Words of Hope

By Carol Kent, March 24, 2020

In the past couple of weeks our lives have been turned upside-down due to the unanticipated invasion of COVID-19. I’ve seen empty shelves, anxious parents, fear of the future, loss of retirement funds, “social distancing,” temporary job loss (especially for my speaker/musician friends who’ve had their next three months of engagements cancelled or postponed while their bills remain constant), stressed people dealing with at-risk family members, and so much more.

So how do we hold on to hope?

1. Fear not.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10). Most of us feel less financially secure and more anxious about the future—but be encouraged—God has promised to help us.

2. Maintain a sense of humor. 
“A merry heart does good, like medicine…” (Prov. 17:22). Find the splashes of joy in each day. A friend wrote: “Our younger son works for Apple and yesterday they had a Zoom call with his entire team. One young woman who was not familiar with Zoom didn’t realize that since she had her front-facing camera on, they could see her just like she could see the leader. She actually carried the phone with her into the bathroom and used the commode before realizing to her horror that her actions were visible to her coworkers. Simultaneously several said, “I didn’t see that!” It was hysterical. That young woman probably hopes the quarantine will last a very long time. 

3. Be kind and forgiving to each other. 
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).  Gene and I co-wrote a book on marriage with Dave & Cindy Lambert called, “Staying Power:  Building a Stronger Marriage When Life Sends Its Worst.”  Today I found myself a little critical of my husband when he suggested that with all my extra time, I might want to clean out my closet.  Before lashing out, I stopped, realizing we need to choose our words carefully. I said, “That’s a good idea!”  We’re working hard at being “unoffendable” amid the tension of this unanticipated challenge.

4. Serve others. 
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). Look for the “one thing” you can do for someone else who needs help worse than you do.  For us, it’s caring for the needs of Gene’s 91-year-old mother and her 80-year-old companion. Buy a bag of groceries for someone in need or send a text message of encouragement to a single parent.  Serving others reduces our pain and increases our joy.

What’s happening with us and with Speak Up Ministries?

~ In anticipation of the current crisis being over, we’re currently planning to go ahead with the Speak Up Conference on July 9-11 in Grand Rapids, MI.  If you’ve always wanted to attend, you’ll find that airfares are lower than ever, and if there would be a need to postpone this equipping event due to directives from the CDC, airlines aren’t charging change fees and they’re allowing you to apply costs to a future flight. Register now, knowing that your fee is refundable or transferable to a future Speak Up Conference.

~ We’re currently booking speaking engagements for the fall of 2020 and into 2021.  Contact me here.  I’d love to speak at your event.

~ There is no visitation allowed for Florida inmates due to COVID-19 for the foreseeable future.  That means our son, Jason, would be blessed to hear from you.  If you can send a card, letter, or word of encouragement, remember you can only enclose up to 20 first-class stamps, up to ten pictures, or up to ten blank cards and envelopes that he can use to write to others or share with other inmates. If you send multiple cards, they can’t be in a padded envelope and metal clasps aren’t allowed. Dollar Store cards are the best because cards can’t have anything glued to them—funny cards are appreciated. Mail is a lifeline and Jason will share with others. Here’s the address:

Jason P. Kent X26713
Desoto Annex Correctional Institution
13617 S. E. Hwy 70
Arcadia FL 34266

Question:  How are you finding creative ways to stay mentally, physically, or spiritually strong during this time period?  If it’s been a struggle, please comment on how we can pray for you.


  1. Gloria on March 24, 2020 at 3:38 pm

    There is no way I can express how your book he holds my hand has enabled me to survive the last 4 years of life bringing its worst. Also there is no book that I have bought more copies of than that book. What a Ministry it has been to so many

  2. Doyle on March 25, 2020 at 8:09 am

    Nanci felt a real burden to check in with the Salvation Army. It turns out all food out reach programs in our city except the SA have been closed down. Additionally SA food sources such as ready to eat bakeries and coffee shops have gone to limited production of goods so there is no excess and food sources for SA have dried up. When Nanci called, the request was for PB&J sandwiches. We have seen families involve grand kids to make sandwiches; single moms make them…there were even two ladies celebrating a birthday that got together and made sandwiches. My truck smells like a peanut butter jar but it is a fragrant reminder to help the most helpless in our society. Call your local SA and see what they need. You will be blessed and humbled at the same time. A great lesson for kids…and adults.

