Amazing Testimonies!

Dear Family & Friends,

It’s with great joy I’m writing this update for you. I get to share the amazing ways God is working in Rockville! There are always challenges in ministry, but this update I would like to highlight the victories of God’s Kingdom in Rockville. I was going to wait and share in person since I’m coming home in a couple of weeks, but decided I should give an update.

In an earlier blog update I wrote about a young lady I started counseling who has been through unspeakable tragedy and loss. She has had a serious struggle with cutting herself over the past months. She attempted suicide a couple of months ago and was sent to “suicide watch”. After this transpired it was suggested she start counseling with me. I met with her and she was willing to start working together on the different struggles. We’ve been wrestling through the death of two of her young children, the abuse from her ex-boyfriend, and the guilt she’s been burdened with for making wrong choices. It’s been a hard journey to say the least, but last week God gave Cynthia a breakthrough. Wednesday evenings I stay at the facility until 6:00pm for choir practice, and last week Chaplain Deakins received a call that Cynthia was requesting to speak with me immediately. She was very upset. She came into the chapel offices in tears and I feared the worst. We sat down together and I asked her what’s going on. I had given her a book on guilt to read and take notes on so we could discuss it together. She had been reading the book alongside with Romans 5 and couldn’t read pass verse 8. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

In tears she testified, “I knew Jesus died on the cross, but it finally touched my heart in a new way. I broke into tears because I realized that it was my sin he paid for on the cross. Because he loved me he was nailed on that cross. I deserve to die, but Jesus paid the price. My guilt is also nailed to that cross and I can find freedom in Christ! I can’t describe how I feel, but a burden has been lifted. What do I do now?” 

I had shivers listening to her because I could see the Holy Spirit working within her. There are no words that can accurately express the joy I experienced. I couldn’t stop smiling! I wish you could see the smile I still have on my face. Cynthia couldn’t understand why she was in tears, but I assured her that the tears were a good thing and this was a milestone in her journey of faith. She greatly encouraged me. I told her if I could give her a hug I would. Not only was I thankful for the hope Cynthia found in Christ alone, but she reminded me of something very important. This is what I journaled that evening:

How easily I take foregranted the love Jesus displayed on the cross. How easily I forget the power of the cross. How easily I loose the wonder of what Jesus did. How easily I stand in the shadow of the cross, but forget to rejoice in the hope of the risen Saviour. How easily I loose my excitement to live for Christ and share the hope of the cross. I don’t ever want to take foregranted the love shown at the cross. I don’t ever want to forget the cost Jesus took so I would have freedom. I don’t ever want to loose the joy Jesus gives. Forgive me when I think sharing the gospel is boring. Forgive me when I wonder if what I’m doing really makes a difference. This work is not about me, but all about Jesus! Forgive me when fix my my eyes on earthly matters instead of having my eyes fixed of the Perfecter of my faith. Give me the faith to believe miracles do happen. Give me the excitment to share the Gospel – not because it’s my duty, but because it’s true! May I live like every day is my last!

The next day I spoke with Cynthia and the joy of Christ was shinning through her! Nobody could take that smile off her face or rob her of the freedom she found. I spoke with Cynthia today and she still has her struggles, but she has joy in her voice.

Thank you for your prayers for Cynthia! This is a true work of the Holy Spirit and I’m humbled to be an instrument in the Redeemer’s hands. Keep praying as we keep running the race set out for us, and as Cynthia will need to fight hard against the devil.

There is another lady who is a great encouragement to me. I’m so thankful because Heather is growing in leaps and bounds in her faith! Her understanding of the Scripture is impressive and her desire to dig deep is inspiring to me. She is committed to Jesus and nothing is going to shake her faith in Christ. When she’s released she is determined to run from the life of drugs, and run the race of faith she’s on. Heather’s questions and level of maturity made me turn to Heidelberg Catechism with her for the first time last week. I opened to Lord’s Day 1 and we began to read/ discuss it together. She was very excited to discover this new treasure. She’s part of a Bible study I started and Friday morning she expressed she has a load of questions to ask me from the catechism. I look forward to my meetings with Heather every Wednesday. She is someone I take more time with than most because we start studying together and it’s hard to stop!

Please also pray for Heather! May God continue to greatly bless our meetings together. I’m challenged by her questions and inspired by her dedication to Christ. When we first started meeting she was deeply confused and overwhelmed by “the darkness,” (partly due to the drugs) but now she says, “There’s nothing that nobody can tell me that will shake my faith! I can see because the light of Christ.”

I wish I could show you pictures of these ladies, but I can’t take any technology into the prison. I must request a camera to use for any photos. I hope to take some photos of the ladies to share. I had the great joy to witness 70 ladies be baptized a couple of weeks ago, and hope to request permission to share some of those photos with you as well.

God is richly blessing the ministry! I’ve witnessed many miracles in the last month especially and give all praise to my King! There’s much more I could share, but I hope I can do that personally with you.

Thank you for your prayers, your support and please don’t stop! God is working! Something ground-breaking in happening in Rockville and I’m blessed to be part of it. I look forward to seeing my family & friends and being with my church family soon!

Blessings,

Rebekah

 

Rebekah(35of45)

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Encouragements from the Conference!

Dear Family & Friends,

I wanted to share an update on the conference and express my thankfulness for your prayers and thoughts. We had over 100 ladies attend for the weekend! God moved mountains and touched hearts in the Rockville facility!

