Laughter…

~ * ~

Last night for Jail Church, we did something very different. We like to do a variety of stuff for the ladies so church doesn’t seem so mundane. We showed a Christian Comedy DVD.

It was sooo wonderful to hear the girls in full on bellyful laughter. It was sooo wonderful for their spirits just to forget their circumstances for a moment and feel ‘normal’. They loved it. I loved it, too.

We had a wonderful time of sharing and prayer afterwards… even through our silliness, the Holy Spirit was there – working… moving… loving.

We set a record… there were 18 ladies in attendance last night. God has a way of drawing the ladies to me… they want to be near me. The funny thing is… it really has nothing to do with me… it’s all Jesus. I’m nobody special. I’m just so very thankful to be working for Him.

There is talk that I will be chosen as the new leader for our women’s prison ministry team. I’m ready for it… I’ve got the training… the people skills… and the passion.

Love always,

Rachel

Behind the Walls…

~* ~

“You took my shame away…” she said as hot tears rolled down her cheeks.

Deb has been living in our county jail for eight months. She’s lived through eight months of stuffy jail cells in the summer time, very cold temperatures during the winter, short tempers, ever present hunger, women striking out at her, women telling lies about her… eight months of hell.

… and through all of this hardship – Deb completely and soulfully loved and still loves Christ.

Deb has a thirst for Christ I’ve never seen before. She reads her Bible every day and finished reading the entire Bible in 7 months. Not just reading it… but underlining important passages, making notes about verses, and pondering and thinking about what she read. Her Bible is falling apart.

Deb finally had her court date. For the first time in years, the judge took compassion upon an inmate and surprisingly suspended part of her sentence. He also ordered her to complete a 2-year college degree instead of ordering her to hold a job in prison. By the time all was settled – she will serve less than 2 years for a 12 year sentence. God has plans for Deb.

Backtrack – My prison ministry partner Pam and I have history with Deb. Deb’s 17 year old daughter died about two months ago. Pam and I went to the funeral to support Deb. We stood by her as her family hugged her… she was wearing a tattered baggy dark blue jail uniform. Tears took the place of pretty makeup, shackles and ugly plastic slippers took the place of pantyhose and high heels. The jail captain did not give her permission to go to her daughter’s grave site, so Pam and I went to witness the burial of her precious daughter.

Fast forward – Pam and I visited Deb last Thursday. We are not sure when we will see her again. The officers never tell us when inmates will be transported to prison. Sometimes they are taken right away and sometimes they will wait for weeks for the dreaded bus ride down to state prison.

Deb wanted to make sure she said her goodbyes. “I want you girls to know – it meant so much to me when you went to my daughter’s funeral. I felt normal… like I had someone on my side.” Tears which brimmed her eyes were now spilling over and freely falling down her cheeks. “You took my shame away…” she sobbed, “… it was almost like I had my own cheerleaders telling me I could make it.”

I believe Deb can make it on the outside. I believe she will make it. She’s got God on her side…

… and I will continue to encourage the ladies who live behind the walls until the day I die.

Love always,

Rachel