Prisoners Find "Freedom" in Christ!
Words can hardly describe the wonder and joy of what God did on the Fall Prison Journey! Approximately 60 volunteers shared the love of Christ to more than 250 inmates in 6 different institutions. The Spirit’s moving in these inmates was evident as we saw Him saving them, setting them free from things that bound them, and giving them a hunger for His Word. At the completion of the Prison Journey, testimony time with the volunteers lasted for about two hours as worker after worker shared what they saw God doing. Here for your encouragement and continued prayers are some testimonies of what God did on this most recent Prison Journey.
In a prison with over 90 ladies attending the Journey, one volunteer shared the following testimony:
“One minute [the female inmate] would be smiling at you, and the next minute it was as if a shadow passed over her face and her expression would completely change—from cheerful and sunshiny to the look of one being destroyed from the inside out. Tasha* had allowed a root of bitterness and a judgmental spirit to spring up within her heart, and she was being consumed by it.
Our hearts broke to see her bound by this bitterness. We began earnestly praying for the Lord to set her free! The Lord gave my teammate and me several different times to talk and pray with Tasha. On the second day of the Journey, the Lord showed her that she needed a Savior and she asked Jesus Christ into her heart to be Lord of her life! Praise the Lord!! Through receiving Christ’s forgiveness for her sins, she was then able to choose to forgive the one she was bitter toward, and I wish you could've seen the look of freedom and release on her face! The mighty and loving work of our Lord is marvelous to behold. We are continuing to pray for Tasha and that, instead of keeping other people and the things of this world before her eyes, she will be a keeper of Christ and His Word!” –Sophia, volunteer from Texas
Another volunteer from this same prison reported an exciting story of what she saw God do:
“[One] woman was humbled after going through the ‘Bitter Heart vs. the Forgiving Heart’ session. Earlier she shared that at the end of the Journey, she was going to ‘tell someone off’ and ‘get back at her.’ The Holy Spirit convicted the woman of her wrong heart attitude during one of our group sessions, and she not only confessed her sin of bitterness to our entire group, but she later went and asked forgiveness from the woman with whom she was originally bitter.
“Still yet, God worked another miracle in this woman’s heart! She had exhibited signs of being proud about having a knowledge of Scripture, but her behavior did not reveal Christ. One evening I prayed that God might humble her and reveal this sin to her. The next morning, after confessing her sin of bitterness, she said, ‘God revealed to me last night that I have a lot of head knowledge, but I’m not walking the walk.’ Wow! God answered my prayer overnight and, in His kindness, led her to repentance! What a good and faithful God!” –Kerry, volunteer from Arizona
In a men’s prison for inmates aged 50 and older, one worker gave the following report of God’s moving:
“The first few days were good, and progress was made with the inmates. On Thursday we began to notice some significant breakthroughs happening. That particular morning we taught about the strongholds of lust and secret moral failures; the session’s material seemed to be having a strong impact on the men. At lunch that day, we invited the inmates attending the Journey to join together in a time of fasting and prayer, specifically targeted at requesting deliverance from the bondage of sin in accordance with Isaiah 58:6. A significant percentage of the men participated. As we cried out together for specific individuals in the group, the Lord's presence was very real and near.
