside out. I won’t lie; it was extremely hard. I started to realize that the Lord had a call on my life. I didn’t know what that was at the time, but I began to see how He wanted to use all the pain from my past to do something new.

I’m learning to trust God’s Word and His Word alone. Jesus is remaking me—taking off my old nature and giving me a new one. I stand in front of the mirror every day and tell myself, “Brandy, you are dead. You no longer live.” I never want to forget that because of what Jesus has done on the cross I am new—brand new.

Now, God is using me to help others.

Clark and Valerie Rumfelt, who are North American Mission Board missionaries and the executive directors of Buried Treasures, asked me to stay at the home to help other women in transition. I recently finished an associate’s degree. I plan to head to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary to prepare for what God has next for me. I believe God is leading me to join Him on the mission field in North America.

I’d like to help disciple women in a church plant setting or on a Native America reservation.

My favorite Bible verse, Matthew 6:33, says, “But seek ye first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” I’m so grateful God has proven that verse to me over and over again in my life.

Send Relief equips churches and individuals to tackle issues in North American communities by providing resources, volunteer training, and opportunities to serve.

Published October 12, 2017