We could say Jeremiah 29:11-14 sums up the weekend.
Our God does knew us in our mother’s womb. God knows when He will open the eyes and ears for us to see and understand our need for a Savior. His children will cry out to Him, call to Him, seek Him. Our Father knows He will hear us and He knows He will answer. Our God knows He will bring us back from desolation. He knows the moment He will lift us up out of the pit and put our feet on the firm foundation. Our God knows He will restore us back to Him.
The women came hungry and thirsty for His righteousness and they were filled. Our Lord is doing a mighty work within the hearts of these women.
We have been going in and plowing the ground for a few years. We have been planting seeds and praying for this facility, the women, their officers and staff. We are watching God change hearts, move mountains, and He is bringing in a harvest. He is producing the growth.
This weekend some women dealt with deep hurts, abuse, and sin that could have destroyed their lives. We saw how our God is the ONLY one who can heal those deep pains caused from others or their own poor choices. We witnessed how our Great and Mighty God uses every one of our stories to turn for good, heal, and bring HIM Glory for those who are surrender to Him.
We learned how our forgiving others sins against us will free us from any bondage the hate and bitterness could do to us. He does set His precious children free. He cleanses minds, hearts, and souls with His truth. He restores and rescues hearts.
During our final session a lady shared a song she had written about wanting to be a lighthouse and witness for her King. Her voice soared as she sang. We would have loved to record it so you all could share in it’s beauty. Maybe, one day it will be recorded and played on the radio as we drive to work.
As we were closing our time together we couldn’t help but look around the room and see His mighty warriors. These were not just women but they were His Saints and Warriors. They were just temporarily in a mighty training camp being prepared daily to serve their King. One woman jokingly referred to it as a weight loss camp at first as she lost 100 lbs. after being there. As we talked we realized how true this was for some. They were all losing weight, the weight of carrying around heavy burdens, unforgiveness and now allowing themselves to be yoked to Him where His burden is light.
We met an Esther (a quiet, timid women who usually will just blend into the background and not cause waves) who had stood up to the warden in defense of His chosen children. Another sister asked her to share with us what had recently happened. She quietly and humbly spoke of how she didn’t back down when a angry practicing Buddhist had attempted to have her stopped from worshipping God while she worked. She called upon her people (other believers to pray) as she went before the (non-believing) Warden to fight for her right to hear God’s messages, sermons, listen to praise and worship music while she worked. She wanted her freedom, their freedom, and an ability to Praise her God freely while they are in prison. Apparently this Buddhist has done this same thing in other halls (living quarters) and had them shut down. But this time she faced an Esther! The warden granted His believing saint her request. However, this is not all as now the ENTIRE facility has been given the WRITTEN APPROVAL from the Warden to freely listen to their music, watch sermons, and PRAISE THEIR GOD. What this Buddhist wanted to use as evil God turned around and made for good, even a greater good than this sister thought would happen. Not only is she able to praise God freely but it is now it is a written rule for all His children, in all the halls and inside all the facility who now have this freedom to worship God.
Another sister shared how she struggled with pride. She said how sometimes she would argue with God, get frustrated, and just act like a brat. She was crying out to him to help change her heart. He was changing her heart and she had such a heart for God. As she read through some of her favorite Psalms with us we couldn’t help but see how her life paralleled with David’s.
We also met a Naomi. She doesn’t think she is in there to be used for any special purpose but is just doing her time and going to get out to go home to her grand-babies. Her husband and family has passed away and now she just has her grandchildren. As our sessions went on we witnessed how much other women looked up to her, loved her, and respected her. She is a quiet strength, encouragement, and wise woman others listen to for truth, love, and encouragement in their life as they are inside. She guides many Ruth’s as they glean from her living testimony of faith.
Another sister was as Peter, denying Him if she was cornered early on in her walk. She found herself judging others too quickly. She struggled with not being willing to boldly stand for truth. He was changing her. She now was placed face to face with a women she always judged harshly and God was changing her heart. She had to love this woman. She was now beginning to speak boldly for His truth, not back down, and you could hear how she truly loved Jesus with her whole heart. She is being used to show Christ in a place where darkness surrounds the women, but she is a warrior, a rock, for His truth. Her life is depending upon the solid rock as the other women are watching her.
There was a Deborah, Joseph, and a doubting Thomas with us too. We could share many, many, many stories. This weekend our God brought in women from all walks of life, backgrounds, varying crimes, and personal struggles. We could see as the time went on how they all were gifted by God to serve God with their life story. They came to know Jesus’ Hope and Forgiveness not only for their life but as a living testimony to others around them. He was using their stories, their living witness, to change lives around them and to reach out to family and friends on the outside.
Each woman has a story, struggles, and sins. As you listen you see how our Lord Jesus has just begun the healing journey for some while others have been walking in freedom a while. The most powerful was to see HIS FORGIVENESS pour over them as they shared. We witnessed not only His forgiveness for them but their forgiveness for others who had deeply caused them some unimaginable pains.
As we left we were so blessed to even be a part of the healing work of the Holy Spirit as He soars within the hearts of this facility. As the days, months, and years go by sometimes we don’t think our God is working fast enough or maybe we doubt He is working at all…but HE IS!!
The praises to see our JESUS being worshipped freely, women standing and praying for one another, and forgiving one another. To see them love and worships the One True God is huge if you witnessed the desert they lived in a few years ago.
Our GOD is faithful!