I  delivered the Friday night speech to the ladies and God empowered me to truly connect with women. I shared my story of adoption and how it instrumentally shaped my faith and understanding God is my heavenly Father. I spoke on the theme “Walking Alongside Others in the Midst of Loss.” I also shared the testimony of my Opa Batterink and how his passing was a deep loss for me, but God has used it to mature me. The ladies appreciate hearing personal losses and how God grows us. I can’t describe in words how amazing the experience was even though I was nervous. God worked powerfully. The ladies were in tears as I shared my story and started opening up about losses and pain they have bottled up for years.

Saturday morning Paula Brummel gave her speech to the women, Glenda Mathes spoke in the afternoon, and then we did a panel discussion with the three of us. The questions were hard at times, but God empowered us to connect and point the ladies to Christ. What a blessing it was to minister alongside of these women!

I have the advantage that I can personally connect with the ladies after the conference. There have already been more requests to meet for counseling, and join the classes/ Bible studies Divine Hope offers in the Rockville facility. Chaplain Deakins and Johnson were present for the entire conference and were very impressed. Chaplain Deakins fully supports giving Divine Hope opportunities to put on more conferences. This is very encouraging!

Pastor Anema concluded the conference with a chapel service Sunday morning. He spoke on “Joyful Suffering” from James 1. He gave a touching testimony and powerful message like I have never heard before. There were some tears shed then also.

It was a very busy weekend, but such an exciting time to connect with some many ladies and see the Spirit of God move their hearts. We, as speakers, were also very encouraged and challenged. This was an opportunity for us to grow. We shared our own losses that were emotionally hard, but God used those emotions to connect with the women.

Thank you very much for your prayers and encouragements! We are so thankful God used us and this conference to build the Kingdom of God in the Rockville facility.

I’m thankful it’s finished though – it was a busy time leading up to the conference. I’m recovering, and pressing on this week in Rockville. Lord willing, on Friday Renee Deelstra and Rachel Brink plan to attend the Divine Hope study. I will enjoy sharing in their fellowship over the weekend.

Blessings,

Rebekah

 

Sharing Hope in Rockville

Dear Family & Friends,

It is nice to be able to sit down and have opportunity to update you on the ministry in the Rockville women’s prison. It’s been a very busy time filled with encouragements and difficulties along the way, but thankful God is leading every step.

I would like to thank you for the prayers and notes of encouragements. I shared some difficult cases I’m working through last time and it means a lot that you are praying. I’m blessed to have prayer warriors and many thinking of the ministry in Rockville. I wish I had time to sit down and reply to each of you personally (I will do so when I’m able), but be assured your notes touch and encourage me to press on.

I’m excited to share with you Divine Hope is hosting a conference in Rockville next weekend, July 27-29th. We will focusing on the theme, “Finding Hope in the Midst of Loss & Grief.” Paula Brummel, Glenda Mathes, Pastor Anema, and myself will be speaking. There are over 100 women registered to attend and many tell me they are excited for it. On the applications to attend the conference the ladies had to share why they would like to attend. I have been reading through the applications and the stories of loss, grief and pain are heartbreaking. Please pray God will use this opportunity to share the gospel of hope to these ladies and lives will be touched and transformed. I will be opening the conference on Friday evening speaking on “Walking Alongside Others in the Midst of Loss.” Saturday morning Paula Brummel will be speaking, Glenda Mathes will speak in the afternoon, and the three of us will do a panel dicussion. Sunday morning Pastor Anema will close the conference with a worship service. I would appreciate prayers as I prepare and give my speech Friday evening. I have a lot of insights now into the kinds of losses the women endure which gives me the opportunity to speak more personally and really engage the ladies, but I’m also a tad nervous. I will have opportunity to share music and sing with Paula Brummel which I’m looking forward to. Prayers for strength and the ability to wisely communicate the gospel and give hope is appreciated.

I recently spent a week in Illinois with my family to help care for my Grandparents. I shared with some of the ladies the concerns and that I needed to support my family. When I returned I was very touched by how many of them asked about my Grandparents, family and how I was doing. They assured me of their prayers. They really do care, and even though they miss me while I’m away, they understand the importance of family. This is a real encouragment. God has confirmed that caring for my family and serving in the prison ministry is right where He wants me to be.

I have been exposed to the reality of how many women struggle with homosexuality in the prison. It is very discouraging at times, but also important that I see the needs. It is difficult to address, but the Lord is giving opportunities to engage with the ladies to discuss. Please pray God would give wisdom and love to know how to walk alongside the ladies in this concern. I work closely alongside Chaplain Jeff Deakins, and we are discussing how to meet the needs and present the gospel to the women. It is discouraging for him to see these problems arising, and we need prayers to serve alongside one another well and to have wisdom to face these matters.

I need to make wise decisions in how I minister in the prison and what I take on. Chaplain Deakins asked if I would be interested in helping with his service for ladies in the Intake dorm and leading a Bible study for them. This interests me since these are women who are new to the prison and not enrolled yet, but we need to discuss what changes need to be made before the next semester starts.

I’m fully engaged in the one-on-one counseling and my class “How People Change” is producing encouraging fruit. We are approaching the final weeks of classes for this semester. This morning I asked the ladies to share their testimony in class on how God is using this class to change them. I shared my testimony I wrote for Life Renewal in class today and the ladies really appreciated it. Chaplain Deakins decided to sit in on my class today and afterward expressed my testimony meant a lot. I had a few ladies approach me after class sharing they would like to give their testimony next week. I’m very encouraged and excited to start hearing their testimonies!

