flashthoughts

Posts Tagged ‘Prison

mission-trip-to-whereIt continues to amaze me how God can (and will) use the most ordinary thing to stir something in my Spirit that, I believe, He is wanting me to share with others. Last Wednesday morning was another great example.

My husband and I receive a monthly prayer calendar from We Care. The We Care calendar has specific things or people to pray for each day of the month. January is dedicated to people and/or items concerning ReNew Hope. On January 11th, we were asked to pray for “Donors, Prayer Intercessors and their families”. A simple enough request, right? Yet, something began to stir in my Spirit and it didn’t go away, so here I am trying my best to share what I believe God wants me to share.

What comes to your mind when you think of a mission trip? Africa? Nicaragua? Tibet? Ecuador? China? Russia? Haiti? The Outback of Australia? Prison?

When we were asked to pray for the donors, prayer intercessors and their families, it made me think of all the churches who go on mission trips to other countries every year; but, how many, if any, sponsor a mission trip to a prison yard?

Every year, during the last week of January, an organization called the We Care Program conducts a “mission trip” of sorts. It is called ReNew Hope and people come from all over the United States, Canada and other countries to spend a week in Alabama and take the love of Jesus into the prison mission field. Many of these people are using the only week of vacation they receive from their every day job to do this, not to mention it costs them money to come and participate. These people have a true calling from the Lord to do this and they are blessed for it. They are blessed most when they are given the privilege of seeing a lost soul come to Jesus for the first time or when one returns home (comes back to Jesus), like the prodigal son. If you haven’t already signed up, it is too late to participate in this year’s ReNew Hope. However, if you feel like this is something God is calling you to do, you should go to the website for We Care (click on the name and it will take you there) and get more information. Maybe you can join in next year. If your church participates in mission trips, maybe you could talk to them about supporting a mission trip to the prisons in Alabama (and one in Florida) next year.

I realize we aren’t all called to go to on mission trips – abroad or at home – but, we can be called to help those who are. If you don’t feel called to go, you should not go; but, if you are called to help others go, you should help in any way you can – whether that be financially or through prayer.

I believe the prisons are some of the biggest mission fields today that are lacking the most in missionaries to cover it. This is due, in part, to the fact there aren’t many willing to go into this mission field and partly due to the fact those willing to go have a hard time raising the funds allowing them to go.

My husband, along with other We Care Chaplains, goes into, what some would call, one of those most dangerous mission fields on a daily basis – not just once a year. He goes into prisons. He goes in to share the hope of Jesus, to share his own story of what God did and continues to do in his life and to let the men there know He can, will and wants to do the same for them, if they will allow it. He does this under the umbrella of the “We Care Program”. We Care does not contribute to his salary; but, forwards to him funds that are given for his support, in the form of wages. He receives 100% of the money donated to him, unless it is donated with a credit/debit card. If a card is used, a small percentage goes to cover administration fees collected by the company associated with the card. If you would like to become a partner with us, or any other chaplain with We Care, feel free to contact me and I will be happy to share with you the information on how to do that.

I would like to give a little more information about the We Care Program, for those who aren’t familiar with it. We Care’s vision statement is: “To see the redemptive power of Jesus Christ become evident in the lives of inmates as they grow and make disciples in prison and beyond.” Their mission is “to fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus Christ through chaplaincy in the correctional setting” and their core values are Biblical foundation, daily discipleship and caring ministry.

I challenge each one who has read this far to be in prayer for the over 400 people coming together next week for this mission trip. I further challenge you to be in much prayer about it this year and see how God would like to use YOU on this mission trip next year – as an active participant, a financial participant (helping or sponsoring someone else who wants to be an active participant) or as a mighty prayer warrior. All three are equally important and vital to growing the Kingdom of God.

The men and women in prison, in God’s eyes, are no different than you and I. They made wrong choices and are paying the consequences of those choices; but, they are still men and women created by God and He will welcome any man or woman into His Kingdom when they confess their sin to Him, turn from their wicked ways and do their best to live daily for Him – even if it’s from a prison yard. Think about this: there are many prisoners who have been truly born again and are living a much freer life than some of us on the “outside”.

But thanks be to God, Who gives us the VICTORY through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ I Corinthians 15:57

IN JAILI spent my first day in jail Monday, January 26, 2015. The difference between me and the ladies already inside? I would get to leave at the end of the day and they would not. I was a first-time participant in an event called ReNew Hope through the We Care Program. (Those names are in a different color so you can click on them and learn more about each)

I was nervous, not scared, as I did not know what to expect. I only knew I wanted to be able to go in and encourage these ladies, share the love of Jesus with them and, hopefully, be a small blessing to them. I’m still not sure if that happened or not, but God certainly used them to encourage me, share the love of Jesus with me and bless me beyond measure!

Monday, I told the other ladies on our team, since this was my first year to participate, I didn’t want to talk with anyone “on my own”. I was not even sure if I’d be going back on Tuesday, depending on how Monday went! Needless to say, I went back on Tuesday and again on Thursday. I didn’t go Wednesday because I was going into a different place Wednesday night and wouldn’t have been back in time. More about that later….

