I remember the fear and insecurity I felt as I prepared to walk through the prison doors this past Sunday. I wasn’t sure how I would feel being there, I wasn’t sure I would be accepted, I wasn’t sure if I was safe, I wasn't sure of much. Except I was sure that the Lord had called me to go that Sunday night and love on ladies that were hurting and encourage and challenge them in the Word of God. So I was there.
It was a beautiful night, you could see the stars in the sky as we walked through the prison courtyard and made our way to the Chapel. It wasn’t what we are used to. The room was stuffy, it seemed like a small warehouse room but when we walked in there was a sense of anticipation of what would happen in the next few hours.
The offenders, as they are referred to by the guards, walked in single file and sat every other chair. The song “Blessed by the Name of the Lord” was playing loud on the speakers. Myself, Kaye Trickett, Lori Latham and Sandy Bell lined up to greet the girls as they came in. Kaye had told me that there is such a difference from the greeting to the farewell. You could see fear and insecurity in their eyes. I had prayed that the Lord would show me how to relate to them and connect with them. There in that moment I realized not much separated me from them. As the song continued over the speakers many of the ladies started clapping and singing. You could tell this is what they were longing for-- a drink of fresh and living water.
As Kaye opened up the night you could see the ladies relax and connect. Kaye shared that just 12 years ago she was where they were. You could see hope rise-- the Lord could do something great with their lives too. Sandy started us off praying the most God honoring prayer. Then Lori lead the ladies in worship. If they weren’t required to sit in their seats, I know they would’ve leapt around the room in praise to the Lord. It was the most beautiful expression of worship I have ever seen (ok, maybe it ties with the sweet orphans in Zambia).
As I walked up to the podium an incredible feeling overtook my body-- one of intense love for these women whose faces I was able to stare into for the first time. I remember thinking I could burst into tears I felt it so deep. The Lord lead us through a beautiful lesson of “Created for More.” We started off in Isaiah 43 and continued to discuss what it means when the Lord said, “I created you for My glory.” As we talked I could see that the ladies spirits were churning that the Lord was working in them. Eye contact wasn’t just out of respect, it was piercing. Tears were streaming down many faces, heads were nodding and cheers and claps were given often. The Lord was moving in the hearts of His beloveds.
Kaye had asked me to do an altar call of sorts at the end and I was hesitant. I have never liked it when preachers do that, I had always felt like if someone wanted to surrender to the Lord, He would lead them to it when it was time for them.
But at the end of it, without ever intending to we had the most incredible time of prayer. Every head was bowed. At first I asked any lady who was ready to surrender their life to the Lord for the first time to simply look at me. I encouraged them to bow to the One that was worthy and pray whatever was in their heart-- confess, acknowledge and praise Him. After some time I encouraged them to continue this and seek Him out for what’s next. Then I asked all the ladies that weren’t ready but wanted to give Him a chance to simply pray, “Lord make me willing to be willing to give you my life.” You could see the hardness and the brokenness in them. I hurt for them, but knew that He will come through in their life. And finally I asked all the ladies that were in the room that were believers but were struggling to look at me. I was almost knocked to the floor as at least 25 faces turned up to me. One of the greatest honors I’ve ever had in my life was being able to look in their eyes and pray endurance over them.
The night ended too quickly. As the ladies filed out we said goodbye to them at the door. Each one paused and said something to us, you could see that in a short hour and a half lives were changed... and mine was one of them.
Sometimes we think that we need to go around the world to really make a difference. I love that David and Kaye Trickett have started C.H.A.R.M. ministry and that it allows us to be a part of setting the captives free!