About Jacob’s Well

Mission Statement:

16147_1139677105211_1625937035_405566_2071322_nTo hear and respond to the heart of Christ who said; “If you have done it to the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”. It is my joy to visit the prisoners in accordance with Matthew 25:35-40.

Our purpose comes from the heart of Jesus in John 4:4

When Jesus left Judea he stated: “He must needs” go to Samaria. This does not sound proper in modern English, but in the Greek language of the day; it meant he felt a compulsion to go.

The woman he would meet was an outcast from the people of Samaria. She was a woman of “ill-repute” yet; it was this very woman he felt a compulsion to meet. This woman had no idea that she was in need of him. He would not have found her in a church, so he went to where she was, and there at Jacob’s Well, he offered to her the living water that would forever change her life.

This very purpose comes to life today.

As Jesus is proclaimed… we see the power of Christ still transforming the life of those that believe.

The heart of the ministry was birthed in the heart of Rev. DeMelo while she was still studying at World Harvest Bible College in Columbus Ohio.

She knew her heart was touched with the love of God to share his love to hurting mankind. While in school she became involved in outreaches in prisons.

Her heart was already burdened with her son’s battle with drugs and alcohol that had led him to prison. Seeing the incredible effect first hand that prison ministry had on hurting souls; Her hearts cry to God became “God, if you will bring my son out of prison…I will go in.”

He did bring her son out; and even greater, brought him to the saving knowledge of Jesus. To this day he remains drug and alcohol free. To God Be the Glory!

Sue does not do this work because she is a bored Grandmother. Sue has gone in without pay for 15 years for one purpose. She knows that God and God alone can change lives. She knows this because God found her in her pain and suffering when she was 41 . He poured his love into her hurting heart, and made her whole.

Her son Jim often said, after countless rehabs… Mom, I can write the book on alcoholism, but I cannot change myself.

There is a vacuum deep in the heart of mankind that only God can fill. Until man discovers this truth he will continue to find fulfillment in all the things that only lead to destruction.

Knowing all this, Sue’s hope is to reach as far and wide as God provides ability, to bring another soul out of darkness, into light, and into their New Beginning.

Sue’s Bio

They call her Grandma…

“I told God if he would bring my son out of prison, I would go in….He did…and I do”!

I remember the first time I heard Sue tell me that. We were sitting inher living room at our first meeting. I met Sue DeMelo at our church when Pastor Esther asked everyone to get together in groups of three and pray for one another.  As Sue prayed for both my husband and I so intently, and we held her hands, I knew there was something special about this woman. There was a leading in my spirit to find out more about her and I knew this was not just a chance encounter.  What I remember most were her eyes, a deep thoughtful blue and the wisdom conveyed in her prayer that comes along with a head full of snow-white hair.  Something about her was a tangible pretty and not only on the outside. You might call it intuition, but I sensed the inside was just as beautiful.

It was cold that morning, not frigid, just crisp. We had agreed to meet at Sue’s house at 10:00 a.m. Me being punctual, I arrived on time and I remember Sue was standing at her glass door to welcome me, wearing a red jump suit. She was cradling her three-month-old puppy; a Maltese, named “Joy”. As I entered her home, I noticed the pictures of her grown children and some of her Grandchildren on her fireplace. Sues’ home was warm, inviting and nicely decorated.  I remember looking at the walls and noticing a few plaques adorned with scriptures; not too many, just enough to remind guests that this is a Christian home.  As I had a seat and Joy began to nip at the shoelaces of my boots, Sue made us a cup of coffee and we began to converse about her amazing journey, why she gives God all the glory, and why so many call her “Grandma.”