The Adorned study by Nancy Leigh DeMoss is well under way, and it is very encouraging to sit down weekly with the six ladies. It is insightful to hear their stories and how they desire to be godly women and share in fellowship that is honouring to God. We discuss what mentorship looks like and how women are to walk alongside one another from Titus 2. I meet with these ladies on Fridays and look forward to it each week.

Tomorrow evening I will be closing the week by leading the Divine Hope Bible study. We are starting the first lesson in our study books on Philippians. I’m excited for the study and we’ve had more ladies sign up to be in the Divine Hope study.

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Prayer Requests:

-For the Women’s conference taking place at the end of July.
-For a relative who suffered a stroke.
-For a mother who has bone cancer and other physical issues, praises God that she is also a believer.
-For a brother in need of counseling
-For the salvation of her children and husband.
-For an inmate seeking clemency.
-For opportunity to communicate with a daughter after many years.
-For God’s grace to be godly spouses.
-For those suffering from disease, depression, and addictions.
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I’m looking forward to this week coming to a close and receiving rest over the weekend. Next week will be busy and long one since the conference is over the weekend. Please pray God would give me the grace, strength and energy to minister well during this time. In August I hope to take some time to receive some rest and refocus before the next semester of classes and services begin. I’ll be back home for a visit in September.
Thank you for your prayers and support financially – both are so important and keeps this ministry alive!
Blessings,
Rebekah
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Community Within Prison Walls

Greetings Family & Friends,

It is a great joy to write from Rockville after being home earlier in June for a visit. It was refreshing to be spend time at home! I’m grateful for my church family, friends and family who took time to connect while I was visiting. It was really exciting to share in person about the prison ministry, but also to just spend time with loved ones.

I missed two weeks in Rockville due to a leg injury so after my visit I was ready to return. I never imagined being glad to be back in the prison setting. The ladies were very happy to have me back and many asked if I was feeling better after my injury. Chaplain Deakins told me the ladies were asking when I would return and said I was certainly missed. I was very encouraged to know the ladies missed me and were eager to start up classes and the one-on-one counseling sessions. The Lord has confirmed in many ways that this is where He wants me. There is no greater joy than to be right in the middle of the will of the Father. I’m thankful to have renewed enegry to fully engage in the ministry in Rockville. It has been very busy since returning – so much can happen over two weeks. Some of the ladies have recently been through some very difficult struggles and I’ve also started counseling a new young lady whose story is devasting. I’ve heard many hard stories, but her story has impacted me a lot. Let me share a little. . .

This young lady is close to my age and lived in a very abusive relationship with a man. They had two children together and he physically abused their young kids. They had serious drinking problems and did not always function as healthy parents for their kids. He was very manipulative to her which is why she stayed even though he was abusive. He threw their three year old daughter across the room and she died. This young lady found her daughter in the room later and once police were contacted they were both under investigation. They were both charged with neglect to their kids, and given a 30 year sentence. She may never step outside the walls of prison and if she does most of her years will have been spent in prison. This young lady has a serious cutting problem and started a relationship with a girl within the prison. A month ago she cut herself very badly in the shower and curled up for someone to find her. Since then all razors have been removed from the dorm. Last week I was introduced to this young lady and it was suggested she start meeting with me. Thankfully, she realizes she needs help and after meeting with her last week, she agreed to start counseling with me. Yesterday I sat down with her and she seems very relieved to have someone to speak with and who will walk with her step by step. She is a new Christian and beginning to read the Bible which is very encouraging, but this will be a long journey.

I would please ask you pray for this young lady. I share her story because she really needs prayer warriors and I also need much wisdom, grace, and love to walk with her.

This week I experienced my first time being locked in prison. Tuesday afternoon the hydro went off in the Rockville facility and the generators were not working. This means we couldn’t get out of prison since the security doors will not open without hydro. There was not much we could do. Chaplain Deakins and I had lots of time to sit down and talk together. It turned to be an encouraging time and I believe God is teaching us both a lot as we work in the ministry together.

My next project is the conference Divine Hope will be hosting July 27-29 in Rockville. I’m excited to share our theme will be Loss – there is so much material to cover and hope to give them as they have all experienced many different types of losses. We will have one session Friday night, three sessions Saturday, and Pastor Anema will lead a service to conclude the conference Sunday morning. I will give one of the speeches which I’m looking forward to since I’m becoming part of the community. Please pray for Pastor Anema, John Hamstra (volunteer professor for Divine Hope) and myself as we will be organizing this event and remember the women who will come to give speeches. We are very excited to reach a greater number of ladies through this conference since it will be open for any ladies from the entire prison to attend.

I’m thankful the Lord is blessing the ministry so richly, but I’m personally humbled because I’ve noticed my prayer life is stronger. The ladies have commented they love my prayers and look forward to prayer in class, Bible study or during counseling sessions. This is encouraging because I know it is all Christ working in my heart. The ministry has taught me to really pray and turn to God first, not last. I meet with one lady almost everyday in the chapel library just to spend 10 minutes in prayer together. I look forward to that time of prayer together. The Lord has given me a community of ladies within the walls of prison who I’ve come to care for deeply and I love walking alongside them.

Tomorrow evening I will attend the Divine Hope Bible study since I’ve missed a few weeks and it will be good to reconnect with the ladies. When I stay for Bible study it makes for a very full day of ministering, Bible study in the evening, and then I drive over 2 hours back to DeMotte. Prayers would be greatly appreciated as it becomes a long day.

