“Oh give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face evermore! Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgements of His mouth…” I Chronicles 16:8-12 Even His judgements are wondrous because through Jesus, He has judged us to be righteous! While reading the word this morning and coming upon the armor of God in Ephesians, I thought of how patiently this week, the Lord stood me up, and He, Himself, girded my loins with His belt of truth as He reminded me that He will not fail me and that all things will be made manifest by His light. He patiently put His breastplate of righteousness over my war weary clothes and whispered that the battle is not mine, but His. He shod my feet with His gospel of peace and unswervingly told me that He gives me peace not as the world gives, so don’t let my heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. He picked up the shield of faith, that I had so carelessly let fall under the bed, and put it back into my hand with the assurance that faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen, because everything that I do see, the trees, the ocean, the earth, was made by that which was not visible, and yet here it is, so surely I can trust Him to accomplish everything that He has sent His word to accomplish. As He straightened the helmet of salvation over my disheveled hair, He kissed my forehead and my heart rejoiced with the knowledge that He is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear. It was so easy then to pick up the sword of the Spirit, the living word of God, and to delight myself in it. Just like your own children, when learning to dress themselves, don’t always get it quite right, God doesn’t mind to come in and make the adjustments. I love Him for that!
This month was a turbulent whirlwind. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is hold on. The first weekend of the month we were at Little Sandy Correctional in Kentucky with about 1,000 inmates. The Lord’s strategy was phenomenal! He has the best plans. In this prison, we also give out snacks. However, we usually set up the snack table over by the chapel, and although a lot of inmates come over there to get them, it hasn’t seemed like an effective ministry time. Good but not great. This time, we set up over in front of the dorms, by the basketball court and literally hundreds of men were standing out there in lines, as well as all around the area. We had the sound system set up with a constant flow of musicians and speakers sharing testimonies, while individual volunteers were talking & praying with the men. It was like a heavenly carnival. The Spirit was flowing like living water. The presence of God was beautiful. I watched one young man standing with his arms folded in front of him for almost two hours listening intently to everything being said. Finally I made my way over to him and started a conversation with him. He told me how the Lord had delivered him from drugs in jail. He had been coming in and out for 8 years. But this time he knew the Lord was changing his life. However, he had only been at this facility a short time and didn’t want anyone to see him going to church. Since he was new, he didn’t have any reputation here and he didn’t want them to think he was weak. We talked about if you deny the Lord before men, He will deny you before His Father. Although he understood this, he still wasn’t convinced it’d be a wise move for him. That evening he didn’t come to our service. The next morning, we’re walking in, across the yard, and he was sitting at a picnic table. I said, “Hey, I didn’t see you at church last night.” He started to give me an excuse and I told him I didn’t want to hear it. It was Sunday morning, so we had to get straight to the chapel for the service. After a little while, in he came. At the end of the service we had baptisms. When the men who had signed up for baptisms were finished, Pastor William Bumpus, kept asking if there was anyone else who wanted to get baptized. Finally, this young man, stepped up to the plate! Afterward he told us how the Lord kept working on his heart after I’d walked by him. He had been waiting for another guy from another dorm to come outside and braid his hair, then it started raining, so he went back to his own dorm. He tried to get on the computer and the computer kept kicking him off. Then he went back to his bed area, and one of our male volunteers came on his dorm and started talking to them about coming to church. So he said, he threw his hands up and said “Okay, Lord, I’ll go!”
The weekend after that we had a retreat for some men from the halfway houses in our area at Stillwater Retreat in Yoder, IN. If you’re ever in the market for a great place to have a retreat, look them up! The men who came are in recovery from alcohol and drugs. A lot of them have been recently released from jail or prison. They loved being out in the woods! They fished, canoed, did team building activities, ate, ate, and ate some more, had testimonies and times of sharing. My friend, Johnny Hill, from Indianapolis, who did 38 straight years in prison, came and at almost 70 years of age, roasted a hot dog for the first time in his life! Darius D’Vine Wordz, also out of Indy, came ( who I believe did about 5 years in prison, and is now serving the Lord while working at the Wheeler Rescue Mission in Indy ((where Johnny also works)), and did some great christian rap for the guys. Who knew, that serving the Lord could be both fun and recreational!!!
The third weekend we were at Westville Correctional. A totally different weekend than the first two weekends of the month. I think that’s why we never tire of prison ministry. Every facility is different in set up, in what they will and won’t allow us to do, what type of program can be done, and how we are allowed to interact with the inmates. And yet God shows up. He is not put off by the conditions or limitations. When you see Him move on someone, when their eyes are enlightened by what the Spirit gives them understanding to, as a heart of stone turns into a heart of flesh and they allow themselves to feel the love of the Father, you realize it was worth the drive and totally worth jumping through the hoops.
Mom is so grateful for all the cards and prayers she has received that she wrote a note for you:
“ To My family in the Lord, all these years,
I love the family of God, and keep you in my prayers. Thank you for your prayers and all your cards and love for me.
I can hardly describe or explain this wonderful place where the Lord has me. He fills me full everyday with Himself, peaceful, free from pain, praising Him morning until night. I don’t understand it, I don’t really know why. I do know that He can love us more than we can ever stand it!
Many years ago, He gave me a dream. We were living downstairs, and one day I decided to go upstairs. I climbed the stairs and the first thing I noticed was the light, it was so full of light. Next, there was a kitchen so full of modern equipment, everything you could possibly need in a kitchen. Next was a room full of flowers, plants, trees, so much beautiful life. Next, the room was full of beds, all shapes, sizes, even one hanging from the ceiling. There were many resting places. I threw up my arms and said, “How come we’re not living up here?” This is where He wants me to live. I know the Lord gave me this dream. I have never forgotten it all these years. When you know He has given you a word, vision, dream, and you are sure it is from Him, I encourage you to watch over it, keep it, believe it. No matter how long it takes, He will bring it to pass and put you there. This is where I am now. I am overwhelmed. This is where He wants me to live, in His light, His provisions, His beauty, His rest.” Love, Jane
Isn’t that a beautiful dream! “14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:14-21 NKJV
We have so much to be thankful for!!! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Your sister in Jesus,