Thursday, August 21, 2014

How prison ministry saved my life

I'm writing this for those of you even considering doing prison ministry.
My first trip was in November 2006. I was a new Christian and an even newer single mom. I was desperately seeking God. I struggled with the pain of once again being rejected and NEEDED something from God. I had been invited when I was married, but knew I could not husband would not support this. When I found myself single, I signed up, relying completely on faith for the funds for the trip. My first trip was down in Dallas, so I had to help pay for gas, my hotel, and food. A group of us from church car pooled down there to help with the cost.
On the day we were to leave, a major snow storm hit...we still went, but left a little earlier. Going through the Arbuckle was scary. What should have taken 3-4 hours, took us about 6.5.
I was scared going into the jail, but within about 10 minutes of being in Dawson County Jail, I relaxed. After the platform speaker spoke, it was our turn to talk to the prisoners. I sat down at a table and 2 women came up to me and said, "We know why we are here, why are you?" In that moment, God flashed my life before me and showed me where he had been. I broke down and cried. I began to tell my story to these women. They listened, and when I was done, they accepted Christ. I was surprised that my story could help someone else.
I have been on 4 other trips since then, mostly in Oklahoma and I am getting ready to go again. Every time God shows a new side to him. I have seen a gym full of prisoners give a standing ovation to "Jesus Loves Me". I have made amends to a women I once knew in my youth, who is sitting in prison as we speak. I have had to ask forgiveness to a woman I judged due to media only knowledge of her case, she was honored to forgive me. I have heard stories from the platform speakers that have helped redirect my life.
People can't comprehend why I do this. I love prison ministry because we are the same as the prisoners inside. We all hurt, make bad choices, need HOPE. I can tell my story without prejudice and offer another human being a piece of hope to hang onto. All I need to get through my walk is a small piece of hope....and so do they. We are all prisoners in one way, shape or form. Prison ministry is also a reality check into where I could have easily have been. I have walked a mile in these women's shoes. Some have never even heard the words, "I love you."
Prison ministry is not for everyone, but you will never know unless you experience it just once. I ask my friends to pray if you are even considering prison ministry. God will speak to your heart, the same way he did mine.
I also do prison ministry because I strive to live my life helping "the least of these." I am still a "least of these" as we all are. A small ounce of hope can literally save a saved mine.

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