I’m not one to watch the news often, just ask my husband. All this turmoil and pain in the world puts such a heavy burden on my heart and I just can’t stand the weight of it. Plus, I feel like the news has a sly way of instilling additional fear in our minds. My husband, however, stays updated and keeps me posted on the things I “should” know. The last time I remember watching the news from beginning to end was a while ago. A man was being taken to prison and as I watched him being escorted into the police car, my eyes filled with tears. I was already hurting for the innocent victim and their family. It was a completely senseless act of utter evil that left so many hearts broken. And yes, of course he deserved to pay for his crime…absolutely he did! But to my surprise, I also found myself hurting for this perpetrator. So, as you can imagine, I was shocked by the presence of my own tears as they silently rolled down my cheeks. I immediately felt ashamed and wondered what was wrong with me. Who would feel compassion for this guy? Sure, Jesus came to mind, but I realized if I told anyone else this, they would think I was nuts! However, God didn’t and in that same moment He told me, “it’s time”.
I knew exactly what He meant. It was time to sign up for prison ministry. It was time to take the sympathy I have for those who are at their lowest, out of the secret box in my heart. It was time to acknowledge that God put it there for a reason. Not long after this revelation, I heard a radio ad for a prison ministry known as Kairos. I called in the same day and my husband and I eventually met with a great guy who leads one of the teams. He unashamedly cried tears of joy as he shared his own personal experiences with those who are incarcerated. I immediately began attending team meetings. They were about two hours away, but fortunately, God provided a beautiful, Christ-filled woman who is also on the same team and lives about 15 minutes from me. She happily drove me to and from each meeting. It was a major blessing because had she not been there, I can’t say with all honestly that I would have committed long term. The rest of the team was just as amazing as she is. Upon meeting them, I instantly felt a very strong sense of belonging. Prison ministry isn’t exactly the most popular type of ministry so to fellowship with so many others who shared the same passion was a blessing in itself. It was as if I discovered a whole new world filled with hidden treasures at the turn of every corner.
After we completed all the team meetings, it was go time. As a team, we would stay together in a local church and then head over to the prison every day for a period of four days. Each day, from early morning to late evening, we would spend time with the all-female inmates. We shared wisdom with them, laughed with them, cried with them, prayed with them, and even sang with (and to) them.
They were literally some of the best days of my life. It was one of those Heaven meets Earth moments when you just know you are in the right place at exactly the right time. I learned there, that the word Kairos actually means a propitious moment for a decision or action. In those four days, I saw God work in ways I originally assumed would take years upon years. Not only did He work in the ladies’ lives, but He worked in mine as well. I was able to touch a piece of His heart I didn’t even know was accessible! The women blessed me immensely and just like us, they all had different life stories filled with various ups and downs. Some were already Christians, eager and ready to learn more as they showed up proudly carrying their bibles. Simply put, they fell in their walk and they are actively working on getting back up. I saw myself in them, knowing that could have been me if this or that circumstance was different. We all make bad choices as none of us are perfect. Some stories were filled with more pain than others. In fact, one woman’s story pierced straight through my heart like a sharp knife through butter. She first arrived to the program reserved, and unsure of herself and others. After a day or two of sitting in that atmosphere so heavily saturated in God’s love, she courageously walked to the microphone, openly poured out her devastating life story and ended by asking for prayer. Be still my heart. We all loved on her, including her fellow inmates. By the end of the weekend “retreat”, she laughed and smiled freely, her face glowing. We also sang to them with lyrics along the lines of you are loved, you are beautiful etc. and she looked me directly in my eyes as she soaked up every word. My heart ached inside as I wondered if she’s ever been told those things before. It was obvious that the wounded child inside of her so desperately needed to hear them. I was honored to be one of the people God used to tell her how He feels about her despite her past. It had such an impact on me that I can’t think of her face in that moment, without tearing up. Remember the guy I met with when I first signed up? Now I understand why he cried the way he did as he shared his stories.
The experience with my fellow team members was just as overwhelming to my soul as spending time with the inmates was. I have never in my life witnessed the body of Christ function so well together. It was a beautiful glimpse of how He calls us all to be, all the time. The bond I shared with each and every one of them was incredible. As the “inside” team goes into the prison daily, this “outside” team stays behind praying for us and cooking for us (although we ate in the prison as well). They’re also referred to as the prayer and sacrifice team. When we returned back to the church each night, they all waited at the door to embrace us. The last night we returned, I was so overwhelmed with joy coming in the door and seeing so many faces that I love, I actually started crying and felt a bit silly about it. The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart, if you think this is amazing, just imagine Heaven! There will be so many more faces greeting you and celebrating your arrival with an even greater love than this! Why thank you, Holy Spirit…that makes me even more emotional.
I could go on and on, but I suppose I should stop here in hopes that you were still blessed by what I did share. After all, it was just too amazing not to share. I mean, who would have known that God’s presence is so alive and so prevalent behind prison walls? Wow. It truly is an intense spiritual battle ground, but the darkness is obviously no match for God’s forgiveness, sovereignty, mercy and love.
Please join me in this prayer. I have a feeling someone out there could use this…
Thank you, Lord for allowing me to experience Your love and work in such a radical way. I pray You continue to lead and show me where to go and what to do during the rest of my time here on Earth. I also pray the same for others who are reading this. If they are already serving in their calling, take them to the next level and increase their faith. May they pursue Your will with more and more burning passion each day, no matter what challenges or obstacles arise. If they are lost and wondering about their purpose in life, make it clear to them then fill them with the courage and strength it takes to go forth and chase all that You have for them – no looking back. Show them what an honor it truly is to serve You and Your Kingdom.
In Jesus name, amen.
God bless you guys 🙂