How great and glorious is our God! His mercies are new every morning! New morning, new mercy, that’s how it works! Despite the tumble we took with the loss of mom, it hasn’t taken long for the Lord to show us that we are to look ahead. A scripture the Lord gave me this week was Psalm 126:5 “Those who sow in tears, shall reap in joy.” Less than 2 weeks after dad died, I had to be at a prison ministry conference in Florida. On the one-month anniversary of mom’s death, Patty and I loaded up to come down to Alabama for prison ministry. I know I made mention of this in both of the last 2 newsletters, but I don’t think it can be emphasized enough, we have to believe that He is Who He says He is. If we choose hope, truly choose hope, how can we allow ourselves to dwell in despair? It’s not that we don’t miss them. Patty and I have both wanted to call mom and tell her how the trip is going. We always knew she was holding us up in prayer and waiting for the reports! But now our eyes have to be fixed on the Father.
We are down here for the annual Renew Hope prison invasion that dad used to write to you about. It’s where volunteers come from many states so that we can be all be divided up in groups and sent to 26 correctional facilities and do ministry day and night for four days. This year there were about 350 volunteers. Its organized by the We Care Prison Ministry based here in Alabama. When I came down in 2018 and did the volunteer chaplaincy work at the Montgomery Womens Correctional Facility, it was through them that I was able to do that. This has been a wonderful, phenomenal, awesome week! The power of the Lord has been all over the place! People are split in different regions of the state. Patty and I were assigned to the Atmore area, where there’s a number of men’s prisons. Each evening, those of us in this area come together at the We Care facility for a meal after the last service about 7:30 pm. To hear what God did in each facility is incredible. We heard that at 2 services in 2 different facilities, the same message was being preached, using the exact same scripture the same night by 2 different preachers! In our service last night Patty had told the men they were to start being used by the Lord now, right where they are, that they don’t have to wait to get out to start serving God. We were teamed up with Dan Utz and his wife (who did music for dad’s services in prison for about 12 years). Dan told the men in this same service (about 100 of them) to put their hand on the man’s shoulder to their right and pray for them. After a few moments he told them to switch and put their hands on the man’s shoulder to the left of them and pray for them. To hear all these men in the prison, praying out loud at the same time for the man next to him was a symphony too beautiful to describe. A lot of these men would never even speak to one another in the prison population, so for them to act in obedience without hesitation was a miracle in itself. It was a divine moment directed by the Holy Spirit. Last night at the We Care office, a woman told me how she felt led by the Lord to tell the women in the jail yesterday to let God start using them right now where they are, then she had the women join hands and told each of them to pray for the woman to her left! The Lord was doing the same thing in two places!
This may sound like of course those are things we should have done and said, but take into account we are all from different backgrounds, different walks of life, and for the same words and actions being done at the same time by different people makes you know it was being directed by the Holy Spirit.
One man shared how he had walked up to the cell of a man in solitary confinement. The man was reading a book. He started talking to this man who was covered with tatoos and found out He knew about Christ but had been backslidden for a long time. Before long with tears running down both their faces, he was reunited with the Father as he recommited his life to the Lord. How can your heart not be singing at the thought of that! Today, that man is a new creation in Christ! New day, new mercy!!!
When I took the cordless microphone last night and began speaking, it literally felt like their was an electric current running through my hand. I actually looked at it and when I realized it was being run by batteries about exploded with the joy of knowing it was the Holy Spirit! Dad used to say, “You can’t lose with the stuff we use”, and he was right! We have no idea how many people received a word from the Lord this week, how many found new hope, how many were set free from oppression, addiction, how many were saved from commiting suicide or taking the life of another, but we know where all the glory goes! Hallelujah! Thank You Jesus!!!
The president of the We Care ministry told us to be sure to thank our supporters for making it possible for us to come down here this week. So thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I can’t tell you how blessed Patty and I are to do this and we absolutely could not do it without your support. On this trip we’ll be gone two weeks as we’ll be at a prison ministry conference in Florida from next Tuesday through Friday, ending with a service at a large reentry center on Saturday for men who’ve been released from prison and are working their way back into society. The amount it takes to do this adds up quick. Thank you so much for believing in the effectiveness of this ministry, believing with us that God is bigger than the mistakes people have made, and believing in the redemptive power of the gospel in transforming the lives of those incarcerated. Thank you!
My reading this morning took me to Joshua 18:3-4, “Then Joshua said to the children of Israel: “How long will you neglect to go and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers has given you? Pick out from among you three men from each tribe, and I will send them: they shall rise and go through the land, survey it according to their inheritance and come back to me.” How is that for a word from the Lord! How long will we neglect to possess our inheritance? We have an inheritance of victory! We have an inheritance of overcoming the world! We have an inheritance of love, joy, peace! How long until we possess it?!!! Look in the scriptures, survey it, see what belongs to you as a child of the living God. Then look at your situation, survey the land, walk into it as a child who already has all the provision he needs to work it out, to hold your head up confidently. Don’t hesitate to grap a few other people to look at it with you. Joshua said, “pick out three men from each tribe…” That’s probably why the bible says don’t forsake the assembling of ourselves together. We need to stir each other up for good works.
After mom passed, there were a couple weeks when I couldn’t lift my head above water. I’m so grateful for the board members of our ministry reaching out to me. Their prayers were the life preserver I desperately needed. Then another friend called me just to let me know I wasn’t standing alone and I realized the Lord was directing me to our new treasurer. Within a few days another friend called and offered to be my secretary! Can you imagine, I get a secretary who isn’t related to me! Mom was our secretary and treasurer. As I sat at the bank desk watching them take her name off the account, my eyes filled with tears. I wanted to say, please don’t erase her. But this is all part of the process. How blessed we are for the loved ones God has given us, for a time and many seasons. And even more blessed that He has not taken them away from us forever. In the meantime He has given us this wonderfully huge family to support one another, to see things we often can’t see ourselves, to laugh, to cry and to stand together.
Don’t let offense separate you from the the family of God. It’s a great work that’s bigger than anyone of us, but includes all of us. I try to only tell you the good parts of our travels, but when you work with other ministries, volunteers, people from different backgrounds, there are all kinds of opportunities for offense! We have different opinions, attitudes, ways of doing things and it not only gets uncomfortable but a little abrasive at times. There’s nothing like sandpaper on an open wound. Instead of feeling like the lone solder, just know that it’s normal. But it’s a place you don’t have to stay in. There have many times when I’ve been in tears before the Lord right before going in to minister trying to get past my offended heart and laying it down before the Lord. In the end I found out the pruning was worth it and I didn’t need that limb anyway. J
Walk into your inheritance! Receive all that He has for you! You are free indeed!
This is the day that the Lord has made, rejoice and be glad in it!
Your sister in Jesus,