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Please include the Rockville prayer requests in your church’s bulletin if you are able. This is such a blessing and encouragement to the ladies.
Prayer Requests:
 
– Continue to pray for a son who’s going down the wrong path, pray that God would work salvation in his life and protect him.
– Keep their children safe & healthy during the summer months – protection from the evils in society and that they would choose godly friends.
– for those suffering from depression and emotional difficulties.
– Marriage relationships that are going through difficult/stressful times.
– For a mother who would be allowed contact with her three children  and for her brother’s salvation.
– For a modification of a sentence be granted by the judge.
– For more work and the possibility of clemency.
– For an inmate soon to be released who is asking God for strength and perseverance to follow Him in the transition to life on the outside.
– For one who is seeking spiritual growth and holiness.  She praises God for the recent communication with her husband.
– Praising God for communication with a daughter that was adopted.

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I would personally appreciate prayers for a few matters:

-God’s wisdom, love and patience as I walk alongside the ladies. That I would be a godly example to the ladies – they are watching me closely!

-Discernment to know my limits in the ministry and see which needs God is calling me to address.

– Be Christ-like with officers and staff of the Rockville facility. They have received me well and I’m starting to build some relationships which is an opportunity to witness to them.

-There is a possibility to teach another course from Divine Hope material next semester, but this would mean I would be instrucing two classes. I need wisdom to know if I should pursue this opening as it would mean less time for one-on- one counseling. Pastor Anema may have opportunity lead a chapel service in Rockville in the near future which would great and I may not pursue another class then.

-Chaplain Deakins ~ I’m beginng to form a good relationship with Deakins which has led to many conversations about ministry and our faiths. He does not have a Reformed background, but is very open to discussing my perspective on certain matters which is encouraging. I’m starting to understand him better too. Since I work closely with him it is important to keep Christ first and work together in ministering to the ladies. He has shown an interest in the program Divine Hope offers and this may give Divine Hope more opportunities in Rockville. This would be an answer to prayer!

-Church in DeMotte ~ I spend my weekends in DeMotte and worship with the URC church. It is a blessing, but since I’m in Rockville during the week I struggle to form relationships. It is a hard as I don’t always have a lot of time to invest in relationships, but I would like to grow in the community there. I have started to form a few relationships which is an answer to pray. I will likely be doing a presentation in the DeMotte church on Rockville soon which will be a good way to connect.

I thank you for your faithful prayers and encouragements. While I was home I was richly encouraged by my church family in Wyoming and felt their love. You have assured me I’m in your prayers and I feel the prayers of many because I couldn’t do this alone.

If you are interested to see pictures of the Rockville please feel free to contact me and I can share more details so you have a better understanding of the prison facility. I shared this in my presentation to my church, but know many of you could not be in Wyoming.

I’m including two videos dedicated to the Prison Fellowship ministry founded by Chuck Colson. His story is inspiring and how God used his time in prison to begin prison ministry. Divine Hope has based much of their ministry by the example he gave. I would encourage you to take time to watch it if you are able to. If you can’t view it here, look up: Chuck Colson Rememeber and Charles Colson on Prisons in America.

May God be with you each – in your homes, communities, churches, schools, wherever He has placed you. Just as I strive to be faithful where I am, I pray you will strive to be faithful where He has placed you. We are each living within God’s Kingdom and must put His agenda first in our lives. May we do this together so His Kingdom will grow wherever we are. We are all needed within the community of Christ. Blessings!

In Christ’s service,

Rebekah

Rebekah(44of45)

Blessed Opportunities in Rockville

Dear Family & Friends,

I have many joys and encouragements to share with you, but also matters of prayers for you to remember. I’m grateful for the very encouraging responses and opportunties that God has given me in the Rockville faciltiy. I have to be careful how much I share due to privacy, but I will share stories that I’m able to.

The ministy is taking off better than any of us could imagine. I regularly see 4-5 ladies everyday for one-on-one counseling, and there are ladies requesting to meet with me. The reality is that I can only minister to so many ladies and I need to be careful not to stretch myself too thin. I desire to be effective in the ministry and learning to set healthy boundaries so I do not take on too much. It’s difficult though! I’m the only Biblical counselor in the entire facility and the word is spreading quickly of the service being offered. The only person I work closely with in the whole facility is Chaplain Jeff Deakins. His office is beside mine and we are able to help one another in the ministry, but often there are not quick answers. A lot of prayer is needed.

Many of the ladies I’ve been counseling struggle with depression, anxiety, abusive relationships, drug addictions, anger with God, loss of children… the list goes on. I have ladies who are showing great signs of change, and most importantly their Bible reading and prayer life is growing stronger. Many of these ladies have trust issues and do not have a safe person in the prison to share with so they bottle things up for a long time. I’m thankful when they tell me they are comfortable sharing and trust me.

One of the most difficult cases I’ve had is a lady who witnessed the death of her young son due to her own foolish decisions. She has been walking through a deep valley of anger, confusion, brokenness, guilt, anger towards God, and depression. The first time I met with her she was very cold, angry with God,  and not able to forgive herself. She seemed so lost. There was no spark of life or hope in her eyes. My heart went out to her. I prayed hard that God would bless our time together and would put on my heart the wisest manner to walk alongside her. Last week was the first time I witnessed a change in her. She had a spark of life in her eyes, and expresed her anger towards God is beginning to diminish.  She believes she can forgive herself because God has forgiven her and who is she to put herself above God? You have no idea how much joy and thanksgiving I had in my heart. It can be a very slow progress, but every week we take another step forward in Christ and I praise God for the encouragements along the way.

