One thing I truly believe is that God didn’t leave me here in my singleness without having a purpose in mind for me. In fact, all believers have a God-given purpose for their lives. It’s just that most of us never ask God what that purpose is and because of our busy lives, we end up missing out in the joy found in the fulfillment of that purpose. All the changes I have had to face has brought me humbly to the question: “God, what do You want me to do with the rest of my life.” Oh, I’ve been working for Him all along, but that doesn’t mean I am fulfilling His unique purpose for me.
Less than 2 weeks ago, I met a remarkable woman who is definitely fulfilling God’s purpose in her life. Scottie Barnes ministers to men and women who are incarcerated by bringing them together for a day with their child or children. Her ministry is called Forgiven Ministry, Inc. and the day set aside for the child and their parent is called One Day With God. Scottie and I immediately bonded and she invited me to come up to a camp in Mountain City, TN, this past weekend. My sweet daddy went with me. What an amazing weekend it was for both of us! Scottie and her team are sold out for Christ and give sacrificially of themselves daily for this calling on their lives. Although we barely knew her and her husband, Jack, we felt so at home with them and the others whom we had never met. It feels like I’ve known her forever.
Daddy and I spent the day at the host church with the families who had brought the children to visit their dads. Tenita was in charge of that area and kept them entertained with crafts, speakers, a magic show, and the movie “Courageous.” We were also wowed by Dribble 4 Destiny, a ministry that uses basketball to reach others for Christ. Sherrie and Lisa were two more of those we immediately felt comfortable with. Sherrie can do things with a basketball you just wouldn’t believe!!!
I didn’t get to see the children with their fathers because I wasn’t cleared to go into the prison. Frankly, I’m not too sure about going into a prison as of yet!!! But Daddy and I heard the stories first-hand from Scottie and the team on Saturday night back at the lodge. For many of the children, this is the only day each year they get to spend with their parent. Some do visit on a regular basis, but this day is unlike any of those visits. Regular visits allow them to hug their parent upon entry and again upon exit, but the rest of the visit requires them to sit across from them without touching. One Day With God allows the kids to be kids and the parents to be parents. They can hug and hold and love all they want. You know, the things we take for granted!!!
Is prison ministry where God wants me? I don’t know. But I do know this past weekend helped me see some things differently. Most of those in prison are there because of some bad choices they made, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are still parents who love their kids and want to be parents to them. It doesn’t change the fact that God loves them and desires to have a relationship with them. It doesn’t change the fact that those children need to know they are loved and cared for, even if the conditions are different than ours.
This past weekend had a profound effect on both Daddy and myself. Sometimes we need to see that everyone’s life isn’t as easy as ours. As Daddy told me yesterday, “What we’ve been through is nothing compared to the things we heard this weekend.”
Edna and I will be heading to Raleigh on Saturday morning for another One Day With God. These inmates are in minimum security so they will be coming to the church to visit their children. It is my hope to be with them so I can see the thrust of this ministry first-hand without having to go inside the prison walls. If this is where God wants me to be, then He will remove any fear I may have about being inside the locked prison walls.
I will share more of about this in another post.
Lots of love, Sharon