“Ask the Lord for rain in the time of the latter rain. The Lord will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, grass in the field for everyone.” Zechariah 10:1 (NKJV) Let’s ask for the rain! Put on your galoshes and get ready! There is a day of rejoicing that draweth nigh! During my prayer time this morning as I was praising the Lord for Him being the Lion of Judah, I had the impression of this huge lion beside me, as if I could actually lean into Him. The comfort of His Presence was overwhelming. Imagine walking down the street with this huge gentle lion beside you. What fear could you possibly have of anything? As people would back away, you’d say, “no, come close and pet Him, He won’t hurt you”. And then you’d see the amazement in their face as they touched His mane and looked into His eyes full of kindness and love. They’d adore Him and yet respect Him for the strength they could see just beneath the surface. That’s how we need people to see Jesus. He’s huge, powerful, stunning to look at, yet full of compassion. And we are part of His tribe. How blessed we are! What does this have to do with rain? I have no idea, but somehow, I’m sure its all connected!
It’s been such an amazing month, I don’t even know where to start, so I guess I’ll start with a confession. The 1st week of May it came on my heart to come down to Alabama for a month, which is where I am writing you from. I wasn’t sure exactly what I would do here. Our friends had told us they were being allowed to do some prison ministry outside the fence, but then the week before I left they told me they had not been asked to anymore in the previous few weeks and there was no mention of anything coming up. There’s a low income neighborhood here that a few years ago I felt I should have went into and have done some type of outreach, and I really felt I should just go through and see what the Lord would have me do there but I had no idea what. Also the We Care Prison Ministry, that we come down and do prison ministry with every year, has 3 thrift stores that helps support them putting volunteer chaplains in about 26 facilities around the state, and I thought maybe I could help there some kind of way. But here’s my confession, since I was coming without any real plan, and not sure what, if anything I’d be able to do here, I did not have enough faith to tell you about it in the last newsletter. I thought if I put it in there, you’d think I might not be wrapped too tight. I was going off on a journey not knowing what I was supposed to do or how I was going to do it. These stories always sound great after you have seen God move! But before hand, it sounds like “what are you thinking?” “are you sure this is from God?” “what if it’s just a waste of time?”
I am so happy to say it has definitely not been a waste of time! The day before I left, word came from the prison that we could do a service that Sunday – big high-five followed by a let-down as it was canceled due to hurricane rain, (but my hopes were already up, so too late to make me think I shouldn’t have come!) The thrift store had just become short 2 employees, so they really needed help. I’ve volunteered 4 days a week, each week I’ve been here. We’ve done 2 services at 2 different prisons, outside the fence. At the 2nd service, it was scorching hot at 1 pm, and the people didn’t show up with the generator or sound equipment. Because we’re outside and how far we are from the prison, there is no hope of an electrical outlet. Now if it had of been an electric fence, maybe we could have tapped into that… or maybe that’s not a good idea. The officers told us we had to go out to the farthest corner of the yard away from the prison, and we could not drive there. No shade, no sound system, and we had a ways to walk. Only 12 inmates came all the way to the back field. And we were being bug bit. The perfect atmosphere for a move of God. We had a wonderful time! Jesus said the shepherd will leave the 99 to look for the 1, so of course He will show up for 12. It was totally worth it to share the goodness and mercy of a loving Father with them, to see their countenances change in such a short time as He touched them as only He can. As of yesterday, one of the chaplains at We Care was working on getting us into another prison before I come home.
Also the Lord has led me, (given me the courage) to go into the neighborhood I spoke of and just walk up to a few porches and talk to people about Jesus. It’s so easy to sound bold and courageous in these letters, but lets face it folks, walking up to a complete stranger who has no idea why you’re coming to their porch, and just opening up a conversation about the Lord, is a little nerve wracking. Now, if I’d have truly grasped that picture the Lord gave me this morning about the huge lion walking beside me, and if He’d have actually have shown up as such, this would be a whole different story. It ended up going pretty well, even though they had open bottles of alcohol on their porches and it wasn’t quite noon yet, but they were very friendly and we had good conversations. I’ve went back and visited them a few times. I always thought to minister you should have something in your hand to give them, like food, or a care package, or at least a tract, to break the ice. This is a very poor neighborhood and they look like you should take them something, but the Lord told me to go empty-handed. When we do ministry we have to be sensitive to how the Lord tells us to move. If He says take nothing in your hand then we have to believe that what we have to offer them is more valuable than anything else.
