Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I was in prison and you came to visit me

Visited Alouette Correctional Centre for Women last night with about ten other women from W2 (Woman to Woman, a restorative justice ministry). What a blessing it is to represent the Son of God in that place!

Denise, one of the women I have been visiting for a few months, is being released next week and I'm happy to report that she's ready! I've watched her grow in Jesus by leaps and bounds, and have witnessed the renewing of her mind as well. She reads her Bible, does a devotional study, and prays to God every day. She will be living in a Christian house for women for the first few months.

Last night she was peaceful and full of hope for the future. I know that God's hand is on her and that if she stays close to Him He will lead her along the path that He has chosen for her - and I believe her calling is to minister to other women. It was amazing to witness how the other women are drawn to her, and how loving and compassionate she is towards even the rudest and most hardened of them. Even those who violate her space and bully her, she is able to view with compassion and she has learned to deal with each violation with wisdom and mercy.

Recently several women from her home town joined her at the institution and they are amazed at how much she's changed. One of them told me what she used to be like and about the differences she sees in her now. They are drawn to her now because of the life, beauty and peace of Jesus living in her. When I prayed for her at the end of our visit, several women who know Denise came and kneeled down or sat beside her and put their hands on both of us. It was an amazing moment, and God touched each one of them. They brushed away tears afterward because they felt the love and the presence of God as we prayed.

Each time I visit Denise, she relates to me stories of how God has answered the prayers we pray when we are together. This week the most amazing answer to prayer was that one of the worst bullies at ACCW, who was continually persecuting Denise, has begun attending chapel services with her on Sundays and her heart is being softened! Our prayer for this woman two weeks ago was that God would turn her heart to Him so that she could receive the healing she needs, and come to know His love. Thank You Lord that You answered our prayer with a miracle!

Would you please pray for Denise as she leaves the prison and returns to her old stomping grounds. There will be many temptations and the devil will try to convince her that she hasn't changed - he's already been trying that through her dreams. My prayer is that she will remain in Jesus' love as He tells us to do in John 15. If she can just hold on to Him and His love, I know that she'll be allright. Also, if you would pray for Devon, the young mom, and her son. Devon is becoming discouraged and for the first time I see the beginnings of hardening happening in her heart, probably because of her father's recent rejection of her. Also, her baby has an ear infection and he's been very cranky lately.

Father please heal Devon's baby's ear infection and help her to trust that You love her and will never leave her. And please shelter Denise under Your wing as she goes out into the world again. Thank You for the miracles You've done in her and for the miracles You've shown her while she was in prison. Strengthen her heart and build up her faith, surround her with godly people who can encourage her and support her, and lead her in Your paths of righteousness. I pray in Jesus' Name.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Our daily bread

It's been amazing to watch how God provides for the day to day and ministry expenses of the Partners in Hope Recovery Society. Last week Elsie, our director, was wondering how "on earth" we were going to make the mortgage payment this month. I offered to give her the $250 I got from St. John's Duncan to go towards my own financial support, but she wouldn't take it. She told me to give it to Church Army for my support, that she trusted God to bring in the money we needed for the mortgage. Then last week as the payment came due, some money came in through donations which covered the mortgage payment for another month. Elsie was amazed, but she told me that this scenario has been played out on a monthly basis since she started this ministry twelve years ago.

Then, last Friday afternoon, she discovered that the neck of her guitar was irreparably broken. She was a little ticked off and discouraged, but decided to go ahead and put out $150 to buy a used one from a downtown eastside pawn shop that is closing out. She needed a guitar that evening to practice music for Sunday's services at St. Simon's and Immanuel. When she arrived at music practice Friday evening, the woman who was playing keyboards told her that she had just received a small unexpected windfall and that the Lord had impressed on her heart to donate $150 of it to Elsie and her ministry! God is so cool!

Jesus teaches in Matthew 6:25-34 that we should focus on God and the things of His Kingdom, and not become distracted by the needs we have from day to day, even the basic needs such as food and clothing. He exhorts us to trust God to provide what we need each day.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink...Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? ...So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' ...But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."

