It all started in November of 2018 when I spoke to incarcerated women in a Lafayette, Louisiana jail. Before going in, I was preparing myself for hardened looking criminals. I imagined rough-skinned females with cigars hanging out of their mouths. (I know they don’t allow cigars in the jail, but that is the image that came to mind). As it turned out there was only one that fit that description. The rest were young, beautiful women with only one flaw—rotted out teeth. Naïve, I asked the ministry leader who invited me, “Why are their teeth so bad?” She said, “They’re all Meth addicts and that’s what it does to the teeth.”
My heart broke, and something within me said, “I’ve got to help women like this.” That night I shared my testimony and eleven women gave their life to Christ, one of which was the hardened-looking one who said afterwards, “I had to go to jail to be set free.”
When I left the Lafayette jail, I could not get those women off my mind. I still pray for them regularly, and began looking for ways to help more like them.
In May of this year, we held a Level-Up Conference in San Antonio and afterwards a woman, Leonora Walker, who leads a prison ministry called “Freed Texas” said, “I think we are supposed to do something together.”
We must always pay attention to patterns and repeat messages.
I couldn’t get Leonora’s words off my mind. Leonora herself had been incarcerated and set free, both physically and spiritually, so the next time I came to San Antonio we met and asked God to show us His plan, if there was a plan for us to connect ministries.
After looking at various options, what we landed on was to do a Level-Up Women’s Conference inside a prison facility. Leonora had already been working with the Lockhart, Texas Women’s Correctional Facility so that seemed like a good place to start. “Level-Up Lockhart”—I like the way it sounds.
Not all of our Pearls Team members are ready to venture into this uncharted territory. I would not have been ready ten years ago, but God has provided a couple of other speakers including Splankna Therapist, Cathy Fitzpatrick (a former detention officer), and Onyx King, who spent twenty-one years in federal prison and found Jesus in solitary confinement. I met Onyx at a networking event, invited her to be on our A Time to Dream Radio Show, then God brought her to mind as the details of our Lockhart event were unfolding.
Pay attention to the patterns, as God will provide, and will lead you to where He wants you to serve.
Before going into a prison, you must have training, so the three of us, as well as team member, Rosemary Legrand, attended a four-hour training this past Saturday. It was a little intimidating as they warned us about what to wear and not wear, told us not to do any personal favors for prisoners, and also prepared us for the unbearable heat in some of the facilities. Most of the Texas Correctional Facilities are not air-conditioned. I did find out that Lockhart has air conditioning!
The next step is to submit a proposal to the Lockhart facility. That’s almost completed, then we’re praying for the favor of the Lockhart Chaplain, who I’ve heard already likes the idea.
As we take this leap of faith into an area that Pearls of Promise has never ventured, I keep thinking about our ministry’s mission to help women overcome dysfunction and to set the captives free. You don’t have to be behind bars to be locked up, but sometimes the pain of dysfunction causes us to make bad choices that are against the law. I believe that rehabilitation for all of us, whether inside the bars, or outside, goes faster when we invite Christ to do the clean-up within.
So now you know why I want to go to prison. Please pray for us, as we move forward with Level-Up Lockhart, set for May 16, 2020. Pray that if it is God’s will, everything will continue to fall in place. It is our hope that as we deliver truth, the chains will come off those who need to be freed, in more ways than one. I want to be like Jesus who said:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound… (Isaiah 61:1)