On the morning of the 18th, right when I first woke up, I seen in my mind, my journal page with the words written at the top of the page, “The 1st day of Revival”. Talk about an eye-opener! So when I went to have my prayer time, that was exactly what I wrote. That changed my whole perspective as to how I should conduct myself that morning. If it’s the first day of revival, what’s my part in it? My reading that morning was in Joel 3, but at the top of the page was the line from Joel 2:28, “I will pour out my Spirit”! My prayer in my journal was “Hallelujah! This is the day the Lord has made, the day He has ordained and spoke into being. Thank You Father that all Your words are just and true as they come to pass in the fulfillment of time. Let me serve You in the power that You have reserved for the unleashing of this hour.”
My challenge to myself while being down here: (just like we all do) I keep asking the Lord to bring revival, keep asking Him to move in people’s hearts, and to draw them to Himself, but what is my responsibility in all this? I left earlier than I needed to that morn to go to the thrift store so I could make a few intentional stops along the way. I stopped by a tire and oil change shop so they could look at my tires. After the man said they were okay and that it was probably just a bad sensor, I started to leave but then decided to give him and the other man in that shop each a comic book bible and I asked one of them if he had anything specific I could pray for him about? He said “no”, so I said “okay, I will just be praying for the Lord to bless you and give you what you need”. He thanked me. I went over to the area where they did the oil changes and gave each of the 2 young men there one of the comic bibles also. Since they had customers, I didn’t ask if they needed prayer, but they were both appreciative of the books. Right down the road from there was a laundromat so I thought I’m just going to stop and pray with whoever is in there. (At this point, I’m like a mad woman, I’d almost lost my nerve after the tire shop, but I was determined I was going to pray with someone before I got to work!) There was one man, who seemed a little mentally challenged, (which was almost a relief) who readily accepted my hand in prayer.
Driving on down the road there was a man setting up a watermelon stand. I thought I should pray prosperity for him, so I circled around the block, where I noticed a woman sitting on a walker outside a clinic, but I was no nervous about getting back to the man at the watermelon stand before I lost my nerve, that I thought I’d have to come back for her. I parked and walked over to him and said, “Hey, can I pray for you for prosperity today”, He said yes! I asked his name and he said Joshua Banks. I said, “Joshua!” And then I let loose with an excited prayer for everything the Lord said to Joshua about being strong and courageous. When I was finished there were tears in his eyes. We hugged and I took off to the next assignment! (At this point my feet were barely touching the ground). I circled the block and back to the woman on the walker. Her name was Roxanne. I asked if she wanted prayer and she said yes. I asked why she was at the clinic and she said because she keeps falling and she showed me several bruises, so I prayed and commanded the devil to quit tripping her and for her feet to be planted on the solid foundation of the Rock. All of this before 9 a.m.!
After I was at the store for about ½ an hour, one of the other volunteers came in and she said, “Did you pray with Joshua?” I said, “Did you talk to Joshua?” She said she stopped to get some corn. It was the first time she ever stopped there and he was telling her and another customer how this white lady stopped and just took his hands and prayed with him and he didn’t know if I was for real or if I was an angel. Wait, it gets even better, he’s a pastor! This story is so amazing. The volunteer who’s telling me this is named Fawn. So the following Sunday morning, her and I go to his church. He told the congregation how after I prayed with him, that night he dreamed he cut the head off a rattlesnake. This is so significant because 3 days before I met Joshua, 3 ladies and I were praying for Atmore, (the city we’re in) and one of the ladies said she saw a snake in the streets of Atmore. My immediate response was, “We need to cut it’s head off” and so we continued to pray in the spirit. Little did we know we were interceding for Joshua, who the Lord has given the authority to be the snake slayer! Dad always said, “You can’t lose with the stuff we use!” We will never know what the Lord will do if we don’t step out in faith and give Him the opportunity to move.
