Special Prayer Requests

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.

Blessings,

Rebekah

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Great is Thy Faithfulness

Dear Family & Friends,

I’m thankful to be writing you with my cup of coffee closeby and many encouragements to share with you. Before I provide some updates I would like to thank you for the prayers and words of encouragements since my last blog post. It was touching to see your care in response to some struggles I was going through. It is with a thankful heart I share God’s faithfulness is constant, active, and a comfort to my soul. I’m humbly reminded of the power of prayer and God’s graciousness to provide in my greatest weaknesses. I shared some of my difficulties in counseling cases and my own struggle to form a community of support in a local church since the majority of my time is in Rockville, not DeMotte (where the URC is located).

First, God is providing the grace, wisdom and peace needed to deal with heavy counseling cases related to abuse. The troubling dreams and fears I was experiencing are no longer haunting me. I’m thankful that God is giving me a calm assurance that I can carry the burdens to Him and lovingly walk alongside the ladies I counsel. The harsh realities and evils of this world are heart-wrenching, but none of it is out of reach of our sovereign Heavenly Father. I’ve seen grown in some of the ladies I counsel specifically with an abusive past and I’m grateful for God’s provision and guiding. It is in the valley when the stars shine brighter — hope shines brighter. I am determined to press on in this work — there is no crown without the cross (C.S.Lewis).

Second, I’m thankful that my bonds in the DeMotte URC are growing step by step. I’ve been blessed to connect with a few on a deeper level of friendship. These friends are passionate about the ministry in Rockville which is a blessing for me. I’ve also had opportunities to visit with some different folks in the church which has been nice. God recently sent a sweet retired couple to the DeMotte URC who I’ve connected with very well. They are new to the church and are passionate about seriving in ministry. In fact, Mr. Perkins provides Christian resources and CCEF material in a local coffee shop in DeMotte. The coffee shop is his second home. He spends time there being available for people, talking with folks, and equipping them with materials if they’re interested. I’m very encouraged by his witness and desire to plug into the community. Coffee shops are often the heart of the community and Mr. Perkins has successfully found his way into the lives of the folks here. We naturally bonded over our love of coffee shops, opportunities to serve, ministry recources CCEF and others provide. The Perkins are my new coffee shop buddies and he provides me with resources for Rockville which is a great encouragement. In Rockville, the couple I live with: Mark & Kathi are my biggest support and I’m also sharing in some more meaningful conversations with Susie (administrator), Chaplain Deakins and Johnson. We are becoming a team that is growing in positive ways and can laugh together, share struggles and hopes for Rockville. This is encouraging.

The end of October the Rockville facility hosted a special event to thank and tribute ministeries that provide services. It was a great time of fellowship as we shared breakfast together following a program featuring the Redeemed choir (consisting of inmates in Rockville). There is a lot of talent within the walls of Rockville – the choir gave a touching performance! I was blessed to be given a special tribute for my involvement in Rockville and humbled to know how much it does mean to staff and the inmates. I had tears while the choir sang because I know the stories and struggles behind many of the faces in the choir. It moved me to see how far some are coming and the joy singing gives.

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The ladies in the PLUS program crafted this blanket

I’ve been studying the book “Adorned- the Titus 2 Way” by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth with a group of 6 ladies in the facility and last week we finished it. It’s been a great encouragement to witness the growth of this group over these last 14 weeks. They have bonded well together and the fellowship we experience is very sweet. We have a great time together as we study. I hope to establish more groups like this since not all ladies who come to me need counseling, but need a support group of godly women. My “adorned group” will always hold a special spot in my heart though because these are the ladies who first let me into their lives, hear their stories and come alongside of them. Revive our Hearts is willing to provide me with more copies of Adorned so more ladies in the facility can be blessed by this study. My “adorned group” want to keep meeting together so we will begin a new study within the next couple of weeks.

My current class, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, is going very well! The bond we experience in this setting together is very strong, sweet and grace-filled. Last class focused on inward change and this one focuses on helping others work on inward change. We apply the four elements: Love, Know, Speak and Do to our own relationships. They each had to focus on one relationship they will be intentional with as grow through the material. I’m also applying these elements to my own life as I learn to serve alongside the chaplains. We are near the end of this class and next quarter I’m looking into teaching a class on addictions. Rev. Paul Ipema is a great support for me because he is teaching these counseling classes in the male prisons. He is very helpful in sharing his material with me and providing insights from what he has learned. Since we’ve both studied with CCEF (in the same on-site classes actually!) we both like to use the same material.

