As a teenager having committed my life to Christ, I had a beloved mentor and friend from church named Betty. She knew that I had a calling upon my life and would frequently tell me about another young lady that she knew God called into the ministry. She was so proud of this young woman and spoke of her fondly and often. She eventually shared with me that her beloved “minister friend” name Alicia had a baby and afterwards suffered a debilitating stroke. Betty and I prayed often for this young women that I never met. However, I always remembered her story and it inspired me to keep going and being faithful in ministry.
Approximately thirty years later as I sat in a workshop in Chicago, Illinois, a beautiful woman walking with a cane entered the room. I listened in amazement as she introduced herself as “Rev. Dr. Alicia Malone from Akron, Ohio (my home town).” Could this be Betty’s “Alicia?” I couldn’t stand the suspense one minute longer. “Do you have a friend named Betty that lives in Akron, Ohio? Did you suffer a stroke after having a baby?” I asked. “Yes!” I told her that she did not know me, but I’d heard of her many years ago and her story helped to keep me going forward in ministry. Today I am privileged to share her courageous, miraculous and inspirational story on Shepastor. Praise God for His wonderful healing power, grace, mercy, peace and restoration!
Shepastor Interview with
The Reverend Dr. Alicia J. Malone
Founder and Executive Director
Bondage Breakers, Inc.
When did you first “hear” a call to the ministry and how long was it before you were licensed?
I always loved the church and the work of the ministry. People frequently said that I had a call on my life, but I was not trying to go there! I ignored the call.
In July 1980 I had my son. Eight days later, I experienced a cranial aneurysm and four strokes. My family was told that I would only survive 24 hours. I lay comatose until September 2nd, 1980.
I remember waking up as they were transferring me to the rehabilitation center. The only thing I could remember about the place I was being transferred to was that it was a sanitarium. I thought my family was putting me away forever. At Edwin Shaw Rehabilitation Center, I had to learn how to walk, talk, and care for myself all over again, at age 27. The entire process took 2 years and 4 months. Even though I had graduated from Akron University in 1976 with an Associates Degree, I had to begin the learning process at the 4th grade level. This was very humiliating – being a college graduate and a professional. I had a wonderful job, flying all over the country as a Nuclear Component Correspondent. I was administrating contracts for the Untied States Navy. But God said, you have given man enough of your time and energy – I am going to get glory out of your life!
God “accosted me,” re-routed me and got my attention! He did not just get my attention in 1980 – He got my total allegiance forever!
I first heard the call to ministry in 1989 after attending an American Baptist Church Women’s Conference. On the way home the lady riding with me had fallen asleep. I was thinking about all that I had heard, which was very good. I was fully active in the missionary ministry at that time.
I heard a voice say, “I’m calling you to ministry.” I looked around and started calling the passenger. She was sleeping and indicated that “ she didn’t say anything.”
She advised me to go and talk to my Pastor. That was in June in 1989. It was the start of something beautiful and burdensome.
It was beautiful because God had called me. It was burdensome because women were not being accepted into ministry at that time. I was the first woman responding to the call at that church.
How did your pastor respond ?
I shared my call experience with him. He said, in an effort to discourage me, “If the Lord spoke, He also told you what kind of ministry. That was his way of responding without affirming my calling. He said, “Since you don’t know what the Lord is calling you to, go back and ask the Lord where is He calling you to serve.”
Since I was not trying to get up into the pastorate, I didn’t talk about the call for two years. I did not say another word. I continued doing the work of the ministry. I wasn’t discouraged, and continued singing in the choir, work in the missionary society, work in jail and prison ministry.
At the start of the Gulf war, pastor called an all out prayer vigil for men and women in the service. I went to support the men and women. As I entered, I heard God say, “Remind Pastor Kemp of My calling of you.” I said, “Lord, get off of my shoulder – It’s been two years – I’m not thinking about it (the call)!”
But I went to the pastor and asked him if he remembered our previous conversation. He said yes. He began the process of licensure. I had to sit before the deacons. All but one confirmed and affirmed my gifts and calling and wanted me to be licensed.
How long after that were you ordained?
I was licensed June, 1991 and was ordained in 1995.
You have a passion for Prison Ministry. How did you become so deeply involved in prison ministry?
In 1982 I started Moody Bible Institute. From Moody, I began working in the Summit County jail for the GED program. I believe that it was pre-ordained. I have an older brother who spent 95% of his life incarcerated beginning at age 7.
I asked myself, what kind of God would take a broken vessel like me and put me back together again? My search has always been, “who is this God?” At the prompting of my Pastor, I went to the McCreary Theological Center for Black church studies. This was uncomfortable because I spent most of my life around white folks.
Tell me about your ministry – Bondage Breakers Inc.
Bondage Breaker’s, Inc. is borne out of my love for God and the broken in our midst. Its purpose and goal has always been to provide a “safety net” for those coming out of incarceration and/or confinement. BBI is in it’s 20th year, as of November 1st and has not lost it’s desire or compulsion to minister to “the least of these my brethren…Mt. 25:36ff.” It began in my basement, moved to Mt. Olive in 1996, three years later we moved to our current location. The movement represents God’s constant approval of His servant and the charge laid before her. (in my opinion)
What words of advice would you give to female clergy desiring to enter the prison ministry?
Be certain that “God is calling you!” Lay before the Lord and like Eli told Samuel to do, “Speak LORD, thy servant is listening.” I’d admonish women to not give up their femininity, by emulating the male pastors or persona, but “be who God has called you to be.” If God has called you to a specific arena, “occupy till he comes.” When discouragement, criticisms, doubt and fears arise, “Look unto the hills from which cometh all your help…Ps. 121:1.” God sees you, us, and he knows what he desires to do with each of us. “Let God have his way!”
How can interested individuals contact you?
They can reach me by calling 330-867-2325 home/330-701-0576 cell or contact the office of Bondage Breakers, Inc. at 330-376-6245. If all else fails send an email to: email@example.com I would love to hear from you all! Blessings and peace be upon you all!
Thanks Pastor Chris! Love abides and abounds!
What a powerful story! God “got the attention” of Dr. Alicia and she has dedicated her life to serving the Lord with gladness, “forever more!” She now gives unselfishly of herself on a daily basis, seeking to encourage, lift, support and advocate for individuals who have entered the prison system, providing during and aftercare ministry. What is your life’s calling? Has God “gotten your attention?” We want to hear from you! Post a comment or send us an email at Shepastor1@hotmail.com
Until next Wednesday,
In faith, hope and perseverance,