I have started a couple book studies with ladies also which is really neat. I’m going through Pilgrim’s Progress with one, and another lady I’m going through The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. I look forward to meeting with them weekly as our conversations are rich and deep.

This past Thursday I started teaching How People Change and I’m very excited for this class! My intention was to keep it small due to the intensity of it and amount of personal sharing required, but I had 30 ladies sign up. I was little concerned, but when I explained the intensity of the course and dedication required, the ladies expresed they were eager to start. The chapel assistant, Jane (she is also an inmate) and I have formed core groups and have been advised who could be potential leaders for each group. I will use the DVD for teaching and questions from the study guide to form the homework. I already introduced in the Personal Growth Project so they can begin praying about what specific change God wants them to work on. I will closely monitor the core groups and mentor the leaders as we go through the course so they are equipped to lead when necessary.

In addition to this, I’ve formed a groupd of five ladies who have come one-on-one to me with the desire to really change and have other ladies to help support them. My goal is to meet with these ladies weekly or bi-weekly so we can begin to shape a community of ladies who have the the same desires and goals and  let it spread into the facility. There’s a possibility to study “Adorned – Titus 2 Way” by Nancy Leigh Wolgemuth together because it very intensely shows women how to come alongside one another and what godly mentorship looks like.

Lastly, the Divine Hope Bible study on Friday is also very encouraging. Often by Friday night I’m tired and don’t always feel like attending, but every week I’m encouraged. I do look forward to seeing the ladies even when I’m feeling exhausted. I don’t always have to lead which is nice, but last night I had the lead on the topic of marriage. You have no idea how unequipped I felt to lead, but God supplies every need. I lean more on Him. Many of the ladies have been in abusive relationships, gone through divorces, or chose to marry a foolish man and still are committed to the marriage. Very difficult situations. Next week we will continue on the topic of marriage and trust we will dive more into these matters. Here are list of some of the prayer requests from last night:

  • Adjustments for a lady who moved from PLUS to CLIFF dorm – PLUS is the Christian dorm and CLIFF is not a Christian dorm
  • Prayers for children to be safe this summer, protected from evils and God would place good people in their lives
  • Adjustments for a lady starting in the building trades – hard work and a rough atmosphere
  • For a growing amount of peace in the prison, stronger faith and to love like Jesus loves
  • Marriage relationships that are going through difficult struggles – some of the ladies’ husbands are in another prison
  • Ex-husbands who are not Christians – God would work in their hearts
  • Mother’s Day – it is difficult to be away from their children, their own mothers/  loneliness is harder on special days like these
  • A lady’s daughter might visit after 12 years
  • Ex- husband who was given a 10 year sentence – that he would come closer to God
  • Given peace and wisdom to deal with struggles in Dorm 1 (PLUS/Christian dorm) – there is a lot of tension and difficulties hapenning right now especially

 

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I was very encouraged to have my Mom and Sharon Vogel come visit last Friday night for the Bible study. The ladies loved meeting my Mom especially and she was glad have a taste of my world. It is a testimony to these ladies when I have visitors come. It shows them what family is meant to look like. They are inspired that my family and friends would take time to come and visit all the way from Canada.

 

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I would like to thank you very much for all your prayers and encouragements. God is working in big ways! I’m very humbled and excited to see and be part of His Kingdom agenda. I think of how the apostle Paul writes so warmly to the different churches he ministered to… I have that same kind of love for the ladies in Rockville. They are partners because they are sharing the gospel and resources I give with the other ladies in Rockville. Together, we, weak and broken vessels, are striving to build His Kingdom in the facility.

A matter I would ask you to prayerful consider is giving to support this ministry in Rockville. I’ve been very grateful for support given, but there will be more funds needed to continue and see this ministry grow. The work is just beginning and I’m excited what God holds in store, but I ask you to consider supporting to make this ministry possible. If the Lord puts on your heart to give please contact my home church: Covenant Christian Church, Wyoming, Ontario, CA. Joe Anjema <joe.inconf@gmail.com>  Any who are interested June 3 I will be giving a presentation of the prison ministry in Wyoming, my home church. All are welcome to join and hear personally about the ministry.

May the Lord prepare your hearts for worship and have a blessed Sunday!

Blessings,
Rebekah

 

 

Blessings in Rockville

Greetings Friends & Family,

It’s hard to believe it’s been over a month since I’ve moved to Indiana, and started in the ministry at the Rockville Correctional Facility. There has been so much happening in this short time: hard and good blessings, and I’m grateful God is faithful through it all.

I’m becoming more adjusted to the Rockville facility as I’m interacting and counseling the ladies, and beginning to establish relationships with the staff and guards. When I first started it was still so intimidating, but now I see the prison as just another mission field that has it’s challenges and joys. Every time I walk into the facility and go through security I’m reminded where I am and humbled God has given me this opportunity.

I’m beginning to establish a routine and jumping into the rthymn of what goes on in the facility. My days fill up quickly and there is never a dull moment. Currently I have a nice balance of one-on-one counseling, being present in meetings and PLUS groups; attending the Divine Hope Bible study on Friday night.  I see someone for an one hour session and usually able to meet with 3-4 ladies a day since I have work around the facility’s schedule. In May I will begin teaching “How People Change” weekly for the PLUS (Purposeful Living Units Service) ladies. I have never taught this material, but I’m very excited to teach this course from CCEF. The core of PLUS is to help women change and be purposeful in their walk of faith, and this course will really help the ladies dig deep inside and encourage one another. Today Chaplain Deakins asked how much responsibility I would like to take on in the facility… Oh boy! It sounds like I will be able to keep busy! The other facilities where Divine Hope serves in are blessed to have many opportunities, and it’s neat to see God unfolding this in women’s prison too.

