Thursday, April 14, 2016

Why I Go To Prison

(I wrote this last spring and thought that the time was right to share it with you. Or maybe am just becoming embarrassed at how little I'm posting here.)

 “Bye, Mom!” the children shriek from across the lawn. Ed is playing catch with the children on this lovely evening, and I'd like to join them. Instead, I slide into the van and drive to the detention center. I spend the evening behind concrete walls bent over my Bible with ladies whose scarred faces and tattooed arms will get no glimpse of smiling children running over green grass.

When I arrive home and help tuck the children to bed, I turn to Ed with thanks. “The women said that Wednesday evenings are their best evening of the week. Thank you so much for encouraging me to go to prison.”

Eight years ago, I would have been shocked to hear myself saying those words.
It all started one Sunday on the way home from church. So are you going to sign up?” asked Ed.

That morning a plea went out for church ladies to volunteer. For the previous five years, men from our church had held a weekly Bible study for the men at the detention center. Now we had been asked to hold a Bible study for the women at the same detention center. But that meant some of us women would need to get involved.

Do you think I can?” I asked Ed. “I like teaching children, but the few times that I've taught the women's Sunday School class, I've been so nervous that my hands shook. And they were my friends. Prisoners? I've always heard that female inmates are a coarse, hardened bunch. I don't know if I could.”

I'm not saying you have to,” said Ed, “but if you want to, I don't mind keeping the children so you can go.

Several months later, I joined about a dozen ladies from church in completing paperwork, background checks, and volunteer orientation. We nervously walked behind barbwire coils for the first time. 

And each of us were stretched, challenged, and encouraged by discussing the Word of God with the inmates.


Now, eight years later, I look forward to my evenings at prison. My turn comes around about once a month or so. I don't often have an evening away without my children, and the undistracted time to study God's Word is always a blessing. 

The inmates claim that we encourage them, but I'm certain I have gained more than I have given. 

(To be continued) 

Have you ever done something far out of your comfort zone - and been glad you did?

8 comments :

  1. Bless you! We always get more than we give, when we look deep at our actions. While the work I do is not as dire, I have learned lessons that I would have forgone by not working my position. I look forward to the continuation of this post.

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  2. All I know is just reading this " Part One" brought a absolute tear of joy and something I cant quite describe.. You are doing what so many will not.. or turn up their "modern Sadducee" nose at. BLESS YOU and THOSE WOMEN WHOM YOU SERVE TO LIVE FOR CHRIST

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  3. Blessings to you! You will not regret giving your time. And it does the children good to spend time withDad! I'm out of my comfort zone pretty often...! I must have a comfortable little box that I would just love to stay in!
    This past week it was speaking at a sisters sewing one day, and that evening riding in a van picking up/dropping off clubs children- a van full of hardened little ones who need someone to love them unconditionally...

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  4. Gina, could you please share what it is you share with the ladies in the detention center?

    I am thinking of how this could be something I could do. Where do you start with teaching the women? Is there an outline of subjects you begin with?

    I can just picture myself with several women asking all kinds of questions and me freezing up. I do good with speaking the truth but I admit, I have a hard time remembering references of where things are said in the bible. I do good with blueletterbible.org helping me locate them.

    Just trying to wrap my mind around how do get involved in something like this.

    Thanks for pricking my thoughts.(0:

    Suzie in NC

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    Replies
    1. We take turns leading the Bible study. We each choose our own topic. It is hard for us to follow a book or do some kind of series because our Bible study is in a detention center and the women who come to the study are often there for only short term. There is a constant change in who attends the study. If we were having a Bible study at a long-term facility, we could do something more indepth. So basically the lady in charge just prepares a Bible study on whatever topic the Lord has laid on her heart. Sometimes, the women's questions turns the discussion in another direction. Sorry I can't be more helpful.

      As far as how we began the Bible study at the detention center, the youth at our church had asked the detention center if they could come and sing to the inmates. The warden said that what they really needed was volunteers to come and hold a Bible study. So we felt like it was an open door that we needed to walk through. The men had a Bible study for several years before we women began a study for the woman's side. If you are interested in volunteering in a prison, contact the prison chaplain and find out how you can help. It is challenging but rewarding.
      Gina

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  5. You are involved in a wonderful, fulfilling, blessed work. I know...because the ladies in our church go for lunch, singing, and heart-to-heart sharing at a Recovery House for women who are getting help for addictions of all kinds, most commonly prescription drugs, street drugs, and alcohol. Some of these women came as recently as the day before, so yes, it is a work that causes some to totally step out of their comfort zone. Sadly, some never do go. It's been a while since I've been there, but the joy and blessings I receive when I take my turn, is so indescribable! I long for everyone to experience what you, what we, are privileged to be part of. It has been a real stepping stone in my Christian life. Also, those dear ladies absolutely LOVE when we come! Having lunch first, together with them, is a nice ice-breaker. We eat what their cook makes, plus we provide the dessert. They seem to look forward to that! ;-) They love, love, love to sing, and it's always amazing how many of them do know those sacred old hymns. And, then, the sharing, the questions....such a special time. I need to go again....just convinced myself that I do have time, just by typing out these words. :-)

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  6. Thanks so much for sharing! I came across your blog by "accident" looking for how to plant a sweet potato that is sprouting on my counter and found your entries about planting God's love in a prison! I am involved with the beginning stages of planting a congregation in a women's prison near where I live and have been praying about many of the things you write about! Thank you for sharing! God provides us with what He calls us to, and your blog is an answer to my prayer and part of His provision! Blessings & Joy on your journey of following Christ!

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I'm still learning how to be a joyful homemaker and I'd love to hear from you!

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