Yesterday was a "jail" day. I spent the afternoon at Fraser Valley Institution doing my weekly Bible study in the maximum security unit and then had a meeting with the chaplain and the inmates on the chaplaincy committee. We're planning to show the movie The Nativity one evening next month for all of the women incarcerated there.
In the evening I went to the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women for my bi-weekly visits with several of the inmates through M2W2 (see link for more info). As always it was a blessing and always God showed up. I met with three women, one I've been visiting for six months now, and two that I have only visited once before. Each visit was amazing and each woman was amazing too; every one of them is a follower of Christ. Some people find it difficult to believe that anyone who knows Christ could end up serving jail time, but most of the women I've met in the penitentiaries have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. They may not be walking with Him, but they know Him. Part of my "assignment" is to point them back to God and encourage them to pray and read their Bibles every day. During each visit I pray with them and God is always faithful to answer our prayers and to demonstrate His love and His care in amazing ways that let them know that He truly is there for them.
I've seen big changes in L since I first met her six months ago. At that time her thinking was still "stinking"; she was still caught up in the insanity and denial of addiction and she did not possess much wisdom for making healthy decisions pertaining to her future. However, as she's turned her life over to God more and more, her mind is being renewed. Last night she told me that she prayed and surrendered her life and all of her circumstances to God. Yay! And very soon she will be going to trial and may be released into the care of the kind and loving staff at Teen Challenge. Praise God!
D is another story. She's going to be released very soon as well. Her release will probably be conditional - she will have to go into treatment for drug addiction. That's good and proper, but she wants to be able to live at home and do her treatment through a day program. That would probably set her up to fail since she will be returning home to a partner who is a drug dealer. That's what I mean by the insanity and denial of addiction. D hasn't got enough clean time and hasn't strengthened her relationship with God enough to have had a change of heart and mind. She wants to stay clean and sober, but her desire is not strong enough to resist the temptations that are going to be all around her if she tries to do her treatment while living at home. I pray that God will guide her to the right treatment facility - she was talking about a very good Christian one - where she can recover in safety and protection, away from the influence of the drug culture.
Then there's A. She's a ray of light - Christ's light - but doesn't know it yet, although there is hope in her heart. She's been about as far down and as far out as you can go in addiction. The ravages of street life still show in her face and on her body, but there is also a beauty and an intelligence that shines through. During her last relapse, God gave her several visions of hell that were so real. She says it is horrible beyond anything we could ever imagine. These visions have helped her; she wants to walk with God and I believe that He has a wonderful plan to use her for His Kingdom purposes. She has gifts and abilities that He can use to rescue others from the brink of hell, and her brightness and intelligence will help her to learn quickly all that He wants to teach her.
It amazes me how God uses broken down "worthless" people (like me) to work out His plan of salvation. And I'm so thankful that He sends me to encourage women who find themselves cast out, and thrown on the garbage heap of society. There is a "poverty of spirit" present in these women that causes them to be open to God, and that allows God's power to come to bear in their circumstances: "Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven".
Thankfully, God looks beyond what we see with our eyes and values those who seem to have no use or no worth according to our wordly standards. A verse from When It's All Been Said and Done, a song that Robin Mark recorded, comes to my mind as I write this and I'll close with its lyrics. But first I ask you to please pray for these three women and for all the other valuable souls who find themselves in prison today. God loves each one of them and has a plan for each of their lives. May they come to know His love in all the fullness of its power to heal and transform lives. Thank you.
Lord, Your mercy is so great
That You look beyond our weakness
And find purest gold in miry clay
turning sinners into saints