This morning is a guest blog by a beautiful friend of mine and member of our house church, Susan Dreyfus. The blog is her reflection on the Kairos Prison ministry team she served on last weekend at Julia Tutwiler Prison for women in Wetumpka, Al. Susan was part of a team, along with my wife Nancy, that spent four days in the prison sharing the Gospel and the grace of Christ with the inmates.
Isaiah 61:1- “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners”
I Just wanted to share a God filled moment. Earlier this year, I was chosen to be a Table Leader for this Kairos, which included giving a talk. When I was asked, I laughed and asked “Are you sure God said ME?” For weeks and weeks, I was stressing over it all. I put something in my talk that I didn’t think fit in. Pete told me that he thought they needed to hear it. So I left it. I was nervous giving the talk to my parents, as they didn’t know some of it. I was petrified when I had to give it at the team meeting and I can say that I didn’t handle the critique well AT ALL! I kept questioning if I was meant to be a leader. I am a follower, not a leader!! I know now, why God chose me.
One woman in particular said first thing to me Friday “I know God loves me, but does He like me?”. I told her yes and we talked further about it. Saturday morning, they're given pieces of dissolvable paper on which to write down people they need to forgive. She wrote names on top of names on top of names. There wasn't an empty place on the paper. I even offered her some of mine! At the forgivenesses ceremony, we’re in line and she says she has to talk to Clergy (specifically ours) that night. She wants to say something out loud that she's never said before and leave it at the altar that night. Of course I tried EVERY THING to arrange it. I even tried to arrange in line how she could get to her because she was cleansing hands. I realized it wouldn’t work out logistically. I tried to convince her to talk to Clergy who were saying blessings over everybody. She didn't feel comfortable. I explained that after the ceremony they will leave immediately in silence and I wasn’t sure it would workout. With a look of a child-like innocence she asked if she could just talk to me. I hesitated but I told her yes and she could trust I wouldn’t tell anybody. We were in a corner right behind Clergy sitting on the stage talking, which we weren’t supposed to do. So she is telling me all these things and I didn't know what to say to her or how to respond. I kept explaining how she was forgiven and what happened was forgiven and God loved her etc. I had nothing of "spiritual counsel" to say. I couldn’t find the words. As she finishes, we hug and she thanks me for listening.
The women left and I was walking around and couldn't quit crying and I couldn't breathe and I didn't know what to do. Other team members noticed something was wrong but I didn’t know what to say. I had taken on her burden. I couldn't focus on whatever was said before we left. I could only stand in the back and cry. I told my assistant table leader and Clergy member that we needed to talk. I had such a weight on my shoulders. I cried the whole way back to the church for our team meeting. At the cross ceremony, I was turning the crosses face down after they were prayed over and the first one I touched was hers! I did NOT go looking for it!! It made me cry because my heart hurt for her but also smile because I knew it was from God! At the hotel, myself, my assistant table leader and 2 Clergy members talked. I was able to debrief with them and my heart truly hurt for her. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around being the chosen one! They reminded me that we are all ministers! God sent me in there to be the set of ears this woman needed. I am not one to ask for prayers but I asked them to pray over me. I didn't sleep well that night because I kept thinking that I couldn’t believe God chose me for her!
First thing Sunday morning the woman thanked me for listening to her and not judging her. Well when we were in Chapel, at one point she put her hands in her ears and was rocking back and forth. She didn’t want to hear what was being mentioned. I mouthed to the team leader if I could go to her (it’s made real clear that we are NEVER to get up during Chapel). I went over just tell her to calm down and breathe. She eventually did.
At discussion time, our entire table family (even the street team members) shared stories of our experience which included our own sexual assault and abuse encounters. I even told them details from my story that nobody knows. When convicted felons realized we all had experienced similar things as them, they were in awe. They couldn’t believe we were just like them! Mostly they were in awe of God’s love through us. Two ladies had a such a hard time with me leaving. They sobbed and hugged me before we left and wouldn't let go of my shirt. I kept saying that they have each other! They have God! I also told them that I come back for reunions and I come to Tutwiler on the 3rd Sunday of every month.
Months ago when I began praying over this specific Kairos, I prayed to God that I wanted to help at least one woman. Let my story resonate with just one woman this weekend. While God made that happen, I also helped change 5 other women in inmates and 2 team members who’d never been in Tutwiler. The Clergy member said that I never once was boastful about my position. She said I made them feel like we were all one family. We are all members of God’s family!
We are all called to minister to others. I always thought I wasn't equipped or strong enough. I didn't have the piece of paper that I thought I needed. As it was so graciously put to me, God “slammed me” this weekend to truly show me that I don’t have to have it all together to share His love and His message. My heart has never been more full of love for God and these women. I truly pray that they will share God’s love throughout the walls of Tutwiler!
My family, taking my prayer over you from above quotes from my sister Susan, I pray God “slamms you” today to truly show you that you don’t have to have it all together to share His love and His message. I pray you can “wrap your mind around” being the chosen one for your story to resonate with just one person today. I pray you will be reminded today that we are all ministers! Please pray the same for me. God bless you my friends!
Gary Liederbach-Lead Follower
One Direction Community
Please share your reflections and prayers in the comment box below.
Partner and supprt ODC’s ministries as we remind those in our community of the love of God.