Serving the local church and those around me is very important to me. Whenever there are opportunities to serve, I try to say yes as much as possible. In early 2018, it was brought to my attention that there was a need for women to serve in the prison ministry. I briefly considered the idea but felt underqualified to serve in that capacity and quickly dismissed the idea. But as the days passed, it stayed on my heart and mind.
As I began to pray about it, I felt God growing my heart for the ministry and I reached out to get more information. I met with one of the ministry team leaders to determine whether I was a good fit, but in addition to that, I needed approval and training from the prison. The process was slow and discouraging at times. I was ready and eager to serve but it was several months before I was able to complete my training with the prison and serve for the first time.
In the women’s prison team, we minister in three different areas on Sunday evenings: two classroom settings where we bring in music for worship and teach a short lesson, and a third where we are on the block going cell to cell praying with any of the women who want prayer. I was able to shadow a couple of times to become familiar with the process before being added to the rotation. Before the pandemic hit, I was serving one or two evenings a month.
Serving in this ministry has sometimes been challenging for me. I have often felt like I do not have enough Bible knowledge to teach a lesson or answer the questions that might come up, or I feared that I wouldn’t be able to connect with the women. But each time I stepped out in faith, I found that God was faithful to meet me and to equip me with his Spirit. I found that the time of studying and preparing for the lessons deepened my knowledge and understanding of God’s Word and drew me nearer to him.
It also provided a context to intentionally connect with women who were hurting, lost, and lonely and get to share the hope of the gospel with them. I didn’t always get to see the fruit, and sometimes I felt like I had little to offer, but it seemed that the women were impacted just by having someone make a choice to spend the evening with them and come in with a smile. I often found myself humbled by the reminder that even though some of these women’s actions have greater earthly consequences, we are equally sinful and in need of Christ. Being a part of this ministry has given me a better understanding of God’s heart for his people.
Sadly, we have been unable to go into the prison since the pandemic hit, and we are currently waiting on an update from the prison on a return date and any updates on how we are able to serve in the future. I am eager for the day that we are able to return to serving.