As I entered the year 2017, someone ask me: “What do you see happening in your life this year?” My response was “I feel that the Lord is going to do something new”. I really had no idea what it would possibly be! Just a few days into the new year, the Lord brought this verse to me… “Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture”, Psalm 100:3. I love this verse. It has such a special place in my heart now. I have gone back to it several times throughout the course of this year. It is such a beautiful reminder to me that I do not belong to myself. I am the Lord’s. He has made me. So if I am His, shouldn’t I be living my life for Him?
In the previous months I had been staying fairly busy helping with different care-giving needs in the neighborhood, but when the new year arrived, they came to an abrupt stop. I wasn’t needed anymore. What was I to do now? The first six months I pretty much was at home helping out on the farm. At times, I asked the Lord, “Is this really the new thing you have for me in life?” I can now say that I am grateful for those six months. The Lord used that time to strengthen my relationship with Him in so many ways. I found a new love for His Word. A deeper desire to know more of His heart for me. I have seen the power of answered prayer and restored relationships. Honestly, I have seen more of who Jesus is! He is so amazing.
God used that time to prepare me for these last 5 months. They have brought so many amazing opportunities to serve Him. In March, Faith asked me about going to the Prisons in Florida in October with her. I thought this idea sounded so neat! I had heard so much about prison ministry and I wanted to experience it for myself. I ask my parents what they thought of me going on this missions trip. They encouraged me to seek the Lord about it, and that they would be seeking His direction as well. Within a few weeks the Lord had given me very clear direction through His Word that I was to go. I shared with my parents what the Lord had revealed to me. They weren’t as sure as I was! They told me they didn’t think they wanted me to go.
I suddenly wondered “why Lord would you lead me and not my authorities?” But I trusted that my parents knew best and I was very content with their decision. I knew God must just have something else that He wants me to be doing with my life. It was completely out of my mind until one day in July, my Dad came to me and ask if I still would like to go serve in the prisons. Yes, I certainly did! Then began the amazing journey that I would love to tell you about!
Before going to prison, I had a formed idea in my mind of what all prisoners were like…Cold hearted, sad, lonely, unforgiving, only thinking of themselves, the list goes on…… How do you think of those behind prison walls? I am here to tell you differently! During the two weeks I spent with the inmates, their lives taught me so much about genuine love for one another, joy, forgiveness, self-sacrifice, etc. Several of the women in the prison we were in the first week have personal relationships with Jesus Christ. It was an incredible sight to see when they all came together to study more about our KING and LORD! The way they live their lives has been an inspiration to me. If one of them was having a difficult day, she was not going to be going through it alone. She was going to be surrounded by loving ladies who would offer her encouragement and pray over her. When adversity would arise in the prison, you could see and hear women all over in our classroom praying and petitioning the Lord for His mercy on their behalf. I want to have this kind of dependence and faith in Jesus Christ!
One morning as Faith and I were setting up and preparing for the day of teaching, two of the inmates came in early and we were visiting with them. Then they asked if they could pray for us right there on the spot. Wow! That was so amazing we were incredibly blessed. Even though these ladies are in prison, they are serving Jesus with all of their heart. What a beautiful example of Jesus working in and through our lives wherever we are… when we are yielded to Him.
What did God show me during this time spent with these precious ladies? They are just like me and you. Some are younger and some older. They all have families and those they love. They all have interests, talents, and dreams for their future. They are no more sinful then me just because they are in prison… all sins are equal in that they separate us from God. (Romans 3:23). God meets with His children wherever we are. Praise the Lord for loving us so unconditionally! Please be praying with me for the lives of our brothers and sisters in prison all across the world. God loves them just as much as He loves you and the person sitting beside you in church on Sunday morning!