Greetings Family & Friends,
I was not planning on writing an update this month since I will be coming home over the Christmas holidays and giving a presentation; however, I have special prayer requests.
There have been many encouragements I’ve experienced despite of the some great challenges in the Rockville facility during this time. There have been some unsettling developments unfolding in the Christian dorm and the dorms on open population. Sadly, evil is advancing and some troubling matters ladies have been involved in. Please pray for Chaplain Deakins, caseworks, and officers who make the final decisions of what will happen to the women involved. It is unsettling because it involved illegal goods. A blessing from this is many ladies are asking me to pray with them about these matters. It is a great encouragement that the women see prayer should be our first response and is a powerful tool against evil. Please also pray God would give me the strength and wisdom to encourage the women to continue to be godly when unsettling matters unfold on the dorms.
I’m starting my new class on addictions this week. I’m using Ed Welch’s Crossroads material from CCEF. I’m very excited for this class, but I’m also feeling the challenge – it will be a harder step than the other classes I taught. The complexity of addictions can be hard to teach through, but I trust God will provide as He always does. Please pray He gives me the clarity, wisdom and ability to present the beauty of the gospel. I have a mixture of character and faith based ladies enrolled in my class which means they are not all Christians. Is addiction a medical disease? Is it a sin problem? Is it a problem of the brain? I plan to map out the different perspectives and give them the tools to come to their own conclusion as we use Scripture to explore.
The Christmas season is a difficult time for the women as they are reminded of their distance from their family and loved ones. We are seeking to encourage them in special ways and want them to support one another as they are not alone in their struggles. It is powerful time to show the hope of Jesus in practical ways to one another. We have been able to host special Christmas concerts (having bands come into the facilty) which are very uplifting events for the women who attend. Please pray the Lord would give the women an extra measure of peace, comfort, hope, and joy during this season. I always assure the ladies that even when I’m away from the facility over the holidays that they remain in my prayers. I’m looking forward to being surrounded by family, friends, and church family over Christmas holidays, but the ladies in Rockville will be on my heart also.
I’ve been able to connect more with a gentleman who works under the mental health unit and our interaction is encouraging. I don’t know if he is a Christian, but he appreciates what I’m doing in the prison. He asked, “are you the Biblical counselor?” I said I was indeed. He replied, “Oh, what you are doing is actually working.” Very encouraging! Please pray for our interaction. He is an older gentleman who has a kind and caring heart. I sense that he is doing his best to make a positive impact in the prison.
This next prayer request is something that is very close to my heart. During the course of my time at the Rockvill facility I’ve witnessed some ladies I counsel get transferred or be released. It always a little bittersweet. They remain on my heart, but overall, God has given me peace to face those moments. I’ve mentioned Heather in my updates before. She was one of my very first counselees and part of the Adorned study I started. I’ve watched her come out the darkness and walk in the light of the Lord. The growth in her faith, interest in the Scripture, and desire to be example for other women has been a great encouragement to me. We have formed a special connection. She expresses her Christian walk through very creative examples. For example, from the start she explained that she saw herself in the trunk of a car with Jesus driving because she had made such a mess of her life by trying to steer herself. Over the course of our time together she would describe her growth by moving from the trunk to the back seat, and then from the back seat to the passenger’s seat. We, the Adorned group, would tease Heather by using her car analogy. Sometimes the ladies felt like they were all in the trunk together when they went they encountered bumps in the roads. Heather also has her own sayings that are neat: “God showed up and showed out.” “There’s nothing or nobody that can shake my faith.” “I pray it up as I kneel it down.” I find myself using them at times. Why am I sharing this with you?
Heather received news a few weeks ago that she might be transferred from Rockville facility to Madison (two hours south) because she’s near the end her sentence. She moved to outpatient in the RWI program (addictions) which means the facility is getting ready to transfer. Madison is a level 1 facility which indicates that Heather is ready for the next step and will be preparing to be released in May 2019 D.V. We’ve been bracing ourselves for the news, but had not received official word yet. Today, we received the news that she is listed to be transferred. My heart sank, but I am also given joy because I trust God has her under His protection. She will be a world-changer! I’m excited for the journey God has in store. While we know the best is yet to come, the goodbye stage is still difficult. She could be transferred this week or next. It happens very suddenly and quickly. It is very bittersweet for both of us. I would really appreciate your prayers because Heather is the first one that is difficult for me to see leave. We hope that Heather can keep in contact with me through the facility and when she is released that we can still have contact (depends if she is on parole). We will meet Wednesday and maybe one more time this week unless she leaves before then. I’m helping Heather look for churches to attend once she is released. I want to do all I can to provide her with tools and connections so she is supported. I wish the facility offered more assistance in this area, but since they don’t, I do what I can when women are preparing to leave. It can be difficult for women to begin a fresh start after being released. Please pray God would give Heather the peace, direction, and faith to keep her eyes on Christ during these changes. I’m going to miss counseling/ mentoring Heather and having her in my Bible study group. She always kept me on my toes with all the questions she asked. We dug deep into the Scriptures together. I may not have children, but some of the ladies have become my spiritual daughters. God nurtures a Christ-like love as I come alongside these ladies and gently nurture them step by step. I think of the special bond Paul formed with Timothy. Paul felt very strongly for Timothy as he mentored, loved and partnered with him. I’ve always loved their example and desired to impact others just as Paul impacted Timothy. It is exciting to think of the influence I get to have in the prison. When I think how God can use our time together to help Heather embark on a new journey I’m humbled, filled with joy, and given peace even when saying goodbye. This is why I’m doing what I’m doing in the Rockville Correctional Facility!
This leads me to conclude with an encouragement for you. Never think you can’t make a difference where you are. Think of the people in your lives. Be willing to love, to give time, to give a listening ear, and to make the most of every moment. Be willing to be an instrument in the Redeemer’s hands. The influence you can have you will be used to changes lives in our world. Think of about it… none of the women who are imprisoned in the Rockville facility woke up deciding to commit a crime. It was a step-by-step downward spiral that led them to commit their crime(s). When you keep that in mind it makes me wonder how God could use us to reach those who might be traveling the road to prison, but we don’t step in. I was able to visit the soup kitchen my church serves at when I was home last time and many of the folks I spoke with there have similiar stories to what I hear in the prison. It is great to engage with them and share with them that I serve within the prison walls. Many of the women in the Rockville facility attended church at some point in their lives before making wrong decisions. This is why it is so important to care for one another – inside and outside the church. I am convinced that nobody is too bad to come in or too good to stay out (of church).
Your prayers mean so much during this season of the ministry.