  3. Susan Stephenson on March 25, 2020 at 8:27 am

    Dearest Carol,
    Thank you so much for these on time blessed Words if encouragement.
    We too have a Son in Prison, Juan is his name. Colorado visits have also been cancelled. Please pray for Juan, and the other brothers in Christ serving time there. The Minisry that goes in there to do services is cancelled as well.
    Also my husband and I are working from home and we need prayer to relate to each other in a better way. Need to be more open about financial planning without anger.
    Thank you. Blessings on your entire family! Susan

  4. Mary Yapp on March 25, 2020 at 8:38 am

    As I listened a week ago to all of the factors of COVID-19, my first thought raced to Jason and your family. “Oh NO! No more Sunday visits for Carol, Gene and Jason.”

    While we are hunkered down here in MN, my husband and I both back to back during the day trying to work from home, our 18 year old adult daughter trying to reign in her anxiety and adapt to being under our roof again as her college campus has closed and online classes will begin next week, and our 11 year old son with autism is going from a very structured day to a 3 week spring break as teachers switch their lesson plans and prepare for remote/ distance learning beginning next week, it gets a little nutty, tense and chaotic here, and then I think, “I am blessed to have my family under my roof”.

    Prayers for patience and calm in our household as we try to remember to have grace with each other would definitely be appreciated. I am hoping soon, I will not be absolutely exhausted at the end of the day so I can dig into the books I purchased from you when you were at Shepherd of the Valley last fall.

  5. Patty Calabrese on March 25, 2020 at 9:05 am

    Thank you for the great words of encouragement – stay strong and well

  6. Ruth Gray on March 25, 2020 at 9:06 am

    I was praying for you (plural) and your son yesterday as the Lord led me. I will write to Jason this week. When I saw your message online this morning, I just knew that you would have words of encouragement for all of us. Thank you both, Gene and Carol, for your ministry and words of hope and blessing from our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Psalm 46 : 7 The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.

  7. Martha Kruger on March 25, 2020 at 9:09 am

    Still working at the hospital as a Nurse Aide and in home care. It all doesn’t seem real. Maybe partly cuz I’m still able to work? And I live in a building where many elderly live who already stay home!I have wondered how this affects prisoners. Rough,with no visits☹️. What I kind of like is no rush hour traffic… Maybe we all need a regular spring break, just not quite so long.I heard the virus doesn’t like heat such as 80 degree temps? I watch Arthelene alot and always enjoy your visits! Love In Christ, marlou5715@gmail.com

  8. Sondra on March 25, 2020 at 9:45 am

    Thank you for your devotional! Encouraging words in difficult times are rewarding to the entire body.

  9. Tamatha Jackson on March 25, 2020 at 10:05 am

    I can’t shake the feeling that this is it for us. I’m scare that I won’t get to see my son, he’s out in California while out here in North Carolina. Help to not catastrophize everything that goes wrong in my life. Please give me a sound mind and a pure heart. Thank you for this opportunity.

  10. Linda Daniel on March 25, 2020 at 10:18 am

    Thank you Carol. As a single Mom with an only child incarcerated, these are tough days. I am taking care of myself ok but now have additional worry about my Son. And not being able to make the monthly or bi weekly visits just makes it worse. Thank God both of us have a strong Faith & that is what we hang on to so dearly. We are inTexas. I cannot send him stamps & they have recently stopped us from sending cards which makes NO sense to me :(. I just pray the guards don’t take this virus inside because I do NOT have faith in the system to do what is needed to take care of those who get ill. And as I quickly reach my 75th birthday, my Son will reach his 56th. God help us all God Bless You & your family! Linda Daniel 1405 Rockmoor Dr Ft Worth Tx 76134 & Son Randall Jordan # 1672271 TDCJ Allred Unit 2101 FM 369 North, Iowa Park, Tx 76367 PS I have your book WaitingTogether…Thank You

  11. Trudy Chittick on March 25, 2020 at 10:28 am

    Hi Carol, Appreciate you wonderful encouraging words today. I am Trudy…we sat together at MBC 2 years ago and I brought my friend Martha..a new Christian..what a blessed memory and spiritual refreshment. Her husband had left her with 2 kids..1 being handicapped. I continue to encourage her. We both would appreciate your prayers. My 1 grandson Zach is in Germany and not home yet. He is Canadian…his job folded at a restaurant, his Christian friends are helping him..what to do as the virus is spreading rapidly there. He is trusting the Lord. Also, my nephewJon has mental health issues, recently claimed he is a homosexual, was abused as a child and insists his Mom and Dad (my bro) are like Nazis because we believe the Bible..he burned his Dad’s Bible..he screams,swears,says he sees demons and has paranoia..we are becoming afraid of him actually at times but we love on him as much as he will let us. He comes back when he needs shelter or funds and is nice for awhile. We need prayer and God’s help.
    We are praying for you and all ministries as well as dear Jason. I am involved in New Life Prison ministry and we are holding on at Arva Ont…(north of London) and sending out 1700 Bible studies monthly all across Canada. We will be Lord willing planning a fall dinner as well as something next spring. We may be able to use you if you should be available. I am hoping to see you at MBC in the spring if the Ladies conference goes ahead..do you know if it has been cancelled? Praying for you Carol (and Gene and Jason) and the girls and family. Trudy Chittick