This past Saturday, members of the Divine Hope board and team: Rev. Paul Ipema, Rev. Nathan Brummel, Rev. Ken Anema, John Hamstra and myself had opportunity to meet with IDOC (Indiana Department of Corrections) government officials. We were able to discuss the ministry Divine Hope is going in the different prisons, think through necessary changes, how to approach challenges and what goals we should pursue. It was very insightful to hear from the IDOC officials since they are the ones in the prison system. We couldn’t do what we do in the prisons if they didn’t support the service of Divine Hope. It was inspiring to hear how Mike Pence was instrumental in giving Divine Hope growing opportunities in the prisons. The board hopes to build a relationship with the present governor of Indiana, Eric Holcomb. Please pray God would guide the relationships and allow them to grow as Divine Hope and the IDOC officials seek to work alongside together. In Rockville we’re seeking to further develop the presence Divine Hope has in that facility, but it is a step by step process as we have more discussion with Heather Robertson, Deputy Warden and Julie Stout, Warden of Rockville.

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Meeting with Divine Hope and IDOC officials and chaplains

Your prayers, encouragements and support is appreciated as always. I’m encouraged how God provides and is faithful in every part of my life. How great God’s faithfulness is! Thanksgiving is approaching here in the States and I’m looking forward to spending it with my Grandparents and relatives in Illinois. What a blessing to have them closer!

The most recent newsletter from Divine Hope is completed and will be coming out soon. I was asked to write an update on the work in Rockville so you’ll also see something from me in there. Any futher updates will be given in person when I’m home for Christmas! I will certainly look forward to being home over the holidays. I’m also looking forward to celebrating with the ladies in Rockville as the Christmas season approaches. Christmas is a special time to remind others of the hope we have because hope was given to us in human flesh. There is a lot of hope, joy and peace that needs to be spread in the Rockville facility and I’m excited to share it! 🙂

It is my hope you’re praying and preparing for ways to serve and bless others as we approach the Christmas season! I’ll see you at Christmas, Lord willing! 🙂

Blessings,

Rebekah

 

 

 