“In that prayer time, they began to see sin, and to see themselves as God sees them. But they also began to see how to reach out to Christ and let Him do His work to change them from within. That seemed to be a momentum that continued throughout the remainder of the Journey and which included tears of repentance and joy, testimonies, another prayer time, and many divine appointments. The final evening session was set aside for our graduation ceremony. The testimonies were plentiful! One inmate said that he signed up for the Journey to avoid mowing grass for the week, but that it was instead a powerful, life-changing experience beyond anything he expected. Several alumni from previous Journeys also reported that each Journey, including this one, caused so much growth and was so valuable to them. The final evening was an unexpected blessing, as security restrictions caused the men to be delayed in returning to their dorms after we said goodbye. That delay turned into a full hour of informal, impromptu group singing, and the love and joy in the room was palpable. It was something only God could do, as He blessed us and those we were serving above all that we could ask or think. All praise to our God!” –John, volunteer from Florida
A young lady volunteering in another one of the women’s prisons told about what she saw God doing on her team:
“There were two inmates on my Journey team who were particularly quiet; they were engaged in what we were doing, but keeping it all in. I also noticed that these two ladies did not have a salvation testimony or anything to share from their walk with the Lord. As the week went on, God gave us opportunity for conversations with these two ladies and, as God led, we were able to get to root issues and hurts that were keeping them in bondage and barred from receiving God's love. Before the week ended, both individuals confessed their sin and trusted in Jesus to save them. They were also able to forgive past offenders and reclaim ground once given over to the enemy. I praise the Lord for seeking these two precious ladies and bringing them to salvation and victory in Him! We serve a risen Savior, and He's in the world today!” –Susannah volunteer from Texas
Another encouraging report came from a young man volunteering in a men’s prison:
“What a beautiful experience when Jesus is lifted up and men do not tarnish the work of Christ by getting their mouths and hands more involved than their hearts and prayers. Jesus is truly to be praised! One young inmate in his early twenties had been quiet all week, and I didn't think he was very interested. However, on the next to last day, he randomly started sharing with me how God had been convicting him and that he had been thinking a lot all week but was trying to ignore the Holy Spirit. The night before, he had awakened crying and wanted to receive Christ but just didn't know how. As we talked, it was evident that the Father was drawing this man to Himself and showing him his need. Right then, he received the free gift of the life of Christ and is now delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the Kingdom of God's Son. This was the young man I didn't know how to talk to or what he was thinking, yet God was at work the entire time.” –Kevin, Volunteer from Florida
One testimony came from a father who was a volunteer in one of the prisons during the Journey. His report was as follows:
“Victor* has been incarcerated for 20 years, serving out a 40-year sentence. As we entered the prison on our first day, I noticed in particular how hardened and cold he seemed to be. He had no real interest in participating and pretty much kept to himself, even during our small group discussions. Following our discussion on the ‘Bitter Heart,’ I could see God’s Spirit stirring in him. For this first time, he openly shared during our small group session that he had been steeped in bitterness for as long as he could remember. He confessed that he has blamed others for his choices, and that God had opened his eyes to how destructive his bitterness toward others has been. By the fourth day of the Journey, this big, 370-pound man wept as he shared his desire to forgive completely and be free. Only the power of the Holy Spirit could have brought this man to his knees. I was blessed to see God move in this man’s life.” -Kory, Volunteer from Arizona
The facilitator for another one of the women’s prisons shared the following testimony from her prison:
“A lady at this Journey looked wonderfully changed since the last Journey that was held in March. When I first met this inmate in the spring, she was still adjusting to prison life and dealing with a long sentence. We had a one-on-one time, but the truth being shared didn’t seem to be taking root. At this fall Journey, the team members in her group were sharing how helpful and wise she was. During a mealtime conversation, I mentioned what a blessing it was to see her again. She had a noticeable joy in her life, and I asked what made the change? From her pocket she pulled a group of index cards with Scripture written on them: ‘Meditating on His Word,’ was her reply. The index cards were handed out at the Journey to encourage the participants to renew their minds by meditating on God’s Word.
“In the afternoon on our last day of the prison Journey, we had a time of testimonies. Many ladies shared wonderful testimonies of what God had done in their hearts. The workers and I marveled at those who were naturally quiet or shy eloquently related their testimonies. The Holy Spirit obviously encouraged others to follow His prompting. One lady who shared declared that she had not planned to speak, but she couldn’t contain her joy and the Spirit’s evident leading. When she was younger, she was persuaded to pray the prayer of salvation, but it hadn’t meant much to her. During the Journey, her heart was opened to the truth of Who God was, and that following Christ is about a relationship. On her bunk, she yielded to the leading of the Holy Spirit, repented (changed her mind), and gave her life to Christ.” – Pam, volunteer from Minnesota
At one of the prisons, some of the Journey sessions were held in the chapel building and were live-streamed to the death row inmates so they could watch if they wanted. In a women’s prison, two volunteers had the unexpected opportunity to go to the part of the prison where death row inmates were housed and share the love of Jesus with the women there. Praise the Lord for the amazing doors He opened in these prisons. The Word of God is not bound!
Many other testimonies of what God did on the Prison Journey could be shared. We praise the Lord for what we saw Him doing on this last Prison Journey! Midweek of the Journey, a male inmate came up to a group of volunteers and said that, throughout his life, he has experienced little doubts about God, but now after being on the Journey for several days, he knew God was real. Praise the Lord for these inmates experiencing the reality of Who God is as they sought Him on a Journey to the Heart. Please pray that these inmates would continue to seek the Lord and abide in His Word, and in so doing, that they would grow in their relationship with Him!
*Names of inmates changed to protect privacy