  12. Joyce Van Wyk on March 25, 2020 at 10:31 am

    Thank you Carol. Jason, Gene and you are in my thoughts and prayers. “Fear Not” spoken often by our Savior is a beautiful reminder. He knows how easily we can fall into the trap of “fear.”
    Thanking God for your ministry, may you be safe and forever blest.
    Pray, ….Pray,……Pray

  13. Rosie J Williams on March 25, 2020 at 11:40 am

    Continuing with routines when possible. Getting dressed as if going to work. Diving into regular FaceBook live posts as I pray for direction on how much to spend to boost those posts. Each day, I’m praying God will show me my assignment from Him. It’s been exciting to see Him lead me in unexpected ways. One thing I know for sure. Now is the time to put my faith in action, show love and forebearance to others, and proclaim the Gospel, ie, Speak Up With Confidence as I learned from you years ago ❤️

  14. Mary Clark on March 25, 2020 at 11:41 am

    Same here not being able to see my son its complicatex he was beat up by correctional officers while at a drug treatment through ny correctionakl nowo in a max. Sercurity prison he was suppose be out 3o1 but since incident now they gave him 6 more months but there is no movement now he has to stay where he is at was suppose to go to med. Afraid it will get into prisons ny bad right now Please pray for him name is Jeremy

  15. Kellie Turnage on March 25, 2020 at 11:45 am

    So encouraging! Col 3:12-17 was really encouraging this morning in He Holds My Hand!

  16. Ann H Aschauer on March 25, 2020 at 11:52 am

    I had to laugh at Gene’s suggestion. I have been cleaning out closets and bookcases, and in the process have come across things I had thought were lost forever! I have been “sidetracked” by finding and reading old journals, but after the initial shock that the self-centered drama queen that wrote that drivel was actually ME, I was blessed at realizing how much I had grown in the past few decades. Daily growth has been imperceptible, so it was a blessing to have the Lord SHOW me how far I’ve come. (Still have quite a ways to go, though. :/ )

  17. Holly on March 25, 2020 at 12:06 pm

    Carol, I, too have a son, Ryan, in prison where no visitation is allowed. I feel your pain!!! I’ve been using this time to draw even closer to God through worship, prayer, and reading His Word. I’m also praying for another great awakening of the hearts of men and women throughout the world. Jeremiah 7, but mostly verse 13 says, “ 13 You also have done all these things, says the Lord , and I have spoken to you over and over again. But you have not listened! You have refused to respond when I called you to repent!” I’m praying that God will use my sin to be the light in the darkness of those prison walls.

  18. Elizabeth Molina on March 25, 2020 at 12:10 pm

    Hi Carol,
    Thank you for your words of encouragement! My pastor, Mike Newman, has registered me for your conference in July. I am hoping and praying that it does not get canceled as I have been looking forward to going! This was the first time that it worked out for me to go. I pored and prayed over every session I should register for. I am working on my ‘homework’ for the conference during this time of quarantine as well as trying to fit in more writing. With four kids all needing to be homeschooled and having to learn a ton of new technology I am busier than I was before with their crazy activity schedule. I am thankful for this time to rest, relax, recharge and reconnect with my family on a deeper level. Also, my oldest is determined to get us all in shape! If you would like to read my book Pieces of My Heart (self-published), during this time of quarantine I would be happy to send you a copy. Pastor Newman says the best part is the foreword written by him! Ha! God’s blessings to you and yours!

  19. Leisa McDonald on March 25, 2020 at 12:22 pm

    Hi Carol,

    Thank you for this word today! Great reminder in the midst of chaos and anxiety. Was already considering the Speak Up conference and will be looking at airfare today as I am likely in a career shift. Pray for wisdom and discernment with decisions and next steps.

    Thank you again for your words of encouragement and the work you do to lift up so many!

