God in the Midst of Parole

During my years as a parole officer, the Lord opened many doors to share the Gospel with parolees, their family members, and others in the community. It was such an exciting part of my work. I journaled a few of the many testimonies to share with a ministry at my church. They still move me and encourage me, even now as I wait upon the Lord.

Perhaps one will encourage you…

‘Last year I received the case of Ms. G, a female with a long history of violence, prostitution, and drugs. I prayed but initially found no open door to share the Gospel – in fact, I saw the door quite closed. As a lesbian, she was living with her female partner who was Muslim. Within weeks of her release to Parole she proudly presented a marriage certificate from the Domestic Partnership Office of City Hall. Ms. G was so happy but my heart sank – she seemed so unreachable. I kept praying, often adding, “…Lord, I have no idea how you can reach her.”

Shortly thereafter her life began to unravel. She became difficult to find and unstable. In her last office report it was apparent that her life was undone….there was violence in her home, relapse into drugs, and total despair. I hardly recognized her, she looked like a wild woman. Before I could intervene with any real help, she absconded.

Ms. G was soon arrested on drug charges. With a warrant and violation charges, I planned to see her at Rikers Island the next day. That was the day I committed to the Lord to wake up early for devotions and prayer. At 4:30am I prayed for Ms. G and truly believed in my heart that the Lord was going to do something.

I always liked to have encouraging things to share when an opportunity arises…a booklet, tape, or small New Testament. But while on the train I realized that I had nothing special to share with Ms. G, should she be receptive. I sat back and began reading my Billy Graham magazine, ‘DECISION’. The first article explained salvation, how to be born again. The second article was about obedience to the Lord. The third article was a powerful testimony about a lesbian prostitute who became a Christian. The Holy Spirit washed over me with confidence that this was for Ms. G.   I was so excited I could hardly wait to get to Rikers Island!

I arrived at the facility and waited a long while…but so full of anticipation knowing with confidence that the Lord is working. Finally correction officers brought Ms. G to the Counsel Room, a tiny room where thick glass separates the inmate from the P.O. I took the violation papers and magazine out of my brief case. Ms. G still had that wild look and when she realized I had a warrant she lashed out with fury…

She was demanding and angry, blaming me for her failures and woes. My heart sank, I thought, ‘Lord, how could I have been so wrong?…No, I’m not wrong! I know what You spoke to my heart!’ After her tirade, I delivered some forceful pointed truth to Ms. G about her destructive behaviors and bad decisions. At the end I added, “…and don’t lie about no one helping you! Didn’t I do such – and – such…” I slowly began putting the magazine back in my bag but for some odd reason I blurted out, “…and on top of that, I brought you this magazine!”

Her face froze, as though I had said, “…a million dollars!” She became so deflated and meek, “You brought me a magazine?” Something happened inwardly, the Holy Spirit was moving. I pulled out the Decision Magazine and began to cautiously minister to her. ‘Well, I don’t know if you believe in God…’ She cut me off, “Yes! Yes I do! I was praying all day yesterday for God to get me out of jail!” I slipped the magazine under the plexiglass opening. ‘This is one of Billy Graham’s magazines…’ Ms. G blurted, “I know Billy Graham!”

Everything I shared seemed to touch a hunger in her. I was so amazed. I asked her if she believed in Jesus. “Yes I do! But I don’t know how to pray or what to do…I need SO MUCH HELP!” For the next hour she shared with me all her brokenness and despair. Ms. G said she was in the Rikers Island infirmary because she had a heart attack from cocaine abuse. I encouraged her that the Lord was able to heal her, that He loved her and could give her a new life…wash away the old. I spoke about being born again, surrendering our lives to Jesus Christ. Ms. G exclaimed, “That’s what I want! How can I do that? How can I be born again?”

Just then, at that exact moment…the door swung open to the counsel room. A cheerful female Correction Officer asked with joy, “Did I hear someone wants to make a decision of Jesus Christ? Praise God! I’m a Christian too!!” By this time, all my hair is standing on end.

The magazine and the Christian C.O. proved to be a great encouragement to Ms. G. Her parole was violated, she was sent upstate for a brief period, and mandated to a treatment program.

