Guilt that had been harbored for over 30 years sent a South County woman into the Tracy prison unafraid, talking with inmates through the courage of her convictions.
Virginia Angell – a personal weight-loss coach running a “Weight Loss Challenge” that offers a 12-week course, spoke to a group of convicts at Tracy’s Deuel Vocational Institute about the guilt she had about “killing” her son by having an abortion.
Her talk brought many of the men to tears.
The prison visit started with Angell taking a friend to her cancer treatments at a Stockton hospital. Through small talk with a couple sitting next to her in the waiting room, the husband and wife pair heard the story of her greatest challenge in life – how the now 59-year-old woman had gotten beyond her feelings of guilt and the related sleepless nights and depression that she had endured for “killing” her son.
She would soon learn she had opened up to a DVI chaplain. The couple felt it was important that the prison inmates hear her life’s story. She said she found that the incarcerated men knew little about the subject of abortion or anything about a woman’s womb. One convict had been overheard on the prison telephone telling his girl friend to “just get rid of the thing.”
Not only is Angell a weight-loss coach, she is doing her best to relieve hidden agonies that she perceives in others – a lesson she learned firsthand from her own past decisions.
She looks back at the trip to the Stockton cancer unit with her friend as a divine appointment to meet that chaplain and his wife.
“I was in the waiting room talking about my abortion like I was speaking about the weather,” she recalled.
Angell said that the chaplain and his wife had been praying for anyone who could make a difference in speaking to the inmates. They both felt the men needed to be educated about babies in the womb, and told Angell so.
She has two sons now in addition to “Michael” along with one grandson and one on the way.
“I have been blessed with a wonderful family that supports my prison ministry,” she said.
Angell said she had her abortion in 1977 and feels that she was forgiven but not shielded from the consequences. She explained that it wasn’t until 2009 when she went on a journey to be open and honest with her feelings regarding the loss of her baby.
It was that year that she signed up for a post-abortion counseling education class at a pregnancy center in Dublin. It is a religious experience – a Bible study where women relive their abortion scenarios.
“God meets with us healing our pain, shame, anger and all the other feelings that this has brought up. At the end (of the class), we had a memorial service where we were given insight to our babies and what they were up to now. Yes, we do need to grow through pain to be healed, but what a blessing,” she said.
Angell said that everything about her prison ministry has been a divine plan for her life – to comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
“God is able to use me because He healed me and gives me everything I need to love and pray for those who need His mercy, grace and forgiveness,” she said.
In her prison presentations she tells the prisoners, “I have a son named Michael, who is in the army of the Lord doing spiritual warfare in the heavenlies.”
She is now getting ready to start her 12-week weight-loss course in Tracy.
“Our goal is to encourage people to lose weight and inches and get healthy by eating a healthy level of protein and calories each day, teaching the benefit of good nutrition and exercise,” she said.
To preregister for the program, call Virginia at 209-221-6705.