  20. AnnMarie Belanger on March 25, 2020 at 12:42 pm

    Carol the other day I was having a pity party because although I can see our family and grandkids we can’t hug them and need to keep the appropriate distance
    Then I thought if you and how you have to visit your son in the penitentiary and that was a wake up call for me

  21. Ralaine Fagone on March 25, 2020 at 1:12 pm

    This time has presented its self, in my life, as an inconvenient opportunity. I knew how to silence fear by not giving it an opportunity whisper. But fear got past my defenses and subtly talked about the dooming future and chaos that maybe a breath away. Fear laid its final hold when I heard, “You’ll never see James again.” Those words, that lie, gripped my heart and caused my once guarded fortress to crumble.
    You see…I live in Montana. James is in California. Incarcerated. Outside visits have stopped. I was told one inmate has tested positive for the virus. Could every inmate contract this flu and die? The unknown took me for a ride through a valley of death, dread and fear.
    THEN, Father pulled me back to the basics of His life giving instruction found in Matthew 6:24 “Don’t worry about tomorrow. Keep your eyes on Me.” Slowly my fortress is gaining renewed strength. I’m thankful this time caused me to re-examine my spiritual life and walk with my Messiah.
    I’m asking Father, to use my middle of May plane ticket to see James again. I’d appreciate your prayer team’s added prayers. Thank you, Carol for your ministry. I hope to give comfort to those I come in contact, while at the prison, like you do. Blessings to you and your family. I will drop your son a note. I know how the value of mail to the imprisoned.

  22. Ginger Shaw on March 25, 2020 at 2:43 pm

    Good to hear your ‘voice’… comforting and encouraging. In the anti human trafficking community here in SoCalifornia we have been ZOOMing… face to face meetings that keeps us connected when we can’t be together. Our focus is on helping the survivors and their children that don’t have the resources (stable housing, transportation, computers to continue education, toys, diapers, etc). One in an hotel room with 5 children! Our amazing service providers are coming up with creative ways to provide stress and mental health activities… online support groups. Learning new technology… thinking of innovative ways to serve.
    I’ve prayed for J.P. daily … social distancing :(!

  23. Brenda L. Yoder on March 25, 2020 at 6:14 pm

    So good to hear. Your words of laughter is a breath of fresh air! I am sad you cannot visit Jason. I know that’s got to be hard. Much love to both of you, my friends!

  24. belinda bylund on March 25, 2020 at 6:14 pm

    Keeping up with walking 3 miles most days plus doing Splendid Barre classes on line. Totally understand of challange with being with my husband of 32 years as my dental office is closed till June 15. So used to my fullfilling job as a Dental Hygienist and relationships with co workers and long time patients. Carol I have your book He Holds Me by My Hand and gives me strength daily. Will send Jason a card this week. Blessings Belinda heard you speak in Corvallis OR also have your I Lay My Issac Down

  25. Belinda Fritzinger Bylund on March 25, 2020 at 6:14 pm


  26. Susan Gruener on March 25, 2020 at 10:39 pm

    Hi Carol,
    Thanks for this great email. This is definitely good advice here! And it seems I am adhering to most of it! 😉 I definitely don’t have any fear of what’s going on in the world today. I have complete trust in the Lord and that He’s going to use this for the Kingdom. I’ve already seen so much good that has come about out, having to “shelter in place” or whatever each state is calling it, although quite a burden for many! I’m a grandma but have no fear of the future and am taking my 89 year old friend groceries.
    Although I’m 21 years younger, visiting with her and chatting about what God is doing, and talking about Heaven and Visions and things to come are rather exciting!

    My two grown daughters (although both know the Lord) are asking more questions about the prophecies in the Bible so we text each other about that, as well as send each other great humorous memes that keeps us laughing. Laughter is good medicine not only for the physical body but also for the soul! Others are more open to listening to God and I’m trying to witness to others why I have peace about what we are going through.

    I’m also spending more time in prayer… praying for the Lord to destroy this virus, praying for our President and leaders, and praying for our older generation that God would protect them and keep them safe. I’m also praying for protection over our health care workers, first responders, and praying for our economy. I know God is faithful and hears our prayers!

    I’m praying for Jason’s protection too and all those in confinement. I sent Jason a card a few months ago and need to send another one. I’m still praying for his release too. He’s been on my heart ever since you came to my town of Klamath Falls, Oregon and shared your story and message. It has been several years, but it impacted me greatly. I have two of your books, but need to purchase the others you have written since.
    I’m praying for you and Gene!
    May you be abundantly blessed!

