Have you caught the big one yet? My roommate caught one last night and what a glorious reason to celebrate! She went to do some gutter work for a man she has known a long time. He has a lot of chronic pain and a serious skin condition. Before she left, she led him to the Lord and prayed over him! On an ordinary day, while doing an ordinary job, she led this man into an extraordinary encounter with an extraordinary God! We all want the big revival to come, when we will see hundreds of thousands come to Christ, but to Him, the quiet moments of just one individual surrendering to His embrace is cause for a celestial celebration!
In my last newsletter I promised you a glorious report. Well…..drum roll please….God is phenomenal!!! The event in the women’s prison June 1st, was held in the yard, so the women were scattered everywhere. There are over 900 women there. Most of them came out to get the snacks & soda at the beginning and then a lot of them went back to their dorms. I’m not good at guessing numbers but I think at least a couple hundred stayed outdoors to hear the music and speaking. Patty and I began by walking around the yard talking to women and praying for them. (Patty actually worked the yard the entire time.) There were about 14 other volunteers with us. I honestly was only going to interact on the yard & didn’t know until after we arrived that I was the main speaker. For all the boasting I do in the Lord, my confidence in myself is not so great. My mind went blank. A few minutes before I was to get on the microphone, a male volunteer, one of the singers, looked at me and asked if I was all right. My dazed stare must have given me away J. He asked if he could pray over me and without hesitation, I gratefully accepted. There are so many things I love about God. He never leaves us without help. I shared, shouted, rejoiced in the goodness of God, and at the end it came on my heart to ask them if they wanted to be refreshed, renewed, filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit, to jump up and tell Jesus they were all in. Women all over the yard were jumping up and we were all yelling “I’m all in Jesus!” It was exciting! After we prayed the salvation prayer and ended in prayer over them, the music leader was playing the keyboard and asked everyone to raise their hands who wanted individual prayer. All of us volunteers spent the next 30-40 minutes going from one woman to another praying with them. You could hear women crying, rejoicing, laughing, it was sooo beautiful. The Spirit of God was flowing through that place like living water.
Two weeks later, I was at the banquet in Louisville, Ky for Evangel Prison Ministry, that’s who Patty and I went into the women’s prison with. A woman got up to speak about what happened in the prison that weekend. She didn’t know I was in the audience and she started talking about this woman who came “all the way from Fort Wayne, Indiana” (that tickled me because it sounded like Fort Wayne should be famous), and she said at the end, when I was praying over the yard, one inmate had her hand up, opening and closing her fingers, saying, “Look! Look!” This woman, (the one sharing at the banquet) went over to see what was going on. She said the inmate had tears pouring down her face and the inmate next to her as well, because the one with her hand up, this same hand had been frozen and she had not been able to open it or to raise her arm. Sometime during the time of them saying they were “all in” and the closing prayer, her hand opened and her arm went up! How awesome is our God!!! He seen her when we didn’t. He knew exactly what the cry of her heart was. More than anything, He wanted her to know how much He loves her and how much she matters to Him.
Two days after hearing this glorious report, my sister-in-law and I were on our way to the children’s camp, Camp David of the Ozarks. It was Sunday morning so we stopped in at a church in West Plains, Mo, called “His Place, House of Worship”. A prophetic word was given in tongues and then interpreted, all about God’s love for us. When the pastor got up to speak, he said “God wants us to know, He’s all in”. How’s that for confirmation!
So, after all that, you probably can’t wait to hear about the kid’s camp. I think this picture sums it up. (in the paper copy of the newsletter, there’s a picture right here of Jonah flying into the mouth of the whale, however I have not figured out how to get that image on here!) One minute you’re catching the big one, and the next you’re inside the belly of the whale wondering what happened. In one swift move you can go from the mountaintop into a landslide. If it wasn’t for my firm
belief that God is Who He says He is, that week would have put me back on medication and a lifetime of counseling. Did I fail? I think so. Did God fail? Absolutely not. My sister in-law, did great. Her team won all the medals, came in first place for memory verses, and bonded beautifully. She is the picture of what a role model camp counselor should look like. Only one person in my cabin memorized one verse for the whole week! And that’s not even the bad part. Like last year, I was supposed to have this cushy position, in a room by myself as the camp grandma, writing notes of encouragement to the campers each day, and going around and interacting with them at various points of the day to see how they were getting along. However… just like last year, not enough counselors showed up and I ended up in a cabin with 6 teenagers, who decided I was absolutely homophobic because the god they know loves gay people. One of my campers was in my cabin last year, and I had shared that nobody is born gay, because God doesn’t make those kinds of mistakes. Last year she tried to start a relationship in my cabin with another girl who was definitely trying to be gay, and the two of them were not happy with me when I had to keep splitting them up. She was quick to share this with the new campers and it went downhill from there. I could write pages from this point on and share with you the roller-coaster we were on every day as we went from struggle to triumph back to struggle again.
I love God so much for giving us that miracle healing at the women’s prison. But when we do ministry that doesn’t end up feeling so good, are we going to praise Him just as much? One of the new campers opposed me so much all week, that I woke up every morning dreading waking her up. The last time she got sarcastic with me was Friday morning about 11:30. They were leaving at 1:00 pm, so my heart was watching the clock! When her ride came, I was saying goodbye to someone else and didn’t see her get in the car. I was walking past it, and she rolled down the window, yelled out my name & when I turned to look, she jumped out the car and ran to hug me. The owner of the camp told me, if I felt confused by it, imagine how confused she is. She desperately wants to be loved, but is so afraid of being hurt, she doesn’t know how to receive it. Its hard to love those who despise us. And yet that’s exactly what we’re called to do. God loved us when we were unlovely. He showed me some hard things, very hurtful things about what the lives of those kids are like, and when you feel like you failed to give the love they needed, you feel like you failed all the way around, to God, to them, and to yourself. I definitely do not feel called to children’s ministry, so did God make a mistake by placing me there? Probably not. He’s good. He’s sovereign. His plans are perfect. When you have a discouraging ministry experience, you have to make a choice, you can stop and stay in a place of defeat, or you can surrender those feelings to Jesus. Why not, He paid for them. We have to learn from it and ask Him to prepare us for the next thing. Skinned knees build character.
I read the most beautiful passage in Isaiah 35:8-10 this morning. Verses 8-9 says, “A highway shall be there, and a road, and it shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for others. Whoever walks on the road, although a fool, shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast go up on it; it shall not be found there. But the redeemed of the Lord shall walk there…” What stood out to me is “although a fool”. That would be all of us at one time or another. The Lord knows we are going to make mistakes, yet He still has this place for us to walk in, where we won’t go astray, where no lion or any beast can get us. It’s a place of perfect peace, perfect safety, where we will obtain joy and gladness, and all our sorrow shall flee away. It made me think of a vision I had that I shared with you some time ago about me being on a swing with Jesus, & I burst into tears because the relief was so overwhelming. I knew I was safe forever at that moment. From the mountaintop to the valley, He will never leave nor forsake us.
A verse that tickled me while I was at the camp was Isaiah 6:8. “Here I am! Send me.” That’s me being so bold before camp, Then by Tuesday at the camp, I was like Isaiah 6:11, “Then I said, ‘Lord how long?” Ready to throw in the towel and run! Take heart saints. He will give us just what we need for every situation, and before we know it, we will be on the Highway to Holiness!
May God bless and Keep you through it all!
Your sister in Jesus!