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.