The famous "one day at a time" principle taught by Alcoholics Anonymous comes from this same passage: "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

It's a beautiful thing to be able to live each day without worry, resting in the knowledge that what Jesus said in Matthew 6 is true, and that the promises of God are unfailing. Of course, we have to do our part - letting go of our worries and focussing on Him instead of what we need - in order to see His promises come true. That's the hard part, until you begin to witness His hand as He blesses and provides. The good news is that we can trust Him; He is worthy of our trust.

Oh, and if you're looking for the pot at the end of the rainbow, I think you might be disappointed...

Jesus in jail

Thankfully, and in answer to our prayers, there's been a change in the number of women attending Sunday chapel at the Fraser Valley Institution; six last week and four this week. It's wonderful to see the chapel at least partly filled with women, and to be able to worship together with them; they love to sing. Today the power and the knowledge of the Lord's presence softened hard hearts - even to the point of tears and sniffles - as Wendy, the chaplain, led us in worship and preached the Word and I led us in a time of prayer.

One of the women I was with one-on-one a couple of months ago when I led chapel in Wendy's absense has moved from the maximum security unit to the general population. It's amazing to see how radiant she is as she grows in the knowledge of God's love for her - thanks to the chaplain's patient and anointed ministry. She has softened incredibly and her smile stretches from one ear to the other. It's such a blessing to be greeted each week by a huge bear hug as she tells me how happy she is to see me. What a change from a couple of months ago when she sat in chapel, sullen and non-responsive except to express sarcasm or anger. I'm thankful that through the ministry of the Holy Spirit God allowed me to see past her self-protective defences to her heart. It's so amazing to see the transformation that occurs when people who are lost and hurting give their lives into God's hands.

For the past two Sundays I've been able to witness Wendy's ministry to the women in the the maximum security unit, and even the segregation unit. The issues she deals with are often difficult to resolve, except through prayer, as they can result from the obsessive needs of women whose psyches have been twisted by abuse, violence and addiction. The good news is that God is there and He's working, patiently drawing these women into relationship to Himself through Jesus. Today I had a conversation with one of the guards who is kind and merciful, while still remaining firmly in control. She sees the hearts of the women and has compassion for them. I'd like to be more like her, actually. Unmistakably in control, yet maintaining a gentle, kind, open heart, and a sense of humour the same time.

I am thankful to those of you who've been praying for me, and I'm happy to report that both here at the house, as well as in the prisons, I am finally beginning to feel more confident and able to assume the authority that comes with my role and position. Of course I'm a work in progress, and there is still much that the Lord wants to do in me. But, it's truly a testament to God's transforming power that I have remained willing to persevere through the difficult times. In the past (BC: before Christ) I would have quit when things got hard, believing that it wasn't meant to be. Now I know that all I need to do is surrender my life and my circumstances to God, and to trust and obey Him. Like the song says, there's no other way - and the beauty is, it's just that simple.

Oswald Chambers speaks eloquently to this subject in the November 14 devotional reading from My Utmost For His Highest: When once God's Redemption comes to the point of obedience in a human soul, it always creates. If I obey Jesus Christ, the Redemption of God will rush through me to other lives, because behind the deed of obedience is the Reality of Almighty God.

May we walk in faith always, trusting that our Heavenly Father, Almighty God, is in control, and obeying His guidance so that His redemption can rush through us to bear much fruit by redeeming the lives of those around us.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Song of Songs 1:3 Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out.

I went out for a walk around the neighbourhood this evening. It's a beautiful, warm, peaceful summer evening. We had some rain earlier today and so the air smells fresh and clean, but there was also the heavy, beautiful scent of roses in the air. It was captivating, and I couldn't help but thank God and give Him praise for creating such a beautiful and fragrant plant as the rose.

I spoke to Connie on the phone today. She's still in the hospital, and today she seems to be doing better. I believe that this is the next step in the healing process for her, not only psychologically, but physically as well. While she is there, the doctors are addressing physical problems and damage to her body that she's been living with for some time now, and wasn't able to address while she was living on the streets and active in her addiction. Please continue to pray for her as she is no longer willing to work her recovery. She believes that she's already learned everything to learn and it didn't help her. But, obviously, if she knew it all already, she would be able to keep from relapsing after three months.

