Wowowow!! Just got back from attending the Basic Seminar graduation, where all the inmates who completed the seminar this week received both a certificate and a piece of cake! I was blessed to get to be up front with those who conducted the seminar along with Ruthie, Sophia, the Warden, Colonel and Chaplain Holyfield. I got to shake the hand of (130?) graduates who were just smiling from ear to ear with joy. Four girls even came up and gave a testimony of how God completely changed their lives that week. One girl said, “I don’t know about you, but I’m not the same person I was on Monday!” They were just so excited and constantly erupting in applause and cheering.
Before the certificates were handed out, the girls from the JOY dorm who were graduating from the seminar, got up and sang, “The Blessing Song” to the team of volunteers. Tears were shed to say the least. There was absolutely nothing like it. These ladies know what it means to give their all to Jesus. He’s all they have, and He’s all they want. “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much, but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:47)
Some of these ladies are sentenced to life, yet the joy of the Lord remains in them. They realize that their ministry is within the walls, for there are still many lost souls in there.
added October 14:
We went to an OIC (officers in charge) meeting this week to share about about the JOY program and to thank the captains, lieutenants, and sergeants, for making the program possible. I was able to help make this banner ahead of time for us to share at the meeting. It contains some info about JOY alumni (who have been released from prison), like where they love now and what their jobs are. It’s a way to show the success of the program and brag on God for the results. :)
making the banner:
the finished product:
It’s amazing to hear the stories of the inmates who I’ve gotten to speak with so far. Many times I will just be talking to one of the ladies for 5 minutes and she’ll just start opening up and crying and sharing how God is working in her life. These ladies love God much, because He has forgiven them much. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had where a lady will say, “I have experienced more peace and transformation in my life in the weeks I’ve been here (in the JOY program) then I ever have in the years I did rehab. It’s thrilling to hear woman after woman stand up and say, “I feel a peace and joy that no drug could ever give me!” Can you believe that?! We agreed that they should start telling people to save their money and come to God instead! :) After years and years of sin and struggle and drugs, women who meet God are becoming a completely different person in as little as a week. That’s God!! ☝🏼 🙏🏼
I love getting to spend time with the girls in the dorm. I’m responsible for the community side of the program, so I assign jobs and positions for the ladies, which allows me to get a lot of interaction and face time with them. I love it! It’s definitely stretching me out of my comfort zone, but I wouldn’t trade anything for the deep conversations and fellowship that have come from the job.
“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” Matthew 5:46-47
God’s been teaching me to step outside what I feel comfortable with (talking to “those I love”) and to just walk up to someone, introduce myself if we haven’t met, and ask about her life and how God’s working. I haven’t gotten turned away so far. :) They are excited to share about their walks with the Lord.
I can’t believe how incredibly creative the women in the dorm are. The other day, one of the ladies was showing me her collection of “trinkets”, little clippings she had cut out of magazines. Some of them had little quotes on them while others were just pictures of flowers or something seasonal like a snowman. She blesses others in the dorm by leaving the little pictures on someone’s bed when they’re going through a hard time, or just because!
It was really special to get to talk to one of the inmates who had recently lost her dad this year. She was so close to him, so of course she was still grieving his loss, but she didn’t blame God at all–even when she wasn’t able to attend the funeral. She recognized the ways that God had prepared her for her father’s death by giving her verses like Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” She kept saying how I reminded her of her daughter, who is around my age. She showed me her photo album and told me about her family. And then I asked what her daughter’s name is. Sure enough, her daughter and I have the same name! God works in amazing ways!
Thank you each SO much for your faithful prayers! If there’s one thing I’ve learned here, it’s the power of prayer. “We have not, because we ask not”. Our Father is more than willing to meet our every need (and more!) when we ask Him to, believing that He will!
Please Pray For:
-wisdom and understanding
-unity in the dorm
-meeting today with college students who will be offering reading tutoring to the dorm (a huge need!)
-our team (Ruthie, Sophia, and Katey)
-no distractions, but single focus on God
-humility and fear of the Lord
-God to open up the opportunity for JOY to have a second dorm for the program!
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)