Last year I began going into Angola State Penitentiary with my church’s prison ministry group. Looking back on that first visit, I remember the fear of not knowing what to expect. Now nine months later, I cannot imagine not being a part of this. We are allowed to go once a month for a 2 1/2 hour service. We see many of the same faces each time and they are no longer “the inmates”. They are my brothers. What a joy it is to walk into that chapel and greet them! And as I stand on the platform to share whatever word the Lord has put on my heart, I am filled with joy to see their faces shining with love for Jesus. Most of these men were violent criminals. Some of them will only leave Angola in their casket. But Angola is where they met Jesus and for them Angola was the mercy of God.
Each month I pray that I might impart some blessing to them only to find that I am the one that has been blessed. How I thank God that He has allowed me to be a part of this!
Last Sunday I was able to go to Angola State Penitentiary with my church’s prison ministry group. I didn’t find out until about 2 hours before it was time to leave that my name was on the approved gate pass list. When the phone call came informing me that I was approved, I was elated. Then followed 2 hours of frantic prayer, as I felt totally unprepared for what I was about to be a part of. Frequently repeated phrases were:
“Oh help me God!”
“Please help me not do anything stupid”
“I need You, need You, need You Lord.”
You get the idea.
For 2 ½ hours we worshiped with a small group of inmates. The rest of the brothers and sisters that came from my church had a message to share or a song to sing. I sat there on the bench wishing I had something to give.
When the service was over, the inmates made their way to each of us, thanking each for their message or music. And when they reached out to shake my hand, they said “thank you for coming”. It was enough that I was there.
“….I was in prison and you came to Me.” Matthew 25:36