  27. Jeanie on March 25, 2020 at 11:22 pm

    We , husband and wife are doing great. Were use to being home and working around the house. I do always ask for prayer for our 23 year old grandson. 19 when he went to prison. I cant think of anything worse then having him gone from us. I guess not knowing where he is would be worse so thank God we do know right where he is. Alway ask for prayers for him. Always miss him. Thank you, Jeanie /Nana.

  28. Diana Richert on March 26, 2020 at 2:25 am

    Thank you for your encouraging words Carol!
    I became ill two days ago and was tested for
    Covid-19 today. I should know in 48 hours.

    My heart goes out to your son, Jason during this very
    difficult and lonely time of not being able to have visitors.
    I will be praying for him!

  29. rita Ford on March 26, 2020 at 8:04 pm

    Oh Carol, Rita Ford here from Illowa davenport Iowa….i will sent Jason’s address on to the girls…
    thanks for your wise words, I just don’t want to miss what God would have me to learn through this one…
    So grateful to be One Nation Under God….love is never cancelled….God bless and keep you well. We can’t touch each other with our hands but you touched my heart with your words. thank you…

  30. Donna Eisenbach on March 27, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    As the Church we’ve been given an opportunity to SHINE for Christ!!!! That means ALL of the church even the ones Christ so loves behind the bars!!!

  31. Connie Kearn on March 27, 2020 at 7:33 pm

    Hello, Carol, I met you and appreciated your speaking to us at Topeka Bible Church women’s retreat several years ago. We all love you and your sister, Jenny, who came twice to minister to us.
    I, too, have a 46 year old son in prison. As I visited with him last week, I told him that he has become the man I prayed for him to be for 46 years. So true!! His response, “Mom, thank God and thank Him for putting me in prison. He has changed my life, my heart, and is caring for my five daughters and three grandchildren. I am blessed and sharing Jesus with many of these men I live with and love because of Jesus!” He blesses my heart and lifts me up with other believers there in Illinois. We miss him! We’ll most likely be with the Lord before Jonathan returns home. Thank you, Lord, for caring for our sons daily! I do pray for Jason as well. Thank you for you books and all who are helped from your words!
    Connie Kearn

  32. Rebecca Gillean on March 28, 2020 at 12:38 pm

    Thank you for your comments..pray for my son. He is in coffield unit in Texas. He had parole hearing yesterday….do not know results as of yet. He plans to go to Life Challenge…Christian treatment cenrer..It is sponsored by First Assembly of God Church. I am a member of First Assembly of God Church. Pray for my entire family
    Thank you

  33. Ruth on March 29, 2020 at 12:09 am

    I hope that Jason and others in prison will be kept safe as the virus spreads. May God bless you and your ministry through this strange time.

  34. Bev DeSalvo on March 30, 2020 at 11:14 pm

    Thanks so much for this update. I’m praying for you and your family. I can’t imagine how hard it is to not be able to see Jason.

    I’m going through my book, Return to Joy, with Linda Strom and the women in white in Gatesville. At least, I was. Now we’re all taking a caronavirus break. I am praying for Jason and the other men and women in prison. May God’s peace flow over them in the midst of this storm.

    Sending love and hugs from Texas.

  35. Gloria Quinn on April 14, 2020 at 11:48 am

    Hi Carol,

    Thank you for your words of hope during these difficult times. I’m inspired daily when I read He Holds my Hand devotional.
    I wanted so badly to attend Speak Up again this year, but since the virus I’m jobless and one of my twin son’s is jobless. What I saved to attend ,I’m using for rent and necessities. I am just so thankful for you and Gene and Bonnie. You are all amazing followers of Christ.
    I would like to ask you if there is any way you could publish my son’s address for others to write him while he’s incarcerated. O know he also would be blessed to hear from others seeing I’m unable to visit. I would very much appreciate if you could post it.
    His address is…
    Steven Krzanowski
    ADC #264647
    Arizona State Prison Complex
    Unit M 124U
    Safford, Arizona 85546

    Thank you!
    Blessings and love to you all,

    Gloria Quinn
    Romans 8:31 If God is for us then who can be against us¡

  36. Ana on April 23, 2020 at 12:06 pm

    Your interview on James Robinson’s TV show “Life Today” was incredible. You have such an amazing testimony. COVID-19 has been no different than my daily life since an injury in 2014. That was followed by severe health problems to the extent that I really haven’t left home in years, other than to go to a doctor appointment or the grocery store- no church, no games or movies or coffee dates or anything else. My husband has been very angry with me for all the money that my health has required. He calls me broken down so he goes on and lives his life- he goes on trips and goes to games and sporting events and goes out of town without me. So, to me COVID-19 is just another day.