December 21st marked our 51st wedding anniversary and we were in jail. Do I have your attention? We had never been in the LaGrange county jail before so this was a new experience and definitely a new occurrence on an anniversary.
Before you start picturing us in jailhouse uniforms and chains on our ankles, I should say we were with a team from our church to minister to those who had been incarcerated. Our pastor had arranged for several teams of five to visit on a Sunday afternoon.
I had not originally planned to go. Bill was going and another friend, Carolyn, said she was going and hoped I would come too. At the time, I was not aware that God was speaking to me through Carolyn’s encouragement. Later, because of what happened, I realized that God was in it all along. There are no mistakes with God. He knew exactly what He wanted to accomplish that day and He hand-picked our team to do it.
At the jail, our team spent time with two groups of women. The first group had about seven women, several of whom were clearly Christians. They brought Bibles and eagerly looked up any Scripture that was mentioned. Two ladies, however, sat off to the side. They were new with less than a week in jail.
After a meaningful message by Michelle on the topic of “choices,” the women were probably considering the events and decisions that had led them to this point in time. Choices in life matter. Choices we may have made years ago can build to right or wrong choices today.
As we divided up for personal conversation, another lady from our church, Laura, and I sat with the two new ladies. Following some small talk, Laura moved right into intentional ministry by sharing how she came to Christ. Taking the cue from her, I also shared my personal testimony. Then a thought nudged my heart to ask the ladies if they had ever accepted Christ as their personal Lord. The lady to my left said, yes, she had done so years ago. The other lady, Kim, quickly replied that she had never asked Jesus into her life. Nudged again, I asked, “Would you like to do that?” Without hesitation, she said yes, she would.
Almost taken off guard by her quick response, I asked, “Would you like to invite Jesus in now?” Again, her decisive answer confirmed she was unwavering. So, upon agreeing that she was a sinner in need of a Savior, she prayed the prayer of confession and invitation. I told her the angels in heaven were rejoicing over her decision to follow Christ. Before we left, I read several verses to her affirming what she could now know. I John 11-13 “And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
Truly, God used our whole team to bring hope to a group of ladies, to encourage them to make fresh choices in line with His will. One had led Christmas carols, two gave short messages followed by personal ministry, and Laura and I shared our testimonies. God had spoken to each of us to go and bring good news. We had made a choice too.