Blessed be the Name of our Lord, the God of all mercy and compassion. The One who upholds and strengthens us, carries us when we’re weak, rejoices with us when we’re strong, fills our cup to overflowing and fills our hearts with laughter, puts a spring in our step, sets our feet upon solid ground, blesses us going in and coming out, goes before us to defeat the enemy and delights in watching us pick up the spoil! Blessed be the Name of the Lord! How great is our God! How wonderful His mercies! “Give unto the Lord the glory due His Name; Worship the Lord in the beauty of His holiness,” Psalm 29:2 (NKJV) His holiness is beautiful. It’s in His holiness that we have this hope, this treasure in earthen vessels.
Last week I was with the We Care prison ministry in Alabama for the annual Renew Hope prison invasion where more than 350 volunteers were divided up into 26-28 facilities (can’t remember the exact number) to share the gospel for four days. I was in a group of 6 women who were sent to a small women’s prison for 9 hours a day from Monday to Thursday. We sat in their “dayroom” which is their TV room, hair styling room, microwave-using room, letter writing, and gossiping room, with the bunks all around us. It was pretty much like a one-story concrete warehouse only it had 150 bunk beds in it that held 300 women. Just row after row of beds, no personal space, no lockers. All their worldly possessions hung off their beds in 2 laundry bags and a metal drawer on the underside of the metal bunk. One women I spoke with will have been there 18 years this month. Another got there when she was 19 and is now 36, another 11 years, another 6 years. In this one room. Where time stands still. There isn’t a school or a recreation building, so there are few jobs there. Most of them don’t work. It was heartbreaking. They just sit there, or go out to the yard, which is just as bleak; a bare yard surrounded by a fence. This is not what God intended. The chaplain is part-time so she only goes there two days a week. There are few paid state chaplains in Alabama so most of the chaplains are volunteers and have to raise their own support. But we have this hope in earthen vessels. The inmates have it too. So our job is, according to 2 Corinthians 5:19-20 “that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” Our job is to help them brush aside the dirt “not imputing their trespasses to them” and realize the treasure that is inside them. There is no other bright light inside that place. 2 Corinthians 4:6-7 “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”
Several women complained to me about the amount of drugs in there. A handful of the women are classified as “community custody level”. That means they can actually leave there during the day and go to work in the city at Wendy’s or a factory. For that, they get to wear civilian clothes, so no one in the community realizes that person is actually a prisoner of the state. The downside is that drugs are big money in prison, so the women have people bring drugs to them at their jobs, which they then sneak back in with them. Not just the inmates do that – an officer got fired from their last month for doing the same thing. Drugs are rampant in the prisons. And why not. The enemy comes to “steal, kill and destroy”. What a better way to finish them off. If you look with your human eyes, the atmosphere is heavy, overwhelming, even hopeless. But when you look with your spiritual eyes, “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power…” Ephesians 1:18-19. We have this hope!
You have to believe that the One “who commanded light to shine out of darkness”, can speak light into their darkness, that His plan is to give them a “future and a hope”, that they can have the “riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints”, that they also “have this treasure in earthen vessels”, that “greater is He” in them, “than he who is in the world”. You have to believe His Word! You have to love His Word, and you have to love the One who wrote it, if you’re ever going to look at a person in a hopeless situation and convey to them the “exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe”. Because He can mountains! There is no power of the enemy that is greater than He is! We have this hope “which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at the His right hand in heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.” Ephesians 1:20-21
While praying early one morning, I think it was the 2nd day, I thought of 2 Kings 19:35, “And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty five thousand; and in the morning, there were the corpses – all dead.” Isn’t that something that King Hezekiah, who had been so worried about the overwhelming size of his enemy, while he slept, the Lord sent an angel to slay the entire army. But also King Hezekiah humbled himself and cried out to the Lord. It’s okay to admit you feel powerless over a situation, cry out to the God who is all powerful and totally capable of delivering you. In 2 Chronicles 20 when king Jehoshaphat had a huge army come against him, he sent the worshippers out first. The enemy got so confused they turned and killed each other. It took the king and his people 3 days to carry back all the spoil from the enemy’s tents. As I thought about these scriptures, joy rose up in my spirit. Without a shadow of a doubt I knew God was at work while we were sleeping and all we had to do was go in with a heart of praise & worship and collect the spoil the enemy