I have a prophet/evangelist/singer friend, Victoria, who ministers in a very dynamic way. She was in and out of juvinile hall as a teen, in her "BC" days. As a result, she loves to minister to those in prison. Victoria was scheduled to come to my Church in San Jose and speak on Sunday, Sept 27th. As long as she was going to be in the area, I contacted the county jail and asked them if they wanted her to come minister there. Typically they require two months lead time to schedule a special event, and I called them three weeks to the "date" before she would be there. Somehow miraculiously, God placed Victoria on their schedule for Tuesday, Sept 29. I was to go in with her and assist her, but she would be doing the preaching.
Excited, I called Victoria to tell her about it. She said that she had something else scheduled for Tuesday evening, so I would have to go without her. I told her, "NO Way!" If she could not go, I would just cancel. I was not going to go to that jail and preach to a group of medium security woman prisoners. The next morning I started to call the chaplin back to cancel, planning to explain that Victoria was already booked somewhere else. God stopped me dead in my tracks and said, "Don't cancel. Victoria will call you back later today and tell you she is coming." So I held off on the call.
Sure enough, Victoria called me back a few hours later.. she said, "Teresa, all morning the Lord kept talking to me about the jail. We are supposed to go.. go ahead and book us." Glory! so I never cancelled, but instead gave them the info they needed to do our security clearances. We were cleared on thursday, Sept 24, and all systems were go for us.
Well, on Friday (Sept 25), I got a call from Victoria that she was cancelling her trip out her because of hurricane Georges. So I called the chaplin, got his answering maching and left a message that Victoria had to cancel because of the hurricane. I figured that they would want to do their regular Tuesday night activity since she was not available, and I did not expect to go to the jail on Tuesday.
Sunday, as I was driving home from church, the Lord gave me a sermon.. it just flowed off my lips like a prophecy.. so I preached it to my dashboard the entire 40 minute drive home. When I got home I thanked God for the sermon .. it was a really good sermon on "hungry hearts".. and asked Him why He had given it to me. "You will need it at the jail Tuesday night," He replied. That was when I found out I would be going to the jail after all. Just to be "safe", I tried the sermon again later that evening .. I wanted to see if I could remember it, and ended up preaching the entire thing again, almost word for word the same, as I cleaned my kitchen.
The next day, Monday, the chaplin called me and told me that even though Victoria could not come, he expected me to be there.. after all, I had promised we'd come and he had set it up.. so I had better show up. I told him I would definately be there. Part of me panicked... how was I going to relate to a bunch of women prisoners?? .. I did not want to go bore them or make them angry. I told God that I did not want to go unless He came too. He promised me He'd be there. So that night I set aside to prepare for my "sermon" at jail the next day.. I planned to go over and over the sermon..work out any kinks, etc. God had other ideas. He told me I could run through it once, to assure myself that I still had the sermon He'd given me, then I was to read this book a friend had given me at chruch on Aimee Semple-McPherson.
I got home from work, I sat both of my dogs down and preached my sermon to them.. they listened attentively the whole 40 minutes... and were a better audiance that I expected the women prisoners to be. They even cocked their head at critical points, as if pondering what I was saying, and wagged their tails at a joke. What a great audience! And this third pass of the sermon came out pretty similar to the first two passes.. I could feel the Lord's anointing and life on it. I knew that this sermon was directly from His throne and was what He wanted to say to those women.
"Ok, Teresa," the Lord said, "Now don't think about it again and go read that book." So I did. It was an awesome book about her life, an autobiography. She was an incredible woman of God.. I got so caught up in her story and in prayer that I totally forgot to be nervous that I was going to preach at prison the next day.
Well, work went rapidly on Tuesday. All too soon it was time to leave work and drive to Santa Rita Jail.. about a 1.5 hour commute from where I work. I got there not sure what to expect.
Part of me expected them to throw me out on my ear..
Part of me expected the glory of God to fall with such power that eveyrone ran forward and recived Christ and was on the ground shaking and crying and laughing, etc.
Well, neither of those happened, but God did show up. The chaplin led them in some acapello songs... fun songs. He had me sit up front facing them.. so I spent a lot of the singing time making eye contact and smiling at various women in the group of 40.. guess what.. they smiled back at me. As the singing finished the Lord told me that He gave me favor with them before I had ever spoken a word.. I could feel myself making connection as we made eye contact during the songs and exchanged smiles.
I shared the message God gave me on hungry hearts (longing to be loved, valued, etc) and how God meets them.. I became a story teller and shared the story of the woman at the well and the woman caught on adultry and how God met their hungry hearts instead of condemning them.. then I shared Victoria's testamony and my own. They loved it.. paid close attention.
I found I was a much more dynamic and animated speaker than my usual style.. the grace/anointing of God on me, not my own skill. Then I told them that God is present right now to meet their hungry hearts and asked if anyone wanted prayer to come up.. about 35 of the 40 crowded up. I could only pray about 30 seconds for each one individually.. so I did. Most were reverent.. some started to cry.. two shook under the power of the Holy Spirit, one almost when down.. I had to put my hand behind her back to hold her up. God did not come as dynamicly as I expected Him to, but HE DID COME. And He met the women. When I finished praying for those up front, the other 5 came forward, one at a time for prayer too.
When the prayer was over, I passed out some tracts on "You can be born again." Everyone wanted one. They all came up to shake my hand and thank me for coming.. and many asked me to come back. The chaplin also told me I could come back anytime I wanted to..in fact, he asked me to return the next evening for an orientation for volunteers for Santa Rita Prison. He wants to get me working there on a regular basis.
At first, I was a bit disappointed that God did not give me prophetic words for the various ladies, but now I realize there would not have been time to minister that way.. I barely had time to lay hands on each one and pray a short blessing prayer and ask God to reveal Himself to each one and meet the cry of their hungry heart. At the time, I did not know the service had to end at a percise time and that folks could not stay after for ministry but all had to go back to their cells as a group. But the timing worked out perfectly.. God knew exactly what He was doing.
Isn't God good! I will go back... I like doing this ministry!! I think God likes doing it too. I can hardly wait to see what He does there next!
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