I was terrified!
I was brand new at this!
Me? In Jail? Again?
Maximum Security, the Men’s Block?
The nausea engulfed me.
I was with a team of Prison Outreach workers from our church, but I was the “newbie”, and they were all quite used to the protocol and the guards and the prisoners. Not that any of that assuaged my anguish.
The auditorium was empty when we arrived, with a few guards milling around, slapping their batons against the metal seating. Each slap sounded like a gunshot, and it added to the tension as we awaited the prisoners.
The bell rang, piercing the atmosphere like a knife.
In came the prisoners.
Some arrogant, some dishevelled, some dragging their feet… not one of them looked enthralled to be there. Their facial expressions were mostly unreadable, but hazarding a wild guess, this was a preferred time away from their cells, where they could be free of their cages.
Most of them looked up at us expressionlessly, and it was particularly difficult looking back at them, with eye contact, as I certainly didn’t know what to tell my face to show!
They sat in groups, herded by the guards, who were slashing away at the ice cold metal seats…
a dreary, pathetic array of murderers, con-artists, burglars, predators…. (we were in Maximum Security Block B, after all), who knew what their crimes were, but each one slumped down in their seats looking at the small worship band who was starting up their chords. A couple of guitars, only three men singing, and Pat, who led the Outreach, and me, standing at the back.
Worship started and I felt a decidedly unfamiliar “presence” near me. I dared to open my eyes.
No one! No one near me! Panic! No prisoner, no guard, only Pat, who was in the next row away from me, lost in worship.
My eyelids slammed together, willing them to stay that way, but NO… there was that “presence” again. Only stronger. I was beside myself with fear.
Nowhere to run Bridget… guards, prisoners, gates, keys, padlocks…. I was in my own “life-sentence”!
Then a voice…. An actual voice, penetrating my frantic thoughts….
“Tell them you too have felt dirty. Murdered 2 babies by abortions, alcoholic, been beaten by men, done shameful things that have been forgiven… go on… go down and tell them…”
The voice was firm, urgent, authoritative. “It had to be God!” I tried reasoning through my racing thoughts, saliva bursting into my mouth, my tear ducts feeling as though bursting was their only option.
I teetered towards Pat, interrupting her blissful worship.
“I… I think I have a word for these men.” I stammered.
“Oh great!” She nodded. “God will make a way if it’s Him!” Very ‘matter of fact’, was Pat.
How on earth was GOD going to “make a way”, I tried to reason in my racing thoughts.
Just then, as if orchestrated by God Himself, the next worship song started up.
“GOD WILL MAKE A WAY, WHERE THERE SEEMS TO BE NO WAY!” Burst forth from the 3 singers in the front.
I lunged forwards, down the concrete steps, towards the leader of the worship team, who was holding the mic.
He saw me coming, and held it out to me as I got there…
Too late Bridget. You’re holding the mic. Turn around and face these men and tell them exactly what this “voice” had instructed you to tell them. Blame the “voice”!
So I stood there, quaking in my sandals, and told them that I sensed that the Lord Himself wanted them all to know, that if they felt dirty, He didn’t want that to stop them coming to Him, because I too, had been “dirty”. I told them about aborting 2 precious babies, murdering His children. I told them about being an alcoholic, and about making such bad choices that I’d allowed myself to be beaten and abused by men. But that if the Lord could forgive me, He could and would and wanted to forgive them, if any of them would ask Him to be their personal Lord and Saviour, as I had.
I felt drained and SO relieved as I handed the mic back and galloped up the stairs to Pat.
As I got to her, she gently turned me around and we counted 40 courageous men who had gotten up out of their seats, and were standing around the worship team as the 3 men prayed for them and led them to Jesus, our one and only Lord.
This “encounter” with the Supernatural “appointment” with Holy Spirit taught me to be bold… to take advantage of every “opportunity” HE presented… if He stirs you, DO IT… allow the moment to be the launchpad for the Lord to do what HE wants to do… it’s NOT ABOUT YOU… (I can’t stress that enough)… it’s about what HE wants to do in the situation!!!
So I encourage you to take that step of obedience… strange though it may seem to you… it could well be the very urgency in the Spirit that will bring salvation to someone!
Originally posted on May 20, 2020 on Bridget’s blog here.