IMG_20180419_172338_564I’m officially part of the Rockville Correctional Facility team

While I’m not in the facility I’m still busy as I’m part of the Anema family, and I have projects outside the prison. The task I’m focusing on the most is a devotional for Anchor Ministries for the month of February 2019. When I first agreed to it I was under the impression the ladies in Rockville would be writing some of the reflections. After speaking with the editor, Kathy Daane, I was informed she would like me to write the entire devotional. June 15 is my deadline which is sooner than I first thought. This is a top priority! The theme I have decided to focus on for the devotional is Forgiveness. It is such a crucial part of the ladies lives in Rockville, but also for every Christian as we are all called to forgive, show mercy, and love even when it’s hard. This devotional is distributed widely across the nation, and in other countires which is really neat. I count it a humbling honour to have this opportunity. I’ve been doing study of some key words in the Hebrew and Greek for the devotional which is very stretching. Pastor Anema is very knowledgeable in Hebrew and Greek, and I always appreciate his insights.

Here some prayers requests from the Divine Hope Bible study:

-a sister who was on life support is functioning at a good level!
-prayers for children’s spiritual and physical health
-praying that guardianship of her kids goes to her mom
-prayers for Chaplain Hayes
-prayers that they will become virtuous women
-prayers for all the children that they be kept from negative social issues that are around them
-for family members in need of salvation
-for a mother battling cancer and in a weakened condition
-for those struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts
-for PLUS ladies as there have recently been more challenges in the group

 

I’m excited to share Erin Hiemstra and Jessica Bout plan to travel to Indiana this weekend. I’ll meet them for supper in Rockville tomorrow night (D.V) and they’ve been approved to come with me to the Friday night Bible study. It will be encouraging to have familiar faces from back home and share in their fellowship this weekend. Please pray God keeps them safe on the roads, and bless our weekend together and with the Anema family back in DeMotte. Anyone is welcome to visit the Rockville facility anytime!

God has stretched me not only in the prison ministry, but also personally as my family have been praying and providing care for my Grandpa who suffered a severe stroke. I was blessed to spend more time in Illinios with my family recently and help support my Grandma & Grandpa. It was difficult to see Grandpa after his stroke and face the reality of his condition, but I’m learning to trust God’s sovereignty in it, and know there is a greater purpose behind all of this. I’ve been so thankful to spend time with family, and know God is using this to deepen relationships.  We’re thankful Grandpa is with us! We would appreciate your continued prayers as it is a long journey, but we always have hope.

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The words from Isaiah 40:28-31 have especially encouraged me:

“Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.”

I am comforted to know God is always present to hear my prayers, and I cling to the promises He gives through faith in Jesus Christ. May you also be assured of His promises, and hold onto Him no matter what you are facing.

Please pray God will give me the strength, wisdom, and perseverance to faithfully fulfill my tasks in the prison, but also the projects – especially writing the devotional. Also that I would know how to wisely balance my time between ministry, relationships, and rest.

Blessings,
Rebekah

Blessings in Indiana

Dear Family & Friends,

It is a blessing to have some time to write you. I am very grateful for a smooth transition to Indiana and the blessings God has given since moving. I am very humbled for the opportunities God is unfolding since starting the work, but also joining the Christian community in DeMotte. I’ll highlight a few for you.

Divine Hope Board Meeting:

Shortly after I arrived I had opportunity to attend a Divine Hope board meeting and officially meet all the board members and professors. This was a blessing for all of us. This provided me with some insights into Divine Hope, and I also had opportunity to introduce myself and answer any questions they had for me. Pastor Anema assured me the men were very encouraged by the time we had together. The March newsletter will officially announce the work in Rockville and highlight some details for you. The team of Divine Hope and the Rockville facility are very excited for this opportunity!

Rockville Correctional Facility:

The women are very excited there is now opportunity to receive Biblical counseling in the prison. These women are hungry for the Word, desire to change, carry deep wounds, and are fighting very serious battles. Since it is not possible to reach all the needs of the women, I’m working with Chaplain Deakins to organize a schedule that will allow me to wisely use my time and reach the women God brings my way. To start, I’m focusing on one-on-one counseling and any of the women requesting this service need to agree and respect the Biblical foundation I have as a counselor. I have opportunity to be part of other chapels and activities in the prison so I can receive a better understanding of prison life too. I’m in Rockville Wednesdays-Fridays and they will be long days. I could easily be there longer, but we’re doing our best to set up a healthy boundaries. Wednesdays I drive 2 hours to Rockville which requires me to leave by 6:00 in the morning to be ready to start by 10:00. (There is a time change from DeMotte-Rockville. Rockville is on Ontario time and DeMotte is an hour behind). Fridays I will stay to join the Divine Hope Bible study starting at 7:00pm- 8:15pm and make the drive back to DeMotte. This week we are finishing the book “Excelling in Relationships” by David Meengs and after we will start a book by Rev. Nathan & Paula Brummel. Friday evening we will continue the study on depression. It has generated many, many questions and discussions. Please pray the Lord gives me the clarity, strength, love, and wisdom to help the women understand depression Biblically and provide tools that will point them to their faithful Saviour Jesus Christ as they struggle in this. Every week we ask the ladies for prayer requests which I’ve highlighted for you.

