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Local woman holds annual Christmas jail ministry

Phil Campbell resident Jocelynn James Edmonds has a special – and to most, unusual – Christmas tradition: Each year, she spends part of the day in the Franklin County Detention Center in a ministry with the women incarcerated there. This year was her ninth to do so.

“I want to thank Franklin County jail administrator Theresa Qualls for allowing me to have the ministry each year,” said Edmonds. “The weather was warm, and we were able to sit outside in the fenced area. I listened to them as they told me about their plans for when they get out. I was able to give my opinion and guide two of them to seek treatment when they are able to do so.”

Through donations from Borden Dental and others in the community, each of the seven women received a devotional, towel, body wash and a box of Little Debbie cakes. “It isn’t much, but I love being able to take it to them,” said Edmonds, “and they were all very appreciative of the visit.”

Ten years ago, Edmonds spent Christmas in jail – but not by choice. After becoming addicted to pain medication legally prescribed over the course of several surgeries, she ultimately found herself wanted for crimes related to maintaining the addiction. When she saw herself on Alabama’s Most Wanted list, she decided to seek help and turned herself in.

Incarcerated and in rehab for a year, she has now been free from addiction since Nov. 5, 2012.

“I surrendered my life to God,” explained Edmonds, “and when I came home, I knew my calling was to help others like me.” Since 2018, her personal ministry, The Place of Grace, has operated as a nonprofit and continues to see increasing support from others who want to support her goals.

The only thing missing, Edmonds said, is a building – and even that is now underway.

Her church, Community Church at Hackleburg, partnered with her by donating the land to build The Place of Grace Center. Still in the process of raising the necessary funding, Edmonds and her supporters have generated $113,000 for the building fund.

A groundbreaking planned three weeks ago had to be postponed because of weather, but Edmonds said the day will come soon.

Her husband Greg, also in recovery, works with her in doing what he can to help others recover. For three weeks, he has been helping a man get into treatment, and The Place of Grace is paying his intake fee. “We work so well together,” explained Jocelynn. “He’ll ride with me to take someone to treatment. He’s very committed, and we make a wonderful team.

“It’s all because of God and generous donors,” she added. “We still have a long way to go, but our ministry has already helped more than 2,000 women in addiction recover through Christ. The Lord has definitely been moving in this.

“We need churches, businesses and more people sowing into this ministry. Christ is at work in all of this, and it takes everyone working together to make it all happen.”

For more information about The Place of Grace, call 256-668-5390, visit their Facebook page or go to the organization’s website at placeofgracecenter.com.

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