Friday, June 22, 2012

Poetry from Prison

For the past few months, I've been posting about my journey in prison working with a group of beautiful women, challenging them to choose life and to accept God's purpose for their lives.  Well today's post is from one of them; I think she wants you to know the raging war that goes on inside.  Can any of you relate?

I feel like a caged bird
without a key
I'm caught between
Pain and suffering
Numerous of unanswered questions
have caused so much grief
Dear God what will
ever become of me
I shut my eyes hopefully
to receive some peace
7 hours have passed
And still no sleep
Even though my eyes are shut
I'm very much awake
Thinking about all the trouble I've caused
with all my mistakes
Never meant to hurt your or
cause you any tears
Am I afraid to let go of
all the years of fear
I need your support and guidance
So I may stay strong
Everyday is a struggle
Please help me to move on
Someone tell me
How long this feeling will last
I'm letting go of this pen
Like I'm letting go of my past

This song is dedicated to all my sisters in prison!
Take Me to the King!

Friday, June 8, 2012

God Hear our Prayers in Prison!

Yesterday was not a very good day for prison ministry at all.  I was anxious, ticked off by a number of things and all of my insecurities seemed to surface all at once.  I pretty much asked God for a pass to get out of doing ministry; it never came.  I struggled with the lesson I was supposed to teach; and of all topics: prayer. 

I grew up on prayer. One of my very first Christian memories is on prayer.  My mother prayed incessantly; to the point where it was annoying (I've grown to depend on her prayers).  But like everyone else, I've struggled with prayer.  I believe part of my tension with prayer is due to a lack of understanding as to what prayer is and its power. 

My sisters in prison have been challenging me on the tension I've had with prayer.  For one thing, working with them has shown me my powerlessness to change their realities (past, present and future) and the need and dependency for God who is all powerful and works in supernatural ways to step in, otherwise they have no hope. He is their last chance at life.  And the other challenge they've posed is on my traditional views on prayer. For some reason I've always thought only the righteous prays, and "blatant" sinners must not have anything to do with prayer.  I can't tell you how surprised I was when one of the ladies said: "while I was on the streets (prostituting); I asked God to protect me and I knew He was the one that kept me from this one client who was wanted by the police".  On and On the stories went.  I would drive back from the prison in total disbelief trying desperately to make sense of what these women shared of their relationship with Jesus.

So as I process on the mysteries of prayer, here are some of my observations:

  • Prayer is the act of skooching closer to God.  In prayer we are saying we long to be close to God. I believe some of my sisters in prison understand this concept better than many of us.  They are desperate for the nearness of God.
  • Anyone can pray at any time they choose, with whatever posture they desire, out loud or in silence, and with no specific length of time or amount of words. 
  • In prayer God reveals Himself.  This is my favorite part of prayer.  God wants to show off to us.  He wants us to know that He is a mighty God.  And by answering specific prayers; those spoken out lout and in silence, those you did not think he cared about and those you did not even know to ask, we get to know him better.  And our confidence on who He is, develops.  I love seeing God answer prayers!
  • Persistence in prayer fosters our relationship with God.  Keep praying.  Keep calling out to Him.  Ask for all wants, needs and desires.  Ask for little things and for big things.  Shucks I've been praying for $50,000 (long story) but I've also been praying for God to heal me of my toxic anger that lives deep in my heart and my high blood pressure (yup both related). 
  • Develop a habit for praying. To get better at praying you must develop a habit for it.  Get in a routine, not legalistically but to encourage growth.
  • Pray without Ceasing, 1Thess 5:17: In the shower, as you walk, as you eat, as you play, as you study, in your home, at your job, before a big meeting, after a big meeting, over your children, over a family member living a destructive life, against the enemy, for victory, for protection...wherever you are, whatever you do pray without ceasing, it is our mightiest weapon in fighting the enemy. 
  • In prayer God receives glory.  In other words we make him look great by bending the knee (literally and figuratively) and surrendering our whole being to Him.
So last night, we skooched closer to God in prayer.  The presence of God was undoubtedly amongst us. These women literally cried out to God for healing, deliverance and transformation. And I believe He heard the prayers of His daughters. Let us continue to fight one prayer at a time.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Worship In Prison

My friends and followers read this next line very carefully.  You will never be paid for some of your best work and I have a theory on that: we were created for more than money! Shocking!!! Yes!!!!!
 Every week I get in my car put $20 of gas, drive 25 miles and pay $4 for parking to work with a group of women whom for whatever reason have found themselves in jail, mostly because of sins that have been done to them. And every week I pray for God's presence to be with them and transform them. I have never prayed this hard in my entire life! I don't know if my time with the women will be marked as my best work but last night I definitely felt the presence of God leading the group.

Last night I believe I touched a nerve in the group. I was teaching on the subject of finding purpose and the need for healing using the story of Joseph. I asked a very simple question based on my own journey of healing: "do you sometimes feel like a little girl inside who just can’t grow up?" Almost every head in the entire room was nodding yes and every face was running with tears. I could not believe it, these women were stuck at an adolescent age; they look like adults but are just fragile little girls inside. Abuse victims are usually stuck at the age of their abuse or the age they started using and cannot move on because healing never took place!

Well last night, the child inside one of these ladies spoke up and asked a very honest question: do you ever forget what's been done to you?  This was her way of saying “I want to heal and live a productive life but these memories, these things that have been done to me are holding me hostage and emotionally imprisoned, how do I break free?”

I wanted to say yes but that would be a lie and they would know it because they have tried everything to numb themselves in order to forget and nothing's worked. A part of me wished I had a magic wand to wipe away the memories of their past but that would be robbing them of their journey.  Instead I said NO with a promise attached. The promise was Jesus; If they gave Jesus permission to enter in those deep areas of pain, they can start living again.  If they would allow Jesus to step into these places where no one is allowed, the past would no longer dictate their every move, they would have a new master.  The little girl inside sat at the edge of her seat fully attentive to hear how Jesus was going to enter in and heal her soul. I told her to take Jesus by the hand and start taking steps toward healing.

I wish I could fully give you a picture of the dynamic of that room but I believe we had a beautiful worship experience where Father, Son, Holy Spirit and angels were all in attendance. We even had a song, one 20 year old started singing as she cried and sobbed and most of the group joined in: I just can't give up now I've come too far from where I started from Nobody told me the road would be easy and I don't believe he brought me this far to leave me. Yup, I was created for more than making money.  Please join me in singing my sisters through their journey of healing.