With great reservations, I realized God was calling me (dragging might be more descriptive!) into jail ministry. https://theincarceratedgospel.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/how-did-that-happen/
Up to this point, my “church service” had been very solidly within my comfort zone. I have a box, and I like my box. Getting out of my box is uncomfortable!
I had no experience that would prepare me for a ministry like this. Audrey (my friend I was joining in jail ministry) sang, told stories and would spontaneously act out dramatizations of Biblical characters. Hmmm. I bless people by NOT singing. I don’t really do “storytelling”. And acting is seriously outside my box. Audrey didn’t buy these excuses, and said I needed to do what God was calling ME to do, not try to copy what He called her to do. She’s helpful that way.
But what in the world was He calling me to do? I had never taught Bible study. I had never been to jail. I have no counseling background. I knew nothing about jail ministry. I didn’t even know the difference between jail and prison. [FYI – Jail is for people who have been arrested and charged with a crime, but have not yet been tried or sentenced… or they are serving out a short sentence.]
I had fears about the jail environment, fears of the unknown, and fears about my ability to relate to the women. I had big fears about not being able to answer the hard questions that inevitably would be asked. I had fears about giving up one whole evening a week (ironically, we later added a second night each week after Audrey and I both felt that one night simply wasn’t enough!). I had fears about the time it would take to prepare material for the Bible classes. Ok, if I’m going to be honest here, those last two really shouldn’t be called fears. The correct term would be selfishness.
But looking back I think my primary fear was being responsible for rightly handling God’s Word. I knew my Scripture memorization wasn’t nearly good enough, and my knowledge of God’s Word wasn’t solid enough. I had a tremendous fear of failing and disappointing God. I felt absolutely inadequate to be seen as a “representative” of Jesus Christ. I felt completely unqualified and unprepared. I knew James 3:1 taught that not many should teach, because they will be judged more strictly and that was petrifying. I also knew that to NOT go where God was calling me to go would be disobedience (aka SIN). And it wasn’t like He had not made it clear He wanted me in jail.
So by November 2010, I had been interviewed, approved, tested and trained. Turns out it’s really easy to get into jail if you don’t mind coming through the back doors and staying a while. It is a fairly lengthy process if you want to be able to come in AND leave when you’re done!
I completed the process and I had my official ID card as a jail volunteer, and my adventure was about to begin. I can promise you I had NO idea of the things that awaited me, much less the impact it would have on my spiritual walk.
Colossians 3:23-24 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
John 12:26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.