From a newsletter by Bethany Deaborn Hiser, working with the Tierra Nueva’s Women’s Jail Ministry in Burlington, WA. She speaks about a woman named Danielle, who returned to the jail to share her story with the women.
Danielle and I got to go into the jail together on Sunday – the first time back for her since when she was last incarcerated!!! It was such a privilege to go back and witness Danielle sharing her story with the women. Tears abounded around the room.
I led a short intro prior to Danielle sharing, asking the women what we go to for comfort. The women were quick to answer: drugs, food, relationships, etc. They also openly named the reasons: because it numbs, helps me avoid feelings/life/reality. I’m always amazed and impressed by the quick openness of the women in jail. Ready to recognize their struggles inside, even if they are at the same time acknowledging how hard that is to do outside of jail.
I invited a woman to read, Philippians 4:11-13, a passage written by Paul who was possibly incarcerated while writing the letter. We discussed his contentedness in all circumstances–and how unobtainable that seems sometimes. So what is his secret–being strengthened by Christ.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
It is through Jesus that we can be content and strengthened in all circumstances, even incarceration. In this statement is also a recognition of need and weakness – something that we aren’t always willing to do, to say I need help, I can’t do this.
I invited Danielle to share, knowing how she has so powerfully lived this verse. “The last time I was here, I was sitting in the red jumper in those chairs.” She paused and the reality of what she was saying slowly started sinking in for the women. “Four years ago, I was sitting in bible study, while being locked up. Now I’m returning as a chaplain and celebrated three years clean a few months ago. I couldn’t have done it without Jesus. He was my strength and continues to be each day.” Women started crying, amazed at this living example of hope and God. After Danielle had shared more, a couple women expressed how timely it was to hear her story of hope. They were just feeling like giving up, losing hope that change was possible. Now Danielle had demonstrated that through Jesus and coming to him to be strengthened, all things are possible. The women were really open to receiving prayer, expressing their desire for faith, hope, change, and to be strengthened by Jesus.
Please join us in praying for the dear ladies in jail. If you’d like to be on a weekly email list that includes their own prayer requests, let Bethany know via http://www.tierra-nueva.org/our-staff/.