One Sunday morning, I asked the Lord if there was someone at church He wanted me to meet. I walked into the building, said hello to a friend and she said, “There’s a lady you need to meet.”
As I introduced myself to Lisa, we began to chat. Later in the week she came to visit and one thing we talked about was women’s prison ministry.A few weeks later, Lisa and I made our way to four women’s prisons in the state of Texas.
The women we met never dreamed as children they would end up in prison. They had made wrong choices and were now suffering the consequences. They knew what they had done wrong, God knew what they had done wrong and so did everyone else. There was no hiding.
When I got home, I began to wonder what the difference was between these women and women sitting in the church. They had been stripped “naked” so to speak. Then I was reminded of T.D. Jakes’ book, “Naked and Not Ashamed: We’ve Been Afraid to Reveal What God Longs to Heal.” Jakes stresses the fact unless we are willing to come clean before God, and sometimes before others, there can be no healing. Scripture tells us, “Confess your sins one to another that you might be healed.” James 5:16 That verse doesn’t mean to broadcast them to a watching world, but perhaps having a few or one close confident we might share our lives with.
These women had already been exposed, with nothing to hide. There were no fancy clothes. They were all required to wear white. They had no jewelry, no fancy purses or shoes and they weren’t even allowed to hug one another like we do in the church. They were required to sit one seat between them during chapel, unless they were on lockdown or death row. They spend days locked away for hours, days, months or years at a time. They didn’t go shopping anymore, to the grocery store, drive a car, nor did they go to lunch with a friend. There weren’t always phone calls, and when made, they were costly. They may have a visit from a family member or a friend, but even that time is limited.
As we talked, sang songs and prayed with them, we saw their faces as God touched them. Were they touched because we had come? Perhaps. Was it because of a word, a song, or maybe a touch? Or was it because someone else greater was in the room? Yes, God was there and He came in powerful ways. Not only were these ladies touched, but, so were we. In fact, my friend Lisa walked away sensing God was telling her she was a prisoner of her own heart.
What made this privilege and opportunity to serve so special? It seemed noone came with their own agenda or preconceived ideas. We had never done prison ministry before. We just wanted God to manifest Himself, but we weren’t exactly sure how. We just wanted to see God work in the lives of the women. Little did we know what He was going to do in us?
That Sunday, as we approached the chapel, the Spirit brought to mind the song, “I’m in the Lord’s Army. I’m in the Lord’s army. I may never march in the infantry, fight in the calvary, shoot the artillery. I may never fly over the enemy, but I’m in the Lord’s army.” It caused me to ponder about the unseen world and the enemy and. how we as believers need to be aware of Satan’s tactics and what we have available to us in the fight.
We realized the spiritual battle before us and we could not fight alone, but through the power of His Holy Spirit, His Word and through prayer for the lives of these women taken captive by the enemy. God wanted these women free, maybe not from their physical prison, but the mental, emotional and spiritual prisons on the inside. I believe some found freedom in Christ that day.
Sometime after our visit to the prisons I saw the movie, “The Gospel.” One line stood out to me, “We should spending a little less time looking good and try to be good.” I agree, but it is Christ in us who makes more like Him and less like us. There is no one good, whether sitting in a prison or in the pew. These ladies needed Jesus Christ just as we do as women in the church.
There is to be no hiding from God. He longs for us to come just as we are, admitting our need for Him to cleanse us daily as His daughters.
We’ve spent hundreds of dollars on makeup, jewelry, pretty clothes, health products and shopping at malls, etc. It’s not just the items we purchase, but it’s the time invested with finding just the right things to make us look good. I can’t help but wonder if we’d spend more time alone with our Father would He not give us an inner beauty that reflects on the outside?
This isn’t meant to condemn us as women. Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world, but to set us free from our evil tendencies to make an impression on others or maybe even to try and cover up what He so longs to reveal and heal.
A young lady once said to me at a retreat, “Mrs. Salcher, God’s not looking for women who have their act together, but He’s looking for women who know their act is over.” Maybe during this time of the CV19, as we look into the mirror of God’s Word, He’ll show us more of what needs to be removed in our lives to make us look more like Him. I want that and I hope you do too.