While in my prayer time that morning, I had also asked the Lord to let someone come and tell me they had a dream from Him. That same morning a woman came into the thrift store. I simply asked how she was doing, and she went off into a long, long conversation, until I was finally asking the Lord to please show me a polite way to excuse myself, when all of a sudden she said, she’d had a dream where someone told her the Lord was not going to wait for her forever. I said, “I need to pray with you, do you care if we pray right here?” I almost missed it because I thought the conversation wasn’t important!
I’ll be heading home right after the 4th and I’m truly sad at the thought of leaving here. It has been such a time of refreshing and renewing. Before leaving home I did get another vehicle. It’s a 2014 Honda CR-V. A man who used to go to bible study at mom and dad’s house years ago, who I met completely by accident, has a Honda repair shop in Fort Wayne. I’d taken the car to them to inspect before buying it. He said in honor of dad’s ministry and the fact that I’m still doing it, they will do all the maintenance on it for free! So with that, I felt the Lord gave us His blessing to get it. While down here, I’m staying at the We Care Headquarters, which has guest rooms. The first morning I woke up here, (I’d had the car for all of 3 days) I had a dream I was handing the keys to a woman here in the parking lot. When I woke up, I prayed and asked the Lord to please pay it off first so we can give it to her free and clear. I don’t know who she is, but if He tells us to release the car to her, we certainly will. It’s all His! Why would we hold anything back?!
I almost forgot to tell you about the inmates next door! We Care has a house set up on their property that they allow a couple men to stay in. One of them has been out 3 years after doing 25 years in prison, the other one has only been out a couple of months, after being locked up 10 years. One day I seen one of them (Bruce) sitting on the tailgate of his pickup truck playing his guitar, so I walked over and sang some hymns with him (because that’s what he was playing. I don’t know the verses but can usually chime in on the choruses). Both of these men had been on the worship team in prison. Last Wednesday night I went over to visit them and then Fawn came over and we again had a time of Bruce playing the guitar and us singing along. So this past Wednesday night I invited them over to the big sprawling back porch of the headquarters building and invited our prison ministry friend, Dan Utz and his wife, Fern to come over. Dan and Bruce led us in a wonderful time of worship. Next Wednesday, I’m planning to invite some others over, and we’ll make it a little larger and a little louder as we exalt His Name! Ministry is easier when we allow the Lord to do it. It doesn’t take a committee or a board meeting to gather people together to pray or sing a few songs together. So, don’t over think it. Open your home or invite yourself to someone else’s!
I’m sorry this is sooo long! Actually I could on for another page! I love the Lord so much! He is so incredibly faithful!!! How can we not adore Him??? How can we not boast in Him??? None of this would happen without the Holy Spirit showing up and flowing through us to glorify the Father. One day in that small neighborhood, a man was sitting in a golf cart in the middle of the street and a woman was standing there talking to him. I pulled up behind them, got out and told them I didn’t want them to think I was weird but the Lord told me to come and see who was praying for that neighborhood and I was wondering if they could help me. She was so overcome with emotion she couldn’t talk. He was her cousin who also was a deacon of a church on that same street. She’d called him to come over and encourage her because of some spiritual warfare she was going through. The Lord directed it all! We had a little prayer meeting there in the street. None of this may sound too out of the ordinary, except it’s predominantly an all black neighborhood and no matter where I was people kept looking at me trying to figure out why I was there, at least that’s what the guys told me when I was on their porch and so many cars kept going slowly by. I have gone to two of their churches, and Fawn, (she’s a female chaplain who wears a covering on her hair that is always neatly pulled up, is only 4’11” and has a beautiful heart for the Lord) has went with me. I didn’t ask her to, but when she found out what I was up to, she didn’t want to miss out on a thing! We have had a great time worshipping with our brothers and sisters and even though we were the only white people in both churches, everyone made us feel extremely welcome.
So that has been my adventure for the past month, just asking the Holy Spirit each day to lead me. Its been a mission trip right here in America. I wasn’t going to share so many of the stories with you, but in the midst of all the political chaos, we need to know that God is on the move. He has not changed His mind about the ministry of reconciliation and still desires that we lift Him up so He can draw all men to Himself. Thank you so much for standing faithfully with me!
Have a blessed month in the Name of Our Lord Jesus!
Your sister in Christ,