Life teaches us many lessons, doesn’t it? If we are wise enough to listen and learn. But second chances aren’t always a given, but a blessing.
And sometimes, it’s a calling.
Which is the case with Marina Fox, the owner of McKinney Furniture and Design.
Reclaimed Ministry is her heart, her soul and her passion.
“God has called us to help others and this is exactly what Reclaimed Ministry is all about,” she explains to me as we stand in the McKinney furniture showroom.
Prior to Covid, Marina explains how she was going into to Collin County jail and doing prison ministry with the ladies and then realized a lot of these ladies wanted so much more. “They didn’t just want to stay where they are or to blame others or to blame society. They want more. For themselves. For their families. For their communities.”
Many might question her why, or her she is helping or why she is helping those in prison specifically.
“A lot of times prison is an opportunity for people to regroup. They are separated from all of the negative distractions, a lot of the things and the people and the environments that got them in trouble and they get a chance to stop and think and realize they have a true and genuine desire to change.”
Reclaimed Ministries gives them that opportunity.
That is why she created this ministry – as a gateway, a stepping stone, a doorway to hope and to a new life.
But it is not a free ride, they must work. And work hard. And show their determination to change. To want a new life.
“But being in prison is one thing. You would think that they only thing they want is to be free” but it is so much more than that, “When I would tell them you will be released soon, I would see a lot of fear and anxiety.” Anxiety of freedom? How does that make sense one might ask, Marina explains, “they tell me here in jail, it is easy for me to be good. When I get out all I know, all I know, is drugs… my friends, I am coming out of prison with a rap sheet, “who is going to hire me?”
It would be easy to give up and give in.
But that is where the ministry steps in.
To show them there is another way. That we are all flawed. We all have dings and dents and blemishes and yes, some have a rap sheet.
“But God shows us differently. God shows us we are redeemed and that we are better than and that we are not a consequence of our past.”
But not being washed up and washed back into a sea of drugs and crime presented a huge problem for those in the system. However, it also presented an opportunity for Marina and her vision for Reclaimed Ministries.
Marina uses her store, McKinney Furniture and Design, as an opportunity. Not just for those in the program, but for McKinney and surrounding communities. A chance to change lives.
“I know these women, I know what they’ve done, I know their past. If they truly show me not just the desire to change, but put in the work, then this is a place where I can hire them and they are being taught so much more than furniture. It’s about redemption. It’s about life skills. It’s about a fresh start.” But a fresh start that is worked for and earned.
And isn’t it such a metaphor – this beautiful façade – the furniture, the glamour, all things shiny. Yet, in reality, don’t we all just want another chance? To be believed in? To have someone believe in us more than we believe in ourselves sometimes? That is exactly Marina’s vision. It is one of beauty, not shame. One of strength, not past indiscretions. It is one of forgiveness. Of redemption. Of being reclaimed.
There are conditions. It is not a ‘free ride.’ Participants must be drug tested regularly and must attend a 12-step Bible Study every Friday morning.
“It’s a chance at a fresh start.” But it is so much more she continues, “Equipping them with worldly knowledge, life skills, work skills, and spiritual knowledge and skills.”
Thus why the scripture, ‘whomever is in Christ is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold, new things have come,” remains one of their tenants.
This is an opportunity for those in the program to find their freedom.
“The idea of the women being employed in the stores is learning something totally new. But it is a temporary employment. A stepping stone for them to find their calling. What is their place in the world? Our mission is all about giving them a chance to find a new, different and, yes, reclaimed future.”
“We are here to remind each other that there is a Higher Power,” Marina’s passion is evident. As it is in her business, it is even more so in her ministry.
So while their staff wants to ‘design the world of your dreams’ – their connection with the ministry is about teaching everyone to design the life of your dreams, “and to someone else who might have thought that this is a piece of garbage is now a new and reborn beauty - each of our souls are beautiful and damaged and have a new and better purpose and are beautiful how we are. What more could we ask of someone?”
Her passion for her purpose is palpable.
“To take something that no one else would notice and that someone else might think is garbage and to be discarded and to be renewed and to create something so beautiful and to become something so valuable”, she continues, “and I really believe that is what the Lord does – that we are reclaimed, that we are repurposed and that we become something very different – with a purpose for good and for change and for love.”
So many are asking, how you can help. Many ways, donations always help, and shopping at the store goes directly to Reclaimed Ministries and the women in the program.
Until then and always, Marina says, “we find the beauty in the broken, the strength in the story and the reclaimed of those of us washed upon the shore – God makes those broken whole and stronger in the renewal and those of us reclaimed and that is when our true beauty and purpose shines.”