Andrea is doing well. Although she's a reluctant disciple, there is a willingness to learn and to ask questions, and today I was able to see progress and growth in her interactions with me during our study session.

We will be welcoming another woman into the house at the beginning of next month. There's always a little (or a lot) of tension when this happens as we get to know the new person and get used to having another person occupying space here.

I'm still thankful to be here. Elsie, Mun Hee and I had a prayer meeting this morning. We want to make time to pray more so that we are bathed in the glory of God's presence, and able to minister in the power of the Holy Spirit. Please pray for us, that we would be able to find and make the time to do this; the busy-ness of everything there is to do at the house, as well as the meetings and outreach that we do, often robs us of being able to spend time in God's presence.

Thank you for reading this, and for praying. May the Lord bless you in all goodness and fill you with His peace that passes all understanding.


Saturday, July 7, 2007

Power in the rest

God is so good, and He knows what's best for us. And when we give Him permission to be in control of our lives, He works all things for good. That's what He's done in the situation with Connie. She didn't go to Belkin House. The hospital had her assessed by a psychiatrist before they released her, and as a result, she is spending a few weeks in hospital so that her mental health issues can be addressed and she can be stabilized on medication. I believe that this is the next step in her recovery - and God knew this is what she needed now in order to be able to go forward in her healing and recovery from addiction.

Andrea is doing well. She's discovering her gifts and, in spite of the resistance of her "flesh", drawing closer to Jesus, as He continues to draw her closer to Himself. She is a sweet girl.

I am feeling exhausted today. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are always very busy here because of all of the different things that we do - outreach, food co-op, meetings, etc. - and I guess that, added to the stress of last weekend, it's all caught up with me. I hope to be able to rest today and remain quiet, hopefully to have some solitude. I know that all I need is some time to rest in the arms of my Father; and to drink deeply of the Living Waters.

I'm grateful that I can trust God in all circumstances, to bring about the best result for everyone involved, and also to bring healing and comfort and strength to those in need. My God is a good God, and my Daddy is a loving Daddy.

Monday, July 2, 2007

All's quiet on the western front

Thank you all for your prayers for those of us at the Women of Hope house. Things have settled down. Andrea is safe and doing fine; she will be returning to us very early tomorrow morning. I'm actually thankful to God that she wasn't here last night to witness Connie's erratic behaviour because it was a very difficult and stressful few hours.

Earlier today I learned that Connie was going to be going to Belkin House, a wonderful Salvation Army shelter and a place of refuge and healing for those who are seeking recovery from drug addiction. We love Connie and want to stay involved in her life and recovery, and we want her to come back to us too, but she'll have to have 30 days of continuous sobriety before she can do that. I pray that she will avail herself of the counselling and discipleship opportunities that are available at Belkin House.

Mabel's fine, and Mun Hee and I are tired but grateful. I feel blessed and am thanking God for giving us His peace. I'm also thankful that He gives courage, wisdom and strength in times of trouble. Praise You, Father!

In Christ,


Please keep us all at the Women of Hope house in your prayers. It has been a very difficult and stressful weekend, and Connie is in a full blown relapse. She was awol all weekend, but tonight after she returned I had to call 911 because of her behaviour which was threatening the safety of the rest of the women here at the house. I'm so sad that she's returned to her old ways and I pray that she will return to the bosom of the Lord quickly. Andrea, who is fairly new, is also struggling right now and has broken the rules. I don't know what is going to happen with her. She's gone too and I have a feeling that she may not come back. Elsie's away and so Mun Hee and I are dealing with all of the chaos and crises the best we can. I feel ill equipped, but God is giving strength and guidance, and, thankfully, even peace. Thank You, Father.

And as for good news, I had the privilege of seeing a gospel performance by Jim Byrnes, and also the Blind Boys of Alabama, last night. The Blind Boys were one of the featured acts at the Vancouver Jazz Festival and the coolest thing about the concert was that every song carried the message of the good news about Jesus Christ! Thousands of people heard it! The Blind Boys aren't shy about talking about their faith either.

God is on His throne. Hallelujah!