When I received the message from a prison Chaplain asking me to come and minister to the men who were incarcerated in his prison, I experienced a whole gamut of emotions. It sounded exciting, but also terrifying. I’m completely comfortable ministering in female jails and prisons, but going into a men’s prison was a totally different story.
And believe me, I’ve heard stories. My mentor shared his experience of going into men’s prisons only to find they were only interested in him long enough to find out if he had postage stamps. Another individual told me stories of angry and hateful men who only wanted to argue. Others told me stories of violent men who would try to harass me as a female, and they tried to convince me it was far too dangerous for a female to even consider.
My husband wasn’t exactly thrilled with the idea himself. But, knowing my heart for ministry, he reluctantly agreed to let me go.
But there was one more obstacle, I needed a ministry partner to go with me. Unfortunately most of my team has dissipated for various reasons during the months of COVID lockdowns. But, completely out of the blue, God sent Sara Kenzie to help me. I’ll be the first to admit (and I’m sure she agrees) that she was probably the least likely to help me. I knew before I asked her that this would be way beyond her comfort zone, and I anticipated a great big, “No!” But, amazingly she agreed to go with me!
Little did I know that God had already been dealing with her to step out of her comfort zone! He is an on time God! So, Sara and I went to the prison and took the training class. When we arrived at the ominous looming prison that serves as home to over one thousand, five hundred male inmates, we both took a deep breath. We mustered up our courage, and headed for the front gate.
We made our way through security where all our belongings, including our own bodies passed through X-Ray. Then we were patted down to make sure we hadn’t brought in anything. Finally we were inside all the gates.
The Chaplain led us to the visitation gallery because the number of men signed up for our church service wouldn’t fit in the chapel where services are normally held. We quickly set up the projector and speaker and made sure everything was working.
I had been battling a cold and sinus infection for over a week and was still having trouble speaking without having a major coughing attack. That was what I was worried about more than anything. I had perfect peace about ministering to these men but, my biggest fear was losing my voice! Sara also said she felt completely at ease, and had no fear. That’s God!
The buzzer sounded and in walked the Chaplain with a large group of male inmates. I was overwhelmed by the peace and calm I felt. When God calls us to a task, He equips and empowers us. I had no fear because I was certain that He had opened this door for me. The Holy Spirit was with me, and He was leading and directing the entire event. I only needed to be submissive to His plans.
I asked those men if they were ready for revival. They responded with a resounding, “Yes!” I knew at that moment, God was going to do the miraculous. We sang a couple of songs, and I began to speak. That’s when my greatest fear was realized. I lost my voice! I couldn’t speak a word without coughing. Cough drops were not working! I asked the Chaplain for some water and, finally, I was able to speak again.
That was my cue to end it. I had said enough. Now it was time to get out of the way and allow the Holy Spirit to do what He does best. I gave an invitation for salvation, and many of those men raised their hands. I led them in a prayer for salvation. Then, we went back into worship and I told them to come forward if they needed prayer for specific needs. One by one the men came forward for prayer as the worship music played.
One man was shaking uncontrollably because he suffered from Parkinson’s disease. He wanted me to pray for his healing. I prayed for him, and God baptized him in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. Soon after that, he completely stopped shaking. The Chaplain told me that he believed he was healed because he had never seen him stop shaking.
Two more men were baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues, and many others came forward for healing, and prayers for their families. God was moving in power! It was the most beautiful thing to see! The men thanked us repeatedly for coming, and we told them we would be back next month.
I think I floated out of the prison that day. Once again, God had revealed to me that He shows up in the most powerful ways when we simply move out of our comfort zones. He provides everything that is needed. He is still saving, healing and delivering! We only need to be obedient, and give Him our “Yes!”