The long-awaited (to me at least) for prison ministry was finally here this morning. It was a frantic rush, everyone rushing out the letters for the prisoners last night and this morning (we were supposed to leave at 9am!).
To be honest, in the morning I actually wasn’t feeling as excited as I thought I would. I prayed over this heart of mine. Even while setting up the things when we were there, I was still a little lost, not knowing what to do and not knowing how to feel. It was kinda like an uh-oh moment for me? Because I really didn’t want the ministry, the last ministry of the mission trip in fact, to end in a mundane tone and with me feeling like I had just been on a tour and nothing but a tour. I was really prayerfully hoping for a change of heart and attitude.
It’s actually my first time in a prison. When I saw the inmates just looking through the fences at us setting up (amps, mic, guitar) in front of the cottages, I felt that I had looked upon them with a wrong pair of eye. I was judging them; my heart was not right. I told myself, “I’m here to bring God’s love, how can I be judging them. Love, love!”. And with that, I began my ministry.
The YWAM (Youths With A Mission) team led us in the fast songs and we sang and danced. We took over the slower songs as a form of “presentation”. Did Second Chance and So You Would Come. I was there as a guitarist. So so SO thankful for Meryl… Holding chord sheet for someone playing the guitar is a small feat, but not many realised the need to do so.
Well, I was quite nervous at the start? I have never played in public, and plus the fact that BENNIE WAS THERE!!! I took over the guitar from him and before that, what I had in mind was “why don’t we get him to play?”
There was this group of women sitting out of the cottages, in a tent right in front of us. While singing/playing, I noticed that one of them was tearing. It moved me; I broke into worship… It was so enjoyable… It was no longer about playing the guitar, it is the heart of worship… that I saw in her, and received myself.
It was a short song presentation, but having heard the others, like Gary, shared about what they observed, I thank God for moving the inmates’ hearts.
After that was Gerald’s sharing. He contextualised the chapter on the lost coin, the lost sheep and the prodigal son.
After his sharing, they said we could go ahead and pray for the inmates. The girls stayed with the women in front of us and the guys went ahead to pray for the men. Hanna walked up to me and said she would go with me and help me to translate if needed. So we went ahead.
At the start, I just stood there and like how am I supposed to start mannn. I was quite lost and nervous and feeling rather awkward for not knowing how to start. I looked at Hanna and she looked back at me. And well, we started eventually.
So the first one was on healing for her knee and… I admit, I tend to be quite hesitant when it comes to praying for healing. I worry that I don’t even have a faith that’s like a mustard seed. I worry that if nothing happens (because I think I haven’t had healing coming through my prayers before?), what would they think of God? I worry that my praying vocabulary isn’t wide enough to pray for healing. But anyway, I went ahead to pray for her. Then the next one, it was healing again. Healing on her rib bone. I was quite hesitant to lay my hand on her rib because she lifted up her shirt and wanted me to lay hand on it. I was kinda hoping that she will put her shirt down and I guess I wouldn’t mind that? Okay la, I felt awkward :$ but anyway, I laid hand on her hand near her ribs and prayed for her. It was sort of a struggle for me as well, for the same reasons and my prayer vocabulary was really facing some challenge over there since it’s a consecutive request for healing. Sorry for the small faith, God!
The next one though, stirred within my heart the moment she said her first lines. She spoke in English while the previous 2 were translated for me by Hanna. She wanted me to pray for protection of her daughter. That was the first thing that stirred within me… Up on her mind even while she was there, first thing, it’s her daughter.
She moved on to ask to be prayed for for her case, that it will be over soon and she can join her family outside. She wanted to pray for the healing of the victims’ family members’ hearts and they would forgive her. And I asked her, what case it was about, I asked for greater details. She replied, “murder”.
I guess I was kinda taken aback but I did not dare to show it. I hope my facial expressions didn’t give me away! Man, I thought, I was there in front of a murderer?!
I prayed anyway. With my own idea of what happened, I thanked God for this mother’s heart for her daughter, I prayed for protection of her daughter, I thanked God for His grace and mercy, I prayed that His grace and mercy would allow her to be set free soon to join her family.
I opened my eyes and it was then that I realised my vision was blurred, by tears. I believe it was her love for her daughter that had moved me.
I continued hanging around and chatting with her and the lady beside her. I didn’t really know what to say much initially but by the grace of God, it got better eventually. I shared with her about why I was there and about myself, with all sincerity, hoping that God will speak to her through me. One thing she asked which has been ringing in my head every now and then – are you not afraid of us inmates? I shared with her why I wanted to experience this ministry… And I admit, I hid my fears from her.
After a while, I squatted down in front of her and politely asked, can you share your story with me? She invited me to take a seat beside her and she began telling me the details of what happened.
A teeny weeny bit of me was kinda like “Seriously?! Why is she even here for 5 years when she hasn’t even done anything!”. Yes, she said she was accused and she didn’t know anything. And I believed her.
There was a moment when I thought to myself, what if she’s lying? But I brushed it off and yes, I believe her. I asked to pray for her once more, praying for God’s guidance in her daughter’s life that she may rest her mind and God’s love amidst many other things. When we opened our eyes, we just sat there quietly. Without looking at each other. From the corner of my eye, I think I saw her wiping tears off her eyes.
After a while, she asked if I would be back again. I hope I do! If God wills, I will be back to visit! Perhaps in December! I told her that. I hope though, when I’m back (if that’s God’s will), it will not be in the prison we meet again. Somewhere else outside, please, Lord. That I see her reunited with her family…
Not long later, we had to go off. The parting was a little hard. She just kept saying, “thank you, 1!” (I introduced myself to the people here as 1). It’s really, my pleasure.
A stranger woman, a few minutes, an impacted heart. Or perhaps, 2. 2 impacted hearts. Thank You, Lord :)
4th May 2012, 1:56AM, blogging about 3rd May.