Bound With Them
January 21, 2021
Continue to remember those in prison
as if you were together with them in prison - Hebrews 13:3
The Bible is full of life-changing verses. These are verses that people take to heart in such a way that they find their life’s work; they restore broken relationships; they feel compelled to take leaps of faith they cannot really explain. Hebrews 13:3 is that verse for Hannah Overton.
In 2007, Hannah was accused and convicted of a crime she did not commit. She was imprisoned for seven years, but her innocence prevailed. No one would have blamed her if this extreme injustice made her cynical or diminished her faith, but through this experience, God prepared her to found Syndeo Ministries.
“Women in prison are not alone; we are bound with them,” Hannah shared. “Our organization helps women who are incarcerated and transitioning out of prison. Many feel isolated and hopeless, but we believe our ministry can help them thrive.”
Syndeo Ministries offers a Bible study, pen pal connections, and special outreaches. In 2020, their special outreach, which was partially funded by their TMF grant, provided drinking cups and soap to incarcerated women.
Beyond the prisons where they are serving, Syndeo Ministries is creating transitional housing for women. Through a generous land donation, they are developing a safe space to help 25 women transition when they are released from prison. On-site they will not only have a place to live, but they will have access to job training, parenting classes, anger management courses, financial management classes, and boundaries courses.
“When I left prison, I had incredible family support and access to financial resources. Even with all of those resources and support, the transition was still very difficult,” Hannah said. “Unfortunately, many women do not have those safety nets in place. They leave prison without knowing where to go or how they will support themselves. Men have access to a number of organizations that will help them transition, but there are fewer than ten places that will help women transition from prison back to society in Texas, so I knew we needed to help fill that gap.”
Regrettably, the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental and physical health of inmates. The way in which inmates are housed leaves no possibility for social distancing, which has caused mass outbreaks in prisons throughout Texas among those incarcerated and the staff that serve these facilities. With pandemic regulations in place, there is also less opportunity to have personal contact with female prisoners who were already feeling isolated before the pandemic began.
Furthermore, donations to many nonprofits, including Syndeo Ministries, decreased in the early months of the pandemic, compromising their ability to do their best work when vulnerable populations needed them most. Their TMF grant helped bridge that deficit, empowering Syndeo to get cups to 9,000 incarcerated women who desperately needed individual cups, so that during the pandemic they would not be drinking out of shared coolers or sinks with only their cupped hands to hold the water.
“I don’t think we would have been able to do our outreach without the TMF grant, so even though funding was down initially, God still made a way for us to provide these much-needed basic items,” Hannah shared. “God has provided everything we need so far, and we trust that God will continue to provide so we can do the work we have been called to do – to make sure women in prison know they are not alone.”