Sue began her intriguing story at an orphanage, where the family history of alcoholism and the suicide of her Father lead her to that reality as a child.  Sue spoke of memories of Foster care and the abuse that plagued her younger years; oddly, though, as she spoke intensely about those memories, I detected not even a hint of bitterness. Sue  told  me about the birth defect in her heart that has kept her ill much of her life and as  she reached down to move her leg, which she complained was “stiff”, I could tell she was battling aging health. Even so, she conveyed not even a trace of weariness. I became even more submerged in our conversation as I asked her about when she first accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior she replied, “I first loved Jesus as a child in an orphanage but I was not taught how to live for him.” “I was 41, 6 weeks before my 42nd birthday when I heard a preacher say,” “Your sin has separated you from God.”  She said, “I literally ran to the altar to accept Jesus as Lord and my life has never been the same again”.  At that point I completely identified with Sue’s story as I too “knew “of God as a young girl but did not come to truly accept him until well into my thirties. That was yet more confirmation that our meeting was part of something much bigger than both of us were. I learned that one area that caused Sue much sorrow was the fact that since she turned her life over to Jesus much later in life, she did not teach her children of God while they were growing up. Although all four of her children are saved today, her son had been in and out of jails and prison stemming from his drug addiction. During one of his incarcerations, Sue made a vow to God that if he would bring her son out of prison, she would go in. As she tells the story, “He did… and I do!”  I learned that her experience with her son and her commitment to God is what led her to prison ministry and out reaches at Bible College in 1995. The scope of the ministry spans from Correctional Residential Centers, County Jails, and even Lansing Prison. She explained that she goes to the centers to perform church services, worship, and to preach and teach God’s word to those that have found themselves lost and forgotten.  Even more astonishing was to learn that Sue obtained her PhD at the age of 67!

Sue and I connected in many ways that morning. I identified as she talked about looking for love in all the wrong places as a young woman. I had to chuckle a bit when she spoke about how, in her early years, she would have had no problem giving “love” as we will call it, in exchange for car repairs. A few weeks later, I would hear Sue share this same story at a Correctional Facility in front of several female residents; the same connection which before, made me chuckle, brought the women residents to tears when they saw themselves in Sue’s reflection. I was eager to learn more about Sue’s work and the Jacobs Well ministry so Sue agreed to allow me to accompany her to the Johnson County Residential Center on a Saturday afternoon. I arrived at Sue’s house at about ten minutes until 4:00p.m. My initial expectation was that of anxiousness but surprisingly, I felt a strong sense of relaxation at the thought of watching Sue work. Sue greeted me at the door wearing a black velvet jumpsuit and a red leather jacket. You would have mistaken her for a corporate executive the way her make-up was properly applied and her hair was perfectly in place. That was something else Sue and I had in common, she was particular about her hair! She took along notes and it was evident that she was prepared as if she were attending an important board meeting.  Joy was happy to see me as usual and I laughed, as that little dog was so intent on untying my shoelaces. “You ready”? Sue said, “yes, whenever you are”, I replied. Sue and I casually chitchatted during our drive to New Century Kansas.  Our conversation was light and easy, which was most appropriate at the time. Looking back on it there was nothing we could have talked about during our ride that would have prepared me for the experience that day.

We arrived at the Johnson County Residential Center. A little early, we sat in the car for about 10 minutes and talked.  As we waited, I noticed several residents walking across the yard. Sue explained that they were coming back from lunch and we would have to wait until they returned to the main facility.  Sue also explained, some residents are allowed to leave the facility and work but they must return as scheduled or there will be warrants out for their arrest.  I also learned that other residents actually call the facility their home until they make restitution for their crimes. “Let’s pray”, Sue said, as she held my hand. As we bowed our heads, Sue led us in prayer asking the Lord to open the minds and hearts of the residents and gave all thanks and glory to God.

Sue, with her walking stick and me alongside her holding her CD player with worship music enclosed, made our way up the sidewalk. I noticed several men looking out of the windows at us in anticipation, like small children awaiting the arrival of a parent that has been gone much too long.  As Sue rang the buzzer, we were allowed entrance and a staff member behind the desk immediately exclaimed, a welcoming, “Hi Grandma!” Sue signed is in and we entered the room and began to set up. As I looked around and positioned myself toward the back of the room as to not create a distraction with my participation, I noticed the residents coming in. Women on the left and men on the right, they were all carrying their bibles. I thought to myself, “This is church”!

They were just regular folks like you and me. Men and women, gone astray and like many of us, find themselves in a position where there is nowhere else to turn, no one else who can fix it, but God. The floors were a slate blue tile; they reminded me of the old cafeteria floors in my High school. With many, windows allowing the light to shine in, surprisingly the facility felt open and hopeful. It was not what you think of in terms of confinement. On the wall, hung a poster, containing the names of recent graduates from the Therapeutic Community, which is affectionately called “TC”.  Sue had explained to me earlier that whenever a resident graduated from the program they were given a personalized Bible with their names inscribed.  Sue started the service by telling the residents about an experience she had earlier that day at the Gracious Promise, another sector of her prison ministry, where she saw a former graduate. “He called out to me”, “Grandma, is that you?” she said. Sue could not remember his name but she never forgets a face. He said, “Hey, I still have my bible on my top shelf at home.” Sue communicated how she was disturbed to see someone that had previously graduated from the program, back in the system.  “The top shelf isn’t where your bible needs to be”, the word needs to be in your spirit and referred to often”, she told the residents.

