Glory to God in the highest! Praise be to His blessed Name! Let our faith be stirred up as we remember how great and awesome He is! Galatians 6:9 tells us “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart”. It may seem like you’ve prayed the same thing over and over, or that a situation just isn’t changing but in Psalm 77, it tells us to remember the works of the Lord. Remind yourself of the situations where He has been faithful, even if you have to look all the way back to Moses! “Will the Lord cast off forever? And will He be favorable no more? Has His promise failed forevermore? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies? And I said, This is my anguish; But I will remember the years of the right hand of the Most High. I will remember the works of the Lord; Surely I will remember Your wonders of old. I will also meditate on all Your work. And talk of Your deeds. Your ways O God, is in the sanctuary; Who is so great a God as our God? You are the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples.” Psalm 77:7-14 See how the whole tone changes when you start recalling Who He is? You can start out questioning where He is, wondering if He is ever going to move again, but when you look back at all He has done, your faith stirs up and hope arises within your spirit.
Last night I pulled up some videos on YouTube of the charismatic movement of the 70s. Watching stadiums filled with people raising their hands to the Lord, tears streaming down some of their faces, stirred my faith up. What He did then, He can do again. His mercies are everlasting. He can certainly move across our nation and cause multitudes of hearts to return to Him. He can send His glory down in waves and open the eyes of those blinded by this world, to see the One who created it all.
I say all this after my own faith was wavering this past weekend when Patty and I went to the Luther Luckett men’s prison in Lagrange, Kentucky. I felt like we were the fishermen in the boat pictured at the top of this letter. From our understanding there were 29 volunteers going to meet us there. When we showed up on Saturday morning there were 4 others who showed up. Had it of been a chapel event, this would have been totally fine, but we were to minister on the open yard. So 6 of us went into a prison of 1200 men with a couple hundred of them on the yard at once. It seemed like a lot of fishing to be done with very few poles and not enough nets! Somehow the instructions had gotten mixed up and even though we were asked to be there that morning, when we were escorted out into the prison yard where the chaplain already was, he said, “I wasn’t expecting you but you’re welcome to walk around the yard and talk and pray with whoever you want to.” ????? (That’s what my brain said.) We had printed copies of the emails with us that said it was a 2-day yard event, and we could have made an enemy out of him by proving him wrong in front of the inmates with our written proof, but you have to choose between validating yourself or just taking the opportunity the Lord has put in front of you. He could just as easily have told us to leave and come back the next day. That morning was overwhelming enough, then in the afternoon, the chaplain gave out snow cones in the yard, which is an unheard of occurrence in prison, so there were literally hundreds of men that came out! There was no preaching. We simply walked, around and either sat with them at tables or talked to them standing up. The yard was huge. There was a baseball field, soccer field, volleyball area, weight bench area, and tables sporadically placed throughout. There was also an outside track that went around the whole thing. I spent some time walking the track the next morning with a few of them. The first group I walked with told me it was 2 laps to make a mile, then the next guy I walked with told me it was 3 laps. Either way, I did 7 laps that day, so I figured that was enough walking for about a week.
We often have in our mind what ministry should look like. That first day, it looked very unorganized. For the most part we split up because the task was so big and it looked like we could cover more ground if we had individual conversations than if we worked in pairs. You listen a lot in those situations. Patty and I always keep an eye out for one another and can recognize when we need to go to the other one, and sometimes we just get near one another so we can pass the guy we’re talking to off to the other one. (Patty’s got that down to a science!) By 3:00 pm, when the yard whistle blew for the men to go to their dorms, we were grateful to have made it through the day. I don’t know how many conversations a person should have with different people in a single day, but if there’s any legislation on the legal limit, I say it shouldn’t be more than 3!
The next day, including Patty and I, there were 20 of us that went in. During the morning time on the yard, we did the same as the day before and moved around talking and praying. During the afternoon, some of the team served hamburgers, chips, and cookies, while some of the team was doing music and speaking on the yard. Patty and I worked the yard, engaging men in groups and individually. There will always be a group of them around the PA system paying attention to the music and speakers, but there were literally hundreds of them standing off, as they stood and ate their food, where the sound of the service could not reach them. It was a blessed time of meeting brothers who knew the Lord and those who did not but were receptive to listen and glad to talk to someone.
The family of God is so important. The other 4 who came on Saturday morning were warriors. They didn’t complain or get bent out of sorts. Their attitudes were so much better than mine! They looked at that field like it was full of hidden treasure. Seeing their faith, stirred mine up. That’s why we need one another. Standing alone, feeling like you need to be an island, is a deceit of the enemy. We often think that if we don’t reach out to others, we’ll have less chance of getting let down. Often we put our expectations too high on how we expect others to be. None of us will ever have it all together in every area. But that doesn’t mean that each of us can’t be used by God. Patty can reach people who’d never receive it if I said the exact same thing to them. We all have different gifts, talents, ways of saying things, or of showing God’s love, that will uniquely touch someone. Don’t look at anyone and discount them for use in the kingdom, or for the way God will use them in your life. I can walk into a garage, see all the tools laying around, and think, “there’s nothing in here that can help me right now.” A man can walk into the same garage, see the very same things, and start thinking of all he can do with those same tools. Lets not be limited by our own vision, but ask God what He sees.
Let hope arise in your spirit. May you draw from the One who is everlasting with new mercy and fresh anointing. Dip your cup into the springs of living water and drink heartily. He is good. His plans have not changed. He will do what He has said He will do. Remind yourself of all His good works.
Your sister in Jesus,
Oct 3, 4, 5; Little Sandy Correctiional Facility, Sandy Hook, Ky
Oct 7; Faith Based Mentoring, Ft Wayne, IN (pm)
Oct 10: Family Court, as a mentor, Ft Wayne, IN
Oct 12: Stillwater Camp, Retreat for men dealing with addiction and previous incarceration, Yoder, IN
Oct 13: Women’s Work Release Center, Ft Wayne, IN
Oct 14: Faith Based Mentoring, Ft. Wayne, IN (pm)
Oct 19, 20; Westville Correctional Facility, Westville, IN
Oct 21: Hope Probation Court, Ft. Wayne, IN (am)
Oct 21: Faith Based Mentoring, Ft. Wayne, IN (pm)
Oct 24; Family Court, as a mentor, Ft Wayne, IN
Oct 28: Hope Probation Court, Ft. Wayne, IN (am)
Oct 28: Faith Based Mentoring, Ft. Wayne, IN (pm)