Prayer Requests:

  • A friend’s 3 year old daughter has cancer
  • A sister who is pregnant
  • Spiritual health and strength for friends and family members
  • A mom with spinal issues
  • Relationships with loved ones to be healed
  • Family members who are evacuating due to flooding
  • A daughter and her spiritual growth
  • A fellow inmate that is on a slippery slope
  • Thankful that a fire in the house didn’t hurt the kids
  • A young grandson of a friend that has cancer

Vision of Hope, Layaffete:

Last week I had the opportunity to visit Faith Biblical Counseling campus in Layaffete which was inspirational! The campus consists of a Christian school, church, counseling centre, community centre, and the Vision of Hope (women’s shelter). I was able to have a tour and speak with someone at Vision of Hope to understand the ministry for the women better. The intention of this visit was to determine if Vision of Hope would allow women from the Rockville facility to join their program once they are released. It is very difficult to help the women establish connections and Christian community once they are released. I amthankful to share that Vision of Hope will welcome women to apply to be part of their housing program. This would be a real answer to prayer! Once inmates are released from prison Divine Hope is not allowed to connect with them until their parole is finished. The opportunity to point the women to Vision of Hope and know they are in a safe and Christian housing program that will help establish them into society would be a huge blessing for the team of Divine Hope.

 

Rockville Devotional Opportunity:

Last week Nathan Brummel shared an unique opportunity that I will have the priviledge to be involved in. Haven Ministries in Riverside, California have a radio and publishing ministry called Anchor Devotional that has partnered with Divine Hope. They would like to feature devotions from the Rockville facility for February 2019. Divine Hope has had opportunities to have men from the prisons write reflections to form a devotional, and now they would like to have a devotional from the women’s prison. I will be in charge of organizing the devotional, teaching the women to write, and working with Anchor to piece it all together. I love writing, especially devotionals, so I look forward to this opportunity. It will be a lot of work, but I believe this will be an excellent opportunity for the women to use writing for personal growth and learn to clearly communicate the Biblical truths they are being taught by Divine Hope.

Rockville Conference:

We are in the early stages of planning a series of weekened conferences in Rockville facility this summer. Divine Hope has hosted conferences in the past, and one of the professors suggested to do it again. The women would be very excited for this opportunity and it would be a great joy for us to host an event for the Rockville facility. The professors have asked if I would bring theme suggestions to the board, and would be willing to speak alongside with a number of other women. The first conference we would hope to host would be in June.

The Lord has blessed my time richly and as you can see we’re working on many developments! Please pray God would give wisdom and direction for all the details and we would faithfully serve as He leads. We bring all these opportunities to the Lord.

DeMotte Community:

I am blessed to have my homebase with Pastor Anema and family, and worship with the small URC in DeMotte. I have been warmly welcomed into the church and many share in the excitement that I this opportunity to serve in the Rockville facility. I am grateful to the Anema family and can testify that God is strengthening and blessing the relationships. They are a wonderful family to join. I enjoy being apart of the kids lives, and have the wise and loving influence of Pastor Anema and Renee.

My family:

Last night we received news my Grandpa suffered from a stroke and there are serious concerns. I’m thankful I’m only 3 hours from my family in Illinois now. We’re waiting to receive more updates, but my Grandpa’s condition is not the strongest. Please uphold my immediate family back in Wyoming, but also the rest of my family in the States.

I personally ask you to pray God will give me the strength, wisdom and ability to serve faithfully in Rockville as the news of my Grandpa is on my heart. I trust the Lord will provide grace and His love will uphold me during all of this. I have a lot of preparation to do for Rockville and need God’s strength to help me focus.

I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.”

What is the “wave” in your life that is tossing you about? The “wave” will look different in each of our lives, and it is my prayer that whatever the “wave” is that you and I will look to the Rock of Ages. It is a blessing that we support one another in this journey, and share in the sweet fellowship found in Christ alone.

I am very grateful once again for the prayers, words of encouragement and support many of you have given me. I wish I could thank you each personally, but since that’s not possible I would like you to know I am very very humbled and grateful.

Blessings,

Rebekah

BWT: I don’t have any new pictures to share with you. I need special permission to take pictures in the Rockville facility, but I’ll share a few in case you missed them.

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Ariel-View-of-Rockville-Correctional-Facility

Front entranceRockville Correctional Facility

Just a few of the many cards and letters I received… Thank You!20180307_225904

Enjoying dollhouse with Liberty AnemaIMG_20180203_162836_830

 

 

 

 

Rockville Correctional Facility

Dear Friends,

I apologize I’ve not faithfully been writing. The Lord has taken me on an extraordindary journey! It is with praise and thanksgiving I can share with you the Lord has opened doors for me to serve as a Biblical counselor in the Rockville Correctional Facility of Indiana. I’ve received approval by U.S customs and now it will be busy with final preparations, funding and officially moving! I am very humbled and excited for this opportunity to serve in ministry alongside of Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary and offer Biblical counseling and teaching to the women in prison.

I would encouraged you to read the article by The Gospel Coalition to have a greater insight into the work of Divine Hope Reformed Bible Seminary.  https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/maximum-security-seminary/

Please uphold the prison ministry of Divine Hope in your prayers. I will share how the Lord led me to this prison ministry and give you more details of the counseling ministry I’ll be doing in Rockville. Stay tuned for updates!