We started with prayer and worship music, and then Sue began her lesson titled “Watching out for red lights”. She taught on a series of scriptures and warned the residents about the importance of getting the word inside them and referring to it often. Least not, they fall back into their previous ways. I was impressed with the way everyone listened so intently while Sue covered her carefully prepared message.  She touched on Ephesians 4:27, which warns about giving a mighty foothold to the devil. At the conclusion of the first service, Sue gave an altar call asking the residents to signify by raising their hand if they wanted to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Several residents raised their hands and she prayed for them. It was then that I realized why she does this work. It was evident salvation is her mission. The residents were so appreciative of her presence. They hugged her so intently it was obvious to me they were already anticipating her visit the following week. The second service that day took place in a different building.  This group contained women only and I would later learn that these women were residents until restitution has been successfully satisfied. For some reason, I did not move to the back of the room, this time, I sat amongst the women. Only six women attended. . One woman wearing a gray sweatshirt and pigtails like a little girl, came in and asked, “Are you all Catholic?” Sue and I looked at each other and Sue replied, “There is only one Jesus.” The girl then left the room but later returned to hear Sues message. What I witnessed next was truly a move a God and I can safely say I will never be the same.  Sue did not conduct this service the same way she had the other; first, there were less people in attendance, all women. It was so personal.  We did not play worship music. No, it was more reminiscent of little girls sitting around their Grandmother splitting peas while she spewed wisdom and knowledge. As I watched Sue, I sensed that God was telling her what to say.  She spoke about the demons we all face and about the trials, she has been through in her long life. She was real, tangible and easy to understand. As she recounted her failed marriages, her shortcomings as a mother, we were in awe! I didn’t’ say a word, I couldn’t. Then Sue said to these women that were in search of an answer, in search of some sort of meaning to it all, “God is the God of restoration”, and he wants to be all you need.” “Even those battling prostitution and looking for love in all the wrong places, and then she said, “I don’t know why God wanted me to say that”. “Jesus wants to be all you need.”  As an observer, whom quickly became a participant, I can tell you the feeling in the room was so personal that it was apparent God was giving her a special message to speak directly into our lives at that very moment.

Sue spoke of many of her life experiences that evening. She offered no fancy talk, no sermon of fire and brimstone, just love in its purest form.  Sue effectively, actually one of the most effective approaches to salvation I have ever witnessed, conveyed  the redemptive power of Christ to those that needed it most.  I looked around the room and noticed that most if not all of the women, had tears in their eyes; including me. We saw ourselves in Sue’s reflection. One woman in particular, I will never forget, because of her expectant demeanor and her bright red sweatshirt. She stuck out to me because she was very thin and although she was in need of dental work, she still smiled sweetly.   After Sue performed the altar call, I cannot tell you how many women raised her hands because my head was bowed and I was praying along with everyone else; the woman in the red sweatshirt anxiously embraced Sue and whispered something in her ear. I do not know what she said to bring Sue to tears, and I will never ask. The woman in the red sweatshirt by now was crying profusely almost as if she had been stranded on a desert island and someone had come by in a boat and thrown her a line. As the woman in the sweatshirt cried she then turned to me and gave me a strong embrace, it was so strong in fact; a part of me did not want to let her go. As I tried to hold back my own emotion, the only words I could muster were, “God bless you and take care of yourself.” Sue turned to me and said, “Now you see why I do what I do”.

I could not say a word as Sue and I gathered our things and walked back to the car.  We did talk all the way home. So overcome with emotion at what I had witnessed, I held back tears for that entire ride! What I learned is that this work, this most important work that Sue does week in and week out, for absolutely no salary, is probably the single most important work I have ever had the opportunity to witness first hand in my life. She is bringing something real to people that have run out of options, for them there is no other answer.   I learned that the residents in these facilities are real people, with real problems and they have simply lost their way and most importantly, their hope. You cannot put a price tag on Sues work it is invaluable. I feel honored to say I have come to know Sue DeMelo and have had the opportunity to witness the Jacobs Well ministry first hand.

After I left Sue that night, I gave her a big hug and thanked her for
the experience. During the ride home, I kept thinking about the women in that second service and I cried my deepest cry in quite some time as I thought about how Sue touched them and they touched me.  I prayed for those women that night; that God would work a miracle in their lives, that He would sustain and bless Sue, and I thanked Him for the possibility of restoration that only He alone can offer. To God be the glory!

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