abandoned and return those treasures in earthen vessels, back to their proper owner, the King of Kings. So while the outward situation looked bleak, my heart was rejoicing, the battle isn’t ours, but the Lords! It’s His desire to bring them back into right relationship with Him. “Now we have this confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions we have asked of Him.” (I John 5:14) When you’re praying about witnessing, or praying for someone’s salvation, have this confidence. It doesn’t matter what the situation looks like, is it God’s will that they be saved? Is it God’s will that you share this gift of reconciliation? Of course! Therefore you will have what you ask for! Is His Word true? Need I even say it! Our enemy in these situations is hopelessness, despair, addiction, unforgiveness, depression, demonic oppression. None of these can stand against the living God. They are invaders just as real as the armies that surrounded the kings in the Old Testament. But our God is the same God who defeated the enemies of those who diligently sought Him, who will never leave nor forsake you, whose perfect love will cast out fear, who has defeated death and the grave, who says “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.” Romans 8:37
One of the men speakers shared this true story. He’s a pastor and this was a family he ended up being involved with. There was a young woman who was a Christian but married a man who was not. He was abusive, didn’t work, left for weeks and months at a time, and when he did return it was only to wreck havoc on their lives with more abuse. They had 3 children. She was going to church, working, struggling, as basically a single mom, and in the midst of all this, praying for her husband to be saved. One day she was lying in the bed with 2 of their children, when he showed up and shot her in front of them. She died immediately. Does God answer prayer? The father was given a life sentence, all 3 children grew up and became drug addicts. The situation seemed hopeless for all involved. Even though in prison, the dad remained hard as ever, the children lost in lives of despair. Then one of the sons ended up giving his life to the Lord. Is any situation ever too dark for God? This brother led the other brother to Christ, and eventually the two of them brought the sister in, who also surrendered. Meanwhile years have passed and the father is dying in prison, I can’t remember if it was some type of cancer or what, but he was given only a limited amount of time left. The children wrote the parole board and explained that they forgave their father and would the state please release their father to them so they could care for him until his death. The father was still not a Christian. The parole board granted their request. And these 3, because of their willingness to forgive were able to lead their father to Christ before his death a few months later while he was in their care. The pastor who shared this story with us said he actually was asked to preach this man’s funeral, and the letter the children wrote to the parole board was shared at the funeral. God answered that woman’s prayer. We have this hope. In earthen vessels.
I know I’ve been a little repetitive but I want you to get it – “we have this hope” and He has given us this “treasure in earthen vessels”. You may not realize how valuable you are. You have a treasure inside of you that cannot be bought, whose value cannot be compared or equated to anything we know on earth, what’s inside of you is priceless. You may not know what you can share with others around you, share with them the love of Christ, share “what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.” It’s worth giving away. We had many great moments of praying with the women, watching God exchange His peace for their pain, there’s nothing else I want to do with my life. Thank you for all your contributions. Thank you for being the “senders”. I love being sent! I’m so very grateful for your faithfulness to give to this ministry.
Dad has had a rough month. He was in ICU for awhile. A few days into it, after he was finally coming around and able to communicate, he looked at me and said, “I can’t believe I’m still alive.” I said “Me either!” It was the grace of God. Believe with me for God’s power to fall upon his home and as the glory of the Living God descends, every plan of the enemy to rob my parents of their health, peace, and joy will be sent as far as the east is from the west and a wellspring of living water will burst forth in the middle of their living room that will refresh, restore and renew them. Their praise will be, “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord, my God, I will give thanks to You forever.” Psalm 30:11-12 We will be continue this with a praise report! For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised!
Be blessed saints!
Love, your sister in Jesus, Pam
February 2018 Schedule
February 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th; Homeless feeding ministry, downtown Ft. Wayne, IN
February 4th, 11th, 18st, 25th; Dad preaching to homeless at Ft Wayne Rescue Mission
February 11th; Allen County Work Release Center, evening service
February 21st – 24th COPE (Coalition of Prison Evangelists) conference Daytona, Fl. To find out more about this go to copeconnections.org if you’re interested in attending, or call me. 260-445-5617
*Am also doing individual jail visits during the month, but don’t put on schedule because never sure of dates.