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Southside’s Stories: Jo Ann Henry

Jo Ann Henry was born October 2, 1959. About her childhood, she says her mom was verbally abusive to her; that she was never loved or hugged as a child. She dropped out of school in the Eleventh Grade but did eventually get her GED. In fact, she has now accumulated 40+ college credit hours. She said she never really knew God in her years of growing up and into her adult years. It was in her twenties when she first became addicted to street drugs. She says, "Drugs are Satan's number one player; they isolate you." She spent several years between Los Angeles and Dallas, smuggling drugs from Mexico as well as using. In one deal gone very bad she says, "I saw my partner shot to death. The gun was then put to my head; the guy pulled the trigger but the gun only clicked. It was in that instant that I remember saying, 'God, I'm coming home,' but I didn't really believe in him yet, but I guess my heart did. I still kept selling and smuggling drugs every day."

At one time, Jo Ann lived in the Salvation Army house that was across the street from the
Southside church building. She says, "The shadow of the Southside steeple used to cover our back porch each morning but it still took me six years to cross Hemphill, to get to the Southside church." After going to state prison a few times and getting out, she says, "I got busted and for the first time I actually felt relief. I did about ten years in the women's prison at Carswell here in Fort Worth, but it was during some time at the Tarrant County Jail that I first met Emily Bullock. Emily was there with some other Southside women, doing jail ministry." Jo Ann says, my bunk was uncomfortable and I saw that Emily had one of those real thick Life Recovery Bibles, but the only reason I wanted one was to use it to prop up my head, so I could sleep. But she said, "Emily had that Jesus Glow because she is a Jesus Girl and I wanted whatever it was that she had. So, I went from using a bible as my pillow to using the bible as my pillar!"

And now Jo Ann says about Southside, "My church has stood by me all the way. It has shown me the living, breathing God, and God has left me here in this world to spread the good word. She and her brother James have not seen each other face to face since September 23, 1988 but they have spoken over the phone many times and have reconciled their relationship. He is coming here to Southside in early December to see her in person. Won't that be a wonderful thing to witness! God has given us a ministry of reconciliation and it works.

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