God the Great Gardiner

gardenerMinistries go through various seasons, just like gardens do.  There is a time to plant and a time to water.  A time to fertilize and a time to weed, then comes the harvest.  One thing about harvest, there is always more fruit and seed yielded, than what was planted.  Sort of a win-win situation if everything has been done correctly.  Today we will sow, much like Johnny Appleseed, and the Lord will determine what season this crop today will be in.  That will determine our role as ministers behind the bars.

So off we go, the four of us, Brent B., Matt M., Miles B., and Bill M.  No trip is ever much under 2.5 hours one way, and it’s the same with this one.  We arrive and prepare to unload and unpack what we need in the institution. Then we must clear security, the very nature of our environment dictates these terms and conditions.  We are ever grateful for the many men and women who work in these institutions to maintain safety and order.  Without their expertise, we would not be able to do what we do.  Today we will be in a range.  A range is what was formerly referred to as a cell block.  Not only do the doors slam behind, but there is a characteristic reverberation that makes the sitting area ‘live,’ and each sound is personified with the least of activity, giving that echo chamber effect.  The doors slamming in this chamber resound with a vibrating stacatto.

We have Miles B. our faithful troubadour who can make a guitar ring with rhythm.  He has a God given talent to ‘know’ what songs to pick.  I liken this to ploughing the soil to soften it for planting the seeds.  We can ‘feel’ a softening of the atmosphere as our ploughman sings and plays through the soil of their hearts.  When Miles finishes, Brent announces who we are.

We are PRISON CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES.  We do approximately 28 visits a month, besides a Book Ministry, a Pen Pal ministry, African outreach.  We are developing an ex-inmate refuge house, called the Jesus House, as well as fundraising events most weekends.  We put on about 6000 Km a month… No life like it…:)!!!

Next Matthew, our newest and possibly youngest member of the team gives his message of hope and love, the inmates not only have softened but there are tears beginning to flow, that is a good sign to us.  They are listening and being touched by the Holy Spirit as Matthew talks.  None of this ministry can be effective if the Holy Spirit doesn’t show up.  He is the silent listener to every conversation, and ever present help in time of trouble.

The Bible tells us there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother and the team has learned this, we must never forget that truth.  Next it is my turn, today I was uncertain what to share but when I stand up I begin to share from my heart a personal testimony regarding the passing of my wife, we would have been married 38 years the next day.

So I shared how we met and some of the trauma in her passing, interspersed with the faith lessons and encouragement that Jesus provided in the good and the bad times.  My wife’s story was one of going from, trauma to triumph.  There is always hope, readers, always hope.  I have come to realize there is a purpose to all our problems and God can deliver us from them all.  It isn’t how we start in life it is how we finish that determines our outcome. I find so often once we have passed through the ‘blight’ stages of life we are then able to help others through our experience.

The Bible puts it this way: 2 Corinthians 1:4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. Next Brent brings forth his message and draws the net so to speak, so much of ministry is watching and waiting on God.  Today the seeds are in different stages.  Some have just been sown into the furrowed hearts of someone’s soul.  Yet other seed is still germinating from a previous planting, perhaps we only fertilized or watered today in their life. They will go back to their range and think upon what has happened today.  Others will ask and receive prayer and God will send them back to their cell a changed person who will then be able to live out 2 Corinthians 1:4, again a win-win situation.

Where are you in your garden of life, has the seed been sown, has it germinated, are you in the fruit bearing stage of your garden?  Allow the Holy Spirit to water your garden of life, He will give the increase.

So we finish and then as is customary we have fellowship and books for the taking.  This time has been profitable for all involved, God is gardening in the church behind bars.  Now we must pack up and leave preparing for the second stage of our ministry today.   CONTINUED TOMORROW  Blessings Bill

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