Today we are on another adventure to an institution, this one requires more journey time. We get up early some of us 5:30 am to leave 7:30 am so we can arrive on time 4.5 hrs. later. I must say that today will have to go like clock work, in order to accomplish what we have set out to do. In our team is Brent. B, Jim L., Bill M., and our minstrel Becka T. Half way on our journey we receive a call from Mike C. Ah, the benefits of technology. Mike has called to pray for mission mercies for today’s visit, he is a highly valued member of our team, and would normally be with us, but is in hospital.
Good times when ministering, to know we can be supported in this manner. Just think, if we can be located via technology that easily, how much more easily does our Heavenly Father find us. He knows our name also and has been with us on all these adventures.
Arrival at our destination requires picking up a fifth, local volunteer, Robert V., who has been a ‘gift’ to this area. Jesus once said, “Do not fear to speak up I have many people in this city.” God will always have His people strategically placed and so it is with Robert V.. He has established a credibility that is so refreshing to witness in the institution. He is a man who has a heart for the down trodden in society and considers the poor.
Once we have him in the van we head to our destination, this requires a lot of lugging. To do a trip such as this requires time, gas, meals, books, piano or guitar, cookies, and possibly soda, these visits also require physical effort. Not something one continues to do if they are not called to do it. Personally I can’t imagine never doing this, I sense such a blessing and sense of accomplishment each visit.
After the van is unloaded and we are cleared, we proceed to the meeting room and set up. Robert V. is a veteran at this, and as soon as we have everything set up and hooked up, he gives the signal for the inmates to come in.
I have noticed that quite often personalities will march in almost triumphant with perhaps the best demeanor they can muster. However once the Holy Spirit begins to minister this all changes. I quote one of our members who once said, “The lions are marching in but when the time comes to go they walk out like lambs.” Such is the soothing presence of the Holy Spirit in the house.
Today will be a banner day in that regard. A wonderful experience in return for so long a journey, I think to myself. We will divide our meeting into 4 separate packages to facilitate the institution structure. Brent will open, Becka will minister in music, Jim will bring the message and and Bill will give a brief testimony, then Brent does the wrap up.
The first inmates come in, strapping lads who show their scars and weariness of a hard lifestyle, men who for circumstances no different than in our own lives have been incarcerated, and are now in a hard place where it requires one to show hardness to survive.
Our minstrel, Becka, begins her set of 3 songs. I notice immediately the atmosphere is changing within our midst. About halfway though the song, an inmate is sobbing, not crying, but sobbing. I can’t hold back either nor others, there is such a tender presence of God among us. He knows our needs as well as our names, we have but to yield to Him. God is not shackled, nor is He held by bars. God is a ‘wall walker’, only He can walk through the walls of our prisons and heal our tortured and tired hearts.
During that meeting there is contrition and humbleness of heart. God has met with us in that hour. We have a brief fellowship time, sharing cookies and soda, and then must re-muster for the next group, as time is well accounted for in the Church behind bars.
Continued tomorrow…. Blessings Bill McLaughlin