Recently, I was allowed to enter the cells and speak with many of them on a more intimate basis for a few hours. I don't know if this will make sense to anyone else but I had a hard time leaving the women later. Part of me actually wanted to stay with them and continue to do what I could to help them--my love for them was so great. (I'm sure actually being locked up without the ability to walk out would make it feel much different but I'm just telling you what I felt in the moment.) But that feeling was something I know God must have put in my heart because it didn't come from me.
Some of the women have been there for a long time. Some are very young but have already experienced more of life's dark passageways than most of us will ever see. The things they will have to overcome when they get out are so daunting, that I would be more fearful taking their place in their homes (if they have one) than taking their place in the jail if I could.
One of things I do is use the fact that I have a past I am not proud of to reach out to these girls. I have said many times that the only reason I have never been incarcerated is because I didn't get caught. I tell them I need Jesus just as much as they do. They need to know that Satan is trying to destroy them just like he tried to destroy me.
I can never take back the things I've done just as the prisoners cannot either. How horrible it must be to live with the knowledge of who you have become when it is something you are ashamed of! You can see the shame on some of their faces. I understand shame. There are things I've done I'm ashamed of...still. But thank God I don't have to be ashamed of who I am now.
I shared with the women that the only thing I can do about my past is to fix my heart on serving God now. I remember reading something someone said that I've never forgotten. They said the first step toward solving a problem is to stop contributing to it. That reminds me of what Jesus told the woman caught in adultery when He said to her: "Go and sin no more."
I cling to Romans 8:28 where it says that God can make all things work together for good to them who love Him and are called according to His purpose. That's the only hope I have. Maybe allowing me to go to the women in jail is one of the ways God is working good out of my evil. Maybe hearing about what God did for me will help one of those poor, imprisoned souls.
So, please remember us when you pray--all the people involved in the jail ministries. We need wisdom and the guidance from the Holy Spirit. I don't want to set my foot inside that detention center if I don't have the guidance of His Holy Spirit. And please remember the prisoners too.
Our pastor, Bro. Dale Campbell preached about the chains of sin last Sunday and how the unsaved, though not in physical chains, are bound by spiritual ones. Most of these jailed women know what it is to wear shackles when they're taken to court and they know what it is to be bound by chains of sin too. What a terrible burden! What sin-sick souls!
Please pray for these poor prisoners. Some have accepted the call of Jesus. Many have not. Many will be incarcerated still through the holidays and long after. They talk about Thanksgiving and Christmas. They have families that are suffering because they are in jail and a lot of them have children.
Maybe there are a few in there who don't deserve the sentence they received. Maybe some of them deserve more. I don't know. But one thing I do know: Everyone of them needs Jesus just as much as I do.