People are always surprised when they hear I am involved in prison ministry.
To be honest, I never gave it a second thought until early 2009, when I had a life changing experience during a time of prayer. It’s hard to put into words exactly what happened because it was a spiritual experience, but what seemed like a weight came down on me like a ton of bricks, and I felt what seemed like the hearts of a million broken women, alone in a jail cell, crying out for help. It impacted me so deeply, and I knew that God was speaking to me about a new direction I was to take. I began studying the Scriptures to find what God has to say about prisoners, and found the Bible is full of verses about these people, and how we are supposed to help them.
“…to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.” – Isaiah 42:7
I knew this meant opening their spiritual eyes, bringing truth and hope to the darkness of their minds… bringing the light and freedom found in Christ to their darkest place.
Eventually I took the steps to get trained in prison ministry and began teaching at a local jail. Over the years, I have met the nicest, most endearing women who simply made some wrong choices in life. Many were physically and sexually abused as children, and neglected and abandoned by people who were supposed to love them. Now that I think about it, I’ve never come across a single woman who said they had a great life and just decided one day to become a prostitute or meth addict.
Many would say they get what they deserve. They did the crime and they need to do the time. And it is true, they do need to pay for what they did, justice must be served. But God also wants to bring justice to their lives. The enemy has stolen from them. Whether it was by the hands of someone else or through their own foolish choices, horrible things have happened in their lives. They live in spiritual darkness. They need help!
Like Paul says in Romans 10:14: “How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”
God loves these people just as much as He loves me. He loves their children just as much as He loves mine. And Jesus died to forgive their sins just like He died to forgive mine. No one is better or worse in God’s eyes. The second I start to think I am better than they are, it’s all over. A spirit of humility goes hand-in-hand with prison ministry, because but for the grace of God, there go I.