By Kayla Lutes, Contributing Writer
To many on campus, Tracy Osburn is known for her involvement with parking permits and often-debated parking tickets. But for the past two years, I have spent no less than thirty minutes a week in the health clinic for allergy shots. The bubbly laughter that characterizes each of her conversations indicates her warm personality and her passion for individuals.
During one of my first visits to the clinic for allergy shots this year, I was privy to another one of Osburn’s missions. Alerted to the story of a young woman who had suffered abuse all her life on the news, Osburn took it upon herself to contact Aurora (name changed) and minister to her. Aurora had suffered abuse from multiple stepbrothers, stepfathers and her mother’s boyfriends. The abuse caused her to shut down, and she developed mental illnesses at a young age.
“No one ever rescued her,” said Osborn. “She had mental problems early on that no one had addressed. She never had anyone to help her.”
Aurora was living with her grandparents, trapped and alone, so she set the house on fire, walked away and called the police in an attempt to rescue herself. Aurora was 15 years old at the time and stayed in a juvenile facility until she was 18—when she was charged for double homicide for the death of her grandparents and moved to the county jail.
Osburn watched Aurora’s aunts on the news discussing what Aurora had done to their parents and verbally attacking her. Osburn said the song “Flawless” by MercyMe came to her mind as she watched the exchange. “Between that song and the picture of her aunts degrading her on the news, it just didn’t add up,” Osburn said. That was enough to convince Osburn to take action. “I just had to make sure that she knew that Jesus loved her, and He was going to love her through this.”
She called the county jail and asked if she could meet Aurora.
“Now we’re friends,” Osburn said. “I could put my hand up on the glass like this.” Osburn raised her hand up flat like a mime trapped in a box. “She would put her hand right there because that’s the closest to good physical contact that she had probably ever made with anyone.”
When asked if she made any excuses before taking action, Osburn said, “I can’t. When Jesus says to do something, I just go on and do it. It’s easier to just get in the car and go on. ‘Cause He doesn’t leave me alone.”
Since then, Aurora has been moved to a women’s prison in Louisville, and Osburn waits anxiously for the day when she is cleared to hug Aurora. She will be able to visit with her face to face and spend hours talking and eating meals out of a vending machine.
“Flawless” was playing on the radio in the clinic, and Osburn told me how the song reminded her of Aurora. Osburn had written the words to Aurora in a letter, letting her know that “the cross has made you flawless.”
She [Osburn] wants to see more “homegrown missionaries” who stay in the U.S. and go into prisons to share the grace of God with the people there.
Osburn wants to see others come alongside her to take action on Aurora’s behalf and the behalf of others like her. She wants to see more “homegrown missionaries” who stay in the U.S. and go into prisons to share the grace of God with the people there. Osburn’s passion for homegrown ministries has led her to create a website called Peace at the Cross, and she would love for students to be involved with the website — sharing stories of victory and being available to pray for those in seasons of struggle. She has also offered to go with anyone who was interested in volunteering with local organizations such as the Hope Center and Arbor Youth Services.
“I want her to finish high school,” Osburn said of her hopes for Aurora, going on to list the opportunities she has to receive schooling while in prison. Osburn wishes to continue helping people and pursuing missional work in all areas of life. “Being the crazy old lady that loves Jesus isn’t such a bad thing to be,” she said.
If you would like to join Osburn in her ministry you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.