Blessings,

Rebekah

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

Rockville Prison Sign20180202_092127 (1)Rockville Correctional FacilityAriel-View-of-Rockville-Correctional-Facility

 

 

The Best is Yet to Come

For You [Lord] know better than I
You know the way
I’ve let go the need to know why
I’ll take what answers You supply
You know better than I

Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face

“God works in mysterious ways”  – William Cowper

“Helen Keller said, “When one door closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.

Have you ever struggled to trust God’s providence in your life?

I have learned in a very personal way that God’s ways are higher than my ways as I reflect on the year the Lord has led me through. It is been a life-changing year and a whirlwind in many ways. Those who have been trekking with me know I was given the opportunity to experience life and ministry in Ecuador. You know the people there and ministry have touched my heart, but it was not God’s will for me to return to Ecuador in this season. He used the opportunity to force me to re-examine my life and desire for ministry. He used people in my life to loving speak truth into my life to help redirect my steps to follow God’s leading.

I’ve learned sometimes God allows us to wrestle, to struggle, and to wander through the wilderness in order to lead us to back to the right path. He doesn’t promise it will be easy, but we can trust it is for our good. He will never let us to walk alone and will faithfully provide for our needs… but in His time and in His way. That can be hard, right? It is when we surrender our lives completely to Him, search the Word to enlighten our hearts and pray “Thy will be done” that God begins to give peace and direction. It might not be in the timing we would like, but He will provide for His children.

I walked through a season of trying to understand the “whys” in my life, but in time God provided clarity to realize I don’t need to know the “whys.” There is not peace in having questions answered, but knowing the One who holds the answers. Jesus is the Prince of peace. I have placed my trust in who He is, not in the answers He can give me. This keeps my focus on Jesus and growing deeper in relationship with Him. It is in the waiting season God teaches a greater dependence on Him. I trust the direction He provides and walk forward in faith… pressing onward!

The Lord has been quietly orchestrating the opportunity to serve with Divine Hope Reformed Seminary in the Rockville women’s prison. Do I understand why God used a mixture of exciting and painful steps to lead me to this possibility? No, and I may never understand the “whys”, but I can trust the best is yet to come! The Lord knows better than I, and where He leads is where I desire to walk. No marriage, job, or pleasure in this life can replace the peace and joy God gives. His sovereignty is perfect. Is this where I imagined my life? Not necessarily, but I have to trust it is good because I’m seeking God’s direction, not my own agenda. I’m excited for where the Lord is leading and humbled He unfolds possibilities I would have never imagined. It’s by grace alone!

Are you struggling to understand God’s providence in your life? You’re not alone. It is my prayer the Lord uses this time of honest wrestling to shape and stretch your faith. Hold fast to the Word. It will light the way. Hold onto Jesus.

The Lord calls us to be faithful. Let’s focus on building and advancing His Kingdom. We know Who holds our future… we know Heaven awaits us… the best is yet to come!

Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face

Blessings,

Rebekah

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Sovereign Over Us

…You are working in our waiting
You’re sanctifying us
When beyond our understanding
You’re teaching us to trust

Your plans are still to prosper
You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
You’re faithful forever
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us

You are wisdom unimagined
Who could understand Your ways…

These words by Michael W. Smith have been instrumental in my life and to this day his song speaks immensely. God’s providence can be hard to understand, but it’s beautiful that we can trust His plan is best. Lately, my series of blogs have been in connection with Ecuador and how the Lord has put the ministry on my heart. The Lord used my time there to open my eyes, change my heart and test me in ways I could have never imagined. I’m thankful how God is using it. I know many of you still wonder when…if I’ll be returning, and I can only say that this is God’s hands. The ministry and the people in Ecuador are very much on my heart and desire to see where the Lord will lead. I will continue to study Spanish and personally grow with the prayer to be used in this ministry. I’m learning to trust God’s ways are higher than my own and when the season is right He will orchestrate every step. I’m resting in His providence. I’m also learning how Satan would like to use this season of waiting and preparing against me and become a time of restlessness. The Lord has openened doors for me to pursue the counseling field and I’m humbled by the “unexpected blessings”. There are so many opportunities and the Lord continues to “fan the fire”… to be used by Him in ministry and see how He orchestrates it all for a greater plan in store.

It is a journey and I’m thankful I’m not walking it alone. I’ve been given the gift of a loving, supportive and wise church family as well as those closer to me to walk step by step. I’ve come to see how others really care and those who want to grow make the effort to walk the extra mile with me. I’m blessed.

I’m thankful to also have such dear friends in Ecuador who I continue to grow in relationship with… despite how hard the distance is sometimes. You learn to be creative and work hard to grow in relationships when there’s so much distance. I’m so grateful to be part of their lives, and I know God is testing and strengthening this love. We know God is the foundation of our friendships and He keeps the bonds of love strong… by grace alone. It is a gift that I never take fore-granted. God works in mysterious ways and I never imagined how He would use the people in Ecuador to change my life.

I know and trust… “the best is yet to come!”

You’re faithful forever… Perfect in love…
You are sovereign over us.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time…” Ecclesiastes 3: 11a

I wonder… how could these truths and lessons be applied in your own life? We walk this journey together and I pray this will be a blessing for you. God uses different situations, people, challenges, desires…etc in our lives to shape us and stretch us to trust Him…even when it hurts. What a comfort we can rest in His perfect providence and we don’t walk this journey alone. May we be faithful in walking alongside one another and pray God will show us how to hand in hand together… with our eyes fixed on Jesus through every step and bump along the way.

Blessings,

Rebekah

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