I am dusting off my clear prison bag and making sure I am equipped with kleenex, my notebook, affirmations. I am searching my closet for plain clothes suitable to serve and love on all these precious inmates that know me as Ya Ya. After a long absence I am thankful that we can be back in the prison doing what I know God wants me to do.
When Hugh passed away I knew that the love I had poured out on him had to go somewhere lest I explode or I give in to grief and let it rob me of the life God intends for me. Clear as could be I felt God calling me to the prisons and lucky for me Erica and LIbby had already paved the way. Please know that those two do the heavy lifting. I am just blessed to come alongside them and serve where God has called me to serve.
There is so much of the bible that is ambiguous and unclear and takes me a month of Sundays to half way understand. There are a few commands that are so clear and so precise that to miss them would be impossible. I heard and read in black and white that we are to feed those that are hungry, to give water to those who thirst and to visit those in prison. Seems to be no gray in between those lines.
I also remember one time hearing a leader share that the essence of service is to do something for someone that can do nothing for you in return. At first glance you would think that the prison is the perfect place to make that happen. What has happened for me time and time again is that I see men who for the first time in their lives have found a purpose behind those walls. They are finding a way to love God and to love each other. And in doing that I learn so many valuable lessons each and every time.
I have never seen so much talent in one place. Great orators, painters, singers, song writers, poets, leaders, ministers!!! There is a whole world of humans who when faced with incarceration have had to dig deep and get creative and find a way to live the best life they can with what they have.
It is very easy to cast judgement and shout loudly, that I would never end up there!! They deserve what they get!!! If they had just followed the rules, etc. You know I am not sure what many of them did or did not do to get there but I know that I feel God has clearly shown us that we are to love our brothers and sisters and let God do the rest.
I also have heard the stories of trauma and neglect and drug addiction and more. Thankfully many of them have learned to become men and fathers and brothers and sons behind the walls. To listen to a mama tell me that she is so proud of her son. She is watching him sing with the band and boldly give his testimony in a chapel filled with soul hungry inmates. Her son looks at her knowing that the first time in his life he feels as though he has something to offer and he does.
As I pack my bag tonight to get ready for a day of celebration, praise, worship, sharing and laughter and lots of tears, I know that Hugh and that full moon will be smiling big.
I wanted to share a note from an inmate that was moved to a different prison and wrote a note to one of my fellow amazing volunteers.
Inmate: I’m blessed to have had an opportunity to meet you, Erica and Ya Ya, and even Mr. Charlie. You guys don’t know how much you have impacted my life. Like Miss Erica says, —- you guys are “my people.” I hope to stay in contact with you for the rest of my life so you can witness the power a few words can do to a person who has been told by society he/she is worthless.
Our friend: In case you need a reminder of why we do what we do!!!!
I am quite excited to pull out that clear prison bag and walk through those clanging gates that loudly close when I enter. The sound makes me jump each time but I remember that I get to leave at the end of the day. I have to remember that going there I am visiting not an inmate but rather, a brother, a son, a father, a husband. He is lonely and his family is lonely for him. I pray that God will use me and help me to bring a tiny bit of hope and a big dose of love of the Father who has called me to serve.
Note: Tomorrow we will be blessed for the next two days to serve along side Kyleemae and the Global Leadership team who serves over 80 plus prisons!!! We will hear amazing first class speakers and motivators. We will have discussion and our hearts and minds will be expanded. Thanks so much to Erica, Libby, Charlie and Kyleemae who have allowed me to come alongside them and learn how to be a servant leader with a willing heart. I am so blessed.