Joys and Challenges

Dear Family & Friends,
It feels great to sit down and write to you again. I enjoyed a couple weeks at home in September which was very encouraging. It was busy, but I enjoyed some time to relax with family and hang out with friends. I also was richly blessed to celebrate my church’s dedication of the new addition and share in their fellowship. What a special church family I have!
When I returned to Rockville I hit the ground running. It has been very busy after being away (which I expected), but it was almost a little overwhelming. I’m thankful that I have caught up on some of the matters and feel like I’m a little more stable. The ladies were very happy to have me back and the staff at the facility which is very encouraging!
We’ve been praying God would open doors for Divine Hope to offer classes in the facility and He is making a way! In the past the facility has not given Divine Hope a lot of opportunities. I’m the biggest presence Divine Hope has in Rockville presently. Last Thursday, Chapain Deakins and I had a meeting with the deputy warden to request for
Divine Hope to be able to teach more classes in the facility. She is in favour of it and is
impressed with their ministry! We hope sometime in the new year Divine Hope will have a consisent presence in the facility in addition to my counseling opportunities. This is very encouraging and exciting! I would love to have the professors in the facility and work alongside them more. We are very thankful for this opportunity! Please pray for us as we need much wisdom to use these opening doors for the advancement of God’s kingdom. Please also pray that the Rockville facility and Divine Hope would grow to have a good relationship.
Chaplain Deakins also reported on my counseling/ teaching work in the facility and Heather(the deputy warden) was impressed. She seems to approve and appreciate my involvement in the facility. We discussed the possibility for myself to continue in the ministry and she seems be supportive.
I’m beginning to work on forming more groups to do studies with and counsel in that type of setting instead of just one-on-one. It would me opportunity to reach more ladies who need the support of a group along with counsel. The goal is that once it is established, it could be a grow through the facility and become a consisent support for the ladies. It would be similiar to the Adorned study I’m doing with six ladies presently. That group of ladies are a joy to meet with every week! We have two chapters left in the Adorned book and they want to do another study which is encouraging.
We are in beginning stages of planning the next Divine Hope conference. I have proposed the topic “Voice of Hope for Abused Women.” The topic would have in a two-fold dynamic: first, provide hope and healing to women who have been abused and teach them to cultivate healthy relationships. Second, provide them with the tools and wisdom to be a voice of hope for other women enduring abuse. The reality is the abuse affects not only the ladies I counsel, but their daughters, sisters and nieces. They face their own pain and shame from the abuse, but also the guilt for not keeping their loved ones safe from the abuser. The DH board has approved this topic and we will host the conference the end of March 2019. Prayers are appreciated as this is a weighty topic, but very crucial because the women have all faced a degree of abuse in their lives.
I would like to send an invite for anyone interested to visit the Rockville facility to seriously consider attending the conference in March. You would be welcomed to be part of the conference and also take part in different activities in the facility. Any men would also be welcomed to visit Danville Correctional Facility with Pastor Anema and Brummel. Danville, IL is roughly 45 minutes away from Rockville. I have discussed this with Divine Hope and the chaplains at Rockville and they have given their approval. Make this a matter of prayer if this sparks your interest. Please contact me at rebekahbatterink@gmail.com if you are seriously considering or have questions.
Presently, I’m facing some difficult counseling cases related to abuse. It is heart-wrenching to hear stories of what women have endured. This has affected me more than I expected which had led me to struggle personally. Last week I was having troubling dreams at nights and felt very alone with the intensity of the weightiness. Since then I have been able to sit down with Pastor Anema to discuss these matters. It was encouraging and I appreciate his willingness to help carry the burdens and give it to the Lord. I would covet your prayers as I counsel these difficult cases. This is a big reason why I wanted Divine Hope to offer a conference on abuse. It would give us the opportunity to reach many more ladies than I could ever do in counseling. Often when I struggle with a matter I use my writing and music to help me wrestle through it. Last week I wrote a poem that reflects the stories I hear. I made copies of it and shared it with the ladies in the facility. They feel like I’m a voice for them and are encouraged by it.
I’m hearing stories that the ladies are sharing it with their bunkies which encourages me. It gives me opportunity to reach more ladies through my writing.
This is my simple drawing (below), but I have asked one of the ladies I counsel (who is a talented artist) to do make a drawing that reflects what I wrote. I’m excited to see how God using her skill and creativity to draw a materpiece. Maybe I will share once it all finished.
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It has been a difficult few weeks, but also exciting weeks as we God advancing the ministry in the Rockville facility. There is so much I’m learning as I face these difficult challenges in the facility. I enjoyed my time home very much, but I will confess that I felt the loneliness once I returned to Rockville. The reality is that I don’t have relationships and friendships here like I do in Wyoming. I do miss my famiy and especially being involved in the lives of my nieces and nephews, but I do have joy fulfilling this calling.  I also miss having a local church to be involved with since in Rockville I haven’t found a good church locally to plug into. I’m building friendships in the DeMotte URC, but I’m too far from DeMotte during the week to be involved. I would appreciate your prayers in this. While the ministry in Rockville is exciting and God is blessing it, there are struggles behind the scenes I wrestle. The couple I live with, Mark & Kathi are a huge a blessing though. They are Christians and our personalities fit so blend well together. God truly provided a home for me which is a real gift. I couldn’t do this if I didn’t have them as my homebase in Rockville. Their church is in Terre Haute (45 minutes away) so I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to do much with them, but I may try to attend their Bible studies.
Next Saturday (October 27th) there is a special appreciation ceremony in the Rockville facility for teachers and people who offer ministry services. I’m really looking forward to attending. The ladies in the facility have a choir and they’ve been practicing hard for it. It should be an encouraging time of fellowship! Next week I’ll be in the facility Wednesday-Saturday instead because of this event. Maybe there will be photos I can share with you.
Well, these are the matters that are my heart to share with you this time. Rockville has beautiful countryside and this time of season I see God’s amazing designs. This morning as I drove from DeMotte to Rockville I was in awe of the pretty of God’s masterpiece! It is inspiring and makes waking up at 4:30a.m worth it 🙂
I appreciate your support, prayers, and thoughts as always. I really do mean this. I’m blessed to have people back home cheering me on! You are an encouragement to me and playing a role in the ministry in Rockville through your efforts. Please be assured of this!
May the Lord bless you and use you where He has placed you!
Blessings,
Rebekah
Courthouse in the townsquare of Rockville. Across from it is the Old County Jail.
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It is the Covered Bridge Festival this week. There are over 36 covered bridges through the countryside of Rockville. Very pretty!
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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

 

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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