Delivered from drugs: Mercer woman who battled addiction now running jail ministry
You could say that Diane Green is living a life of redemption.
A wife and mother, Green has a husband, Tharan, and eight kids ranging from 3 to 22 years old.
They have a Christian music ministry in Harrodsburg.
“My husband writes all the songs, basically about how we have struggled, but by the grace of God, we have overcome our struggles,” Green said. “We’re just average, ordinary people, but through God we can do extraordinary things.”
The two also run a jail ministry, something especially close to Diane’s heart, because she can relate to those inside.
“I had gotten involved in drugs in my early 20s, back in the 90s. I was involved with drugs for several years. I ended up marrying my drug dealer and stayed married to him for several years,” she said.
Eventually, despite still being married to him, she was able to get clean. She went to school, got a job, had a few children. Then he got arrested and was sent to jail.
“At that point, I felt liberated,” Green said. He had been controlling, and abusive.
But that is when she also distanced herself from church.
“Although I had been a saved Christian, involved in the church and everything, when he was gone, I backslid. I went back to hanging out in the street and doing things. For some reason, I decided I wanted to sell drugs, even though I had a job and everything,” she said.
Green had gone to a party, where she met a man who was a dealer. At the time, she thought it would be a good way to “make a little extra money.”
“At that point, I started selling drugs. I was probably 30 years old at the time,” Green said. “That was when things started to decline.”
Green was arrested. After a few weeks, she got out, but it wasn’t long before she was arrested again.
Green contacted her boss at the time. With a degree as a medical transcriptionist, she had been able to work from home, but while in jail, couldn’t work.
“My boss … he’s the one that bonded me out the second time. He never knew I had been involved in drugs. I worked from home — he just knew I was supposed to be working and I wasn’t,” she said. “I reached out to him, told what was going on in my life and that I wanted to be better. He came and bonded me out.”
While on bond, Green got pregnant.
“I knew I was going to jail and I was pregnant. My aunt agreed to take care of my baby when she was born,” she said. “I was five-and-a-half-months pregnant at final sentencing.”
Although her lawyer offered to try to get her sentence delayed until after the baby was born, Green knew she was ready to serve her time. In addition the aunt who would take care of the newborn, other family members agreed to take care of her other children.
“I have a great family,” she said.
Green was sent to the Boyle County Detention Center and then on to the Kentucky Correctional Institute for Women.
“When I was there, I was basically filled with the Holy Spirit. They have chapel, they have books, they have music. They had people who came and taught Bible study. I just immersed myself with that while I was there,” Green said. “It was an awesome thing to take part in that.”
Green became the chapel clerk while she was at the facility.
“It was a peaceful environment and I could help people,” she said.
One thing Green said she noticed while she was in jail was the number of women there for drug-related problems.
“(A) majority of the women in there are in there because they have a drug problem, they sold drugs — the charge may not have been drugs, but whatever they did was drug-related,” she said. “I was like, ‘This is crazy. These women are just thrown away because they have a problem. I want to do something about that.’”
She began imagining a program that would minister to those in jail.
Nine years ago, Green was released. She returned home, got her children back, and started life again.
“It was a few months before I had them all back. The social worker was like, ‘It’s like you all have never been apart,’” she said. “‘Those are my babies. Even when I was messing up and doing wrong, I still took care of my babies.’’
After a few years, she met Tharan Green, the man who is now her husband, on his first day in town.
“We’ve been together since. We just celebrated our six-year wedding anniversary,” she said with a smile.
“When I met him, he was a mainstream rapper. The things he was rapping — I was like, ‘Honey, you can’t do that in front of my kids,’” she said, laughing at the memory. “My mother and step-father are pastors. I was going to church; he started following me, going to church. In 2010, he got saved. At that point, he started doing Christian rap.”
They moved to Alabama for five years, then returned to Harrodsburg a year ago.
“When I lived there, I grew up spiritually, emotionally and mentally. I did a lot of growing,” she said.
While living in Alabama, they started a jail ministry, and now they run one back in Harrodsburg. Green, her mom, their assistant pastor and other ladies from their church make weekly visits to minister to the Boyle County Detention Center’s female inmates. Green’s husband has a ministry that focuses on the male inmates.
“We’re just going in there and letting them know that we love them and we want them to have a better life. My goal is to say to them, ‘Hey look, I was in this jail, right here, 10 years ago. I didn’t stay stuck in this mess,’” she said.
The ministry effort continues on the outside, working with the same women after they are released.
This year, Green connected to Ida Roberts. With a shared love for helping those affected by drugs, she quickly became involved in Roberts’ non-profit, The ASK Foundation.
“I really want to see The ASK Foundation succeed. I really want people to support it. It’s needed — desperately needed,” Green said. “She works so hard, she is basically carrying this organization on her shoulders.”
“We help people pay for treatment, transportation, counseling services,” she said. “Ida’s goal is by next year we’ll have a treatment center in Mercer County.”
Green is now the vice chairperson for the foundation’s board.
“I’m so proud to be a part of that,” she said. “With the drug epidemic in this community, you’d think more people would want to stand up and want to support something and want to sponsor this organization, but it’s not coming.”
Green is planning to create a documentary featuring recovering addicts and those involved along the way in order to highlight the drug problem in Mercer County.
Green and her husband also sing as “The Greens” — both in the jail as part of their ministry and outside in the community.
“(Music) is how we share the gospel; that’s our ministry. We have done a few local things, we’ve gone to the jail, we’ve gone to the Isaiah House; we basically just give our testimony and write songs,” Green said.
“We just really have a desire for that ministry to grow and flourish, so we can do it full-time and spread the gospel everywhere,” she said. “We had our ups and our downs. We did bad things. But God still chose to use us. We’re just thankful for everything God is doing through us.”
Follow Kendra Peek on Twitter, @knpeek.com