Midlife Musings

A blog by John W. Kennedy


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Ministering in the Wake of Tragedy

By John W. Kennedy | April 21, 2009

naomi-mom-debbie.jpgNaomi Knoles is serving a 10-year prison term for murdering her baby. The September 2003 tragedy caught her parents John and Doris off guard. They had sensed that their backslidden daughter was stressed and tired, but they didn’t have a clue that she had slipped into a psychotic state, during which she would smother her eight-month-old daughter, Anna Marie.

John and Doris faced the overwhelming crisis by maintaining their faith. That’s not to say they didn’t have a lot of still-unanswered questions or that they didn’t shed a great many tears.

I had the opportunity to interview Naomi for 2½ hours where she is incarcerated at a women’s prison west of Phoenix. She has rededicated her life to the Lord and is on proper medication. When I visited, she seemed out of place. She is intelligent, articulate, sweet and zealous for the Lord. Naomi isn’t a danger to society; she never abused her child before snapping that one fateful day.

The Knoles have another child, Mark, who is art director at Phoenix First Assembly of God. That this family has emerged from unimaginable heartbreak to continue in ministry is a victory for God and them. When Naomi gets out of prison in another four years — or less — she wants to help other women escape the loneliness and isolation that plagued her.

You can read an in-depth account of Naomi in next Sunday’s issue of Today’s Pentecostal Evangel in our annual Key Bearers edition.

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Topics: prison |

2 Responses to “Ministering in the Wake of Tragedy”

  1. Holly Says:
    April 21st, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    Thank you for telling Naomi’s story!

  2. Patsyellen Vaught Says:
    April 23rd, 2009 at 7:50 am

    I want you to know that I will be praying for you and I appreciate you telling this story.