When I chose to go on a missions trip this past fall and serve the female inmates in prison, I got the same question over and over again before I left.
It’s a valid question. There are a thousand different places to minister in. A million needs in the world to meet. So why did I say YES to prison?
The simple answer is that I just felt called. I had begun to be drawn to broken people and hurting hearts like never before. I wanted to go where truth was hungered for. Most of all, I craved to be where Jesus was. I begged to see His face…to walk where He was walking. To go where He was moving.
It’s not every day that someone from the free world gets to visit prison…even for volunteering. So when I said yes to this crazy, amazing opportunity to serve behind bars, I had no idea what was ahead for me. We went through some training. We were briefed about some “what ifs”. In the back of my head, there was also a few pre-conceived ideas. The truth was, I walked into it naively. I just knew I was called…and I had spent too much of my year fighting Jesus. So I just wanted to BE WITH HIM.
Ever feel like God is calling you into deep waters? Waters so deep that even your tippy-toes can’t touch the bottom? That’s what I felt like. Nothing is worse than feeling unprepared. Unequipped. Small. Like you were picked by mistake.
I remember the feeling of tension in my heart. Why me, God? I don’t even know what I’m doing. I haven’t even ever visited someone in prison before so how can I possibly do this blindly?
The Thursday before our first week in prison, Maryellen and I had the evening off from work and training, so we decided to participate in an online prayer service with thousands of women all across the world. I could feel my emotions building up and I knew I needed to sit at the feet of Jesus.
Half way through the prayer service, one of the leaders got up and encouraged us to have a time of confession. We were supposed to share with the friend next to us and pray to confess our sin.
It hit me like a ton of bricks. God put His finger right into my heart and exposed my disbelief. My tears flowed freely. I turned to Maryellen and shook my head, trying to regain my composure. “I’ve been going through this whole trip thinking God picked the wrong girl.”
Ever been there? You simply can’t be courageous without belief. You can’t live brave without faith in Jesus and His overall plan. He’s got this.
Confessing my sin of disbelief and fear to my friend was the first step to living brave and FREE. She prayed for me, as I sat there and cried bucket loads. Then I went before Jesus myself. He is full of forgiveness and compassion. Forgive me Lord for my disbelief. For my heart of fear. Thank you, Father for picking me. You’ve got this.
“I keep the Lord in my mind always, Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8, HCSB)
I walked into that first prison still naïve. No doubt I looked like a cow at a new gate walking through all those fences that first day. I had the newbie look in my eyes.
What I didn’t have was debilitating fear. Disbelief in God’s power. I didn’t walk in doubt. I walked in boldness, not in my abilities…but because HE IS ABLE. He’s got this.
Courageous people don’t feel invincible. They just trust Jesus enough to know: what He calls us to, He will equip us for. Consider it done, friend.
He’s got this.