LESSON #1

I am so accustomed to using the Bible app on my phone, I didn’t even think to grab an actual Bible on Monday before I left, even though I knew I wouldn’t be able to take my phone inside the jail! So, all the other ladies on our team had Bibles and I had nothing 😦 I thought, ‘Oh well, no big deal, I’m gonna be pairing up with someone anyway, so it will work out okay’ and it did. Almost immediately, ladies were talking with us and they were so excited we were there. Some grabbed their own Bibles and they were noticing many of the ladies on our team had lots of notes in their Bibles. They asked, “Is it okay for us to write in our Bibles?” I remember telling more than one lady, “YES! Of course! Write in your Bible. Make yourself all kinds of notes as you’re reading and the Lord is showing you things where you’re reading. Write it down!!” As I was saying this to different ladies over and over, I felt the Lord asking me, “So, why don’t YOU do that anymore?” Yes, I was definitely convicted of not using His actual love letter to me, His Holy Word, the way I once did. I went home Monday night, got my Bible out and put it in a case to carry with me Tuesday. On Tuesday, He reinforced His message to me about His Word when we were allowed to visit with the ladies in what is called the lockdown wedge. One of the ladies there had just received a brand new Bible from the Chaplain and she was holding on to it for dear life. She had it clutched to her chest and had the biggest smile on her face. She was so happy and proud to have a nice Bible. She said she had never had one like it before and she didn’t even want to put it down. That scene touched my heart in a very deep place! Since my experience there, I now carry my love letter with me to church and I am beginning to use it at home, too, as I once did, instead of the app. The app on the phone is nice and I do still use it – but I’m getting back to using my “hands-on” Bible the way I should!

Tuesday we were able to visit with ladies we had not had time to visit with on Monday. I love how God always connects us with exactly who we need to connect with. I was able to share a very, teeny-tiny part of my testimony with one of the ladies. Another volunteer shared her testimony and I felt I needed to share that one small part of mine. I knew God was prompting me to share with her because she was experiencing many of the same things I have experienced in past years.

LESSON #2

Something else I learned on Monday is GOD CHANGED MY NAME! Our team leader was sharing the story of Zaccheus and how God knew he was in the tree and called him by name and told him to come down because He was going to eat with him that day. She told them the wonderful thing is God knows their names, too, and He knows exactly where they are. I was thinking about that Monday night after I got home and God showed me, while He did not change my name from what my parents had given me when I was born, HE most definitely changed it from my nickname back to my given name because I am no longer the person associated with that nickname. I am becoming the person He always intended me to be and that is why HE changed my name. You can read more about the meaning of my name change in my story here.

Wednesday was the day I planned to stay home so I could go into Holman Prison Wednesday night for the service there. For those who don’t know, my husband is an Asst. Chaplain at Holman through the We Care Program. Some of the other wives had chosen Wednesday night as the night to attend service there so, of course, I wanted to go the same night 🙂

OH! I have to add this side note here: One highlight of Wednesday had absolutely nothing to do with ReNew Hope – well, in a round-about way it did, I guess, since it happened at We Care Headquarters – but I was able to see a friend I haven’t seen in a LONG time and it was so wonderful to see her! She has been and still is in the process of fighting breast cancer and all that entails, so say a prayer for her – God knows who she is 😉 She is doing GREAT, by the way, but all prayers are appreciated 🙂

Now – back to the evening service at Holman. What an experience that was! There were TWELVE visitors to get checked in – five in the music group, two that were speaking, wife of one speaker, three wives associated with We Care and the photographer/videographer – and it was very different from how the ladies team had been checking in at the jail! We all signed in on the paper log at 3:46 p.m. By the time the Warden had entered all the information and fingerprinted us all in through the computer, it was 5:02 when we were receiving our visitor passes and the service started at 5:30. The men were already in the chapel waiting for service to begin. As we walked in, several of the men were in prayer. They were praying for the service and for individuals. We went in and sat on the front row as we were asked to do. Sitting there, listening to the men praying also touched a special place in my heart. Hearing one man in particular praying for individuals and calling them by name, well, it brought tears to my eyes. Going through our day-to-day lives, we can find ourselves thinking the men and women in prisons and jails don’t matter. We can almost let ourselves believe they are of no concern to us, they did something wrong and they are where they should be. We couldn’t be more wrong! Father, forgive me, if I ever start to feel that way, and remind me and others these men and women are someone’s sons and daughters, possibly husbands or wives, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers. They are PEOPLE with feelings and emotions and regrets, just like I have every day and you know what? Jesus died for them the same way He died for me and I need to remember to love them with His love the same way He loves me!

The service was great and the time was over before we knew it and it was time to go home – or at least back to We Care Headquarters for another delicious supper prepared by those wonderful We Care ladies!

Thursday, back at the jail, was very nice. We were able to re-visit ALL the ladies we had seen during the week including the ones in the lockdown wedge. It was such a blessing to speak with them again. By Thursday, I also knew I would definitely be doing this again next year and, in fact, had even begun to think of others that I want to invite to join us!

It was a week of growing in the Lord and listening to Him and allowing Him to change the way I see a lot of things. While I shared two of the biggest lessons He taught me this week, there were many other lessons He taught me, also. Some may not be quite as ‘big’ as others, but certainly just as important. It most definitely made a change for the better in me and I pray I will continue to be teachable.

If you are interested in getting more information about how YOU can be a volunteer next year, be sure to click on the links in the first paragraph of this post or, if you want to ask me any questions about it, please do so. Feel free to leave a comment, if you are interested or have questions. I would love to speak with you about what a rewarding experience it is!


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