Upon her release she returned to my office but I hardly recognized her. She was dressed with modesty and had an inner calm. I had never seen such a transformation. Ms. G was so eager to tell me – to testify – all that the Lord was doing. During her 4 month incarceration, the Lord had godly C.O’s around her and she attended the prison church. She learned about worship, prayer, and scripture. The C.O. assigned to her (by the State and by God) brought her into Bible study and foundational truths.

“The first place she brought me,” Ms. G explained, “was to Leviticus. I didn’t know homosexuality was so horrible to God. I had so much to repent…” I was truly amazed with her expressed love for the Lord and her knowledge of scripture as a new believer. Ms. G was full of joy describing how she was baptized while at the prison.

I visited Ms. G at the residential program some days later. She had given her testimony to the groups there, speaking strongly about the power of sin to destroy and the power of Jesus to save. She wrote a song, ‘Jesus Gets You Out’, it was wonderful!’

That was the end of the journal entry. I know Ms. G was transferred off my caseload as the program was out of my assigned area….that was several years and hundreds of cases ago.  It was a season of open doors during the early years of my walk with the Lord.

When eligible for retirement, a personal matter arose in my home and the Lord made the decision clear. It was, however, a deep loss for me. People thought I was crazy when I said, “I really love my job!”  A season of brokenness followed with unexpected loss, betrayal, and disappointment.  Crushed By God came forth from this season.

Whatever the season, may we move forward, press on, keep the faith….

“Lord, thank you for all Your faithfulness throughout every season. Help us to be faithful, regardless of our assigned station or place that we may fulfill the call to,

“Do your best to present yourself  to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”  (II Tim 2:15)

Lord, I pray for all those who have heard the Gospel through our lives, no matter how small the seed.  Water every seed, fan every ember and encourage us in our daily walk.  Open our eyes Lord to every appointed encounter.  In Jesus name, Amen.”

 


DOES SATAN REALLY TORMENT BELIEVERS?

Does he.

Like a hail storm upon your head

Like a hail storm upon your head

That is his secondary mission – and he only has two!
There are times in our spiritual walk where the mixture of elements – mental, emotional and spiritual – intertwine with traumatic events and tribulations, tap into our own weaknesses and fears to create a spiritual stronghold. Like a perfect storm, none of the elements alone are capable of utter destruction however, infused with supernatural influence, our mind becomes a battle field for every exaggerated lie and distortion, for every magnified and imagined fear and failure. Unexplainable depths of confusion, fear, anxiety, and guilt spearhead the torment in spiritual battle.

When you’re there, you will know it.

In Matthew 8:23-26, the disciples were following Jesus into a boat. They had done nothing wrong. Yet, “Without warning, a furious storm came up” evoking great fear, convincing these seasoned fishermen of sure death. Jesus was sleeping as the storm raged around them.

A spiritual storm may last days, weeks – rising up without warning, to rob us of peace, crush us underweight, and draw us toward ungodly relief. A spiritual battle is a furious storm, whose instigator is full of hatred, fury and supernatural power – power second only to Almighty God.

Rational thinking and fleshly logic are powerless, like fighting a fire breathing dragon with a toothpick. Clichés and platitudes – even self-application of scripture – are merely oars futilely striking raging waves and wind. Others can advise but none can enter the battle, save the Holy Spirit, the ‘Wonderful Counselor’, through prayer. Our course of action remains unchanged: to actively and expectantly wait upon the Lord. He may seem to be sleeping during your utter distress and attack but He has, in fact, gauged and measured the spiritual battle for His purpose.

The principles and purposes of battles remain constant over the ages. In Judges chapter 3, following miraculous deliverance, God led the Israelites victoriously into the Promised Land – a foreshadow of us in Christ. However, God Himself left enemy kings in this promised land to test His people and train them for war. The Lord called His people to completely depend and rely upon Him, their battles are His. It is a call to stand, to remain obedient when under fire with the expectation of God’s deliverance. How much more, in these last days, are we to “…be strong in the Lord, and in His mighty power…take your stand against the devil’s schemes…not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world…” (Ephesians 6:10-18 recommended).

The devil can torment the minds of believers, launching a battle on emotional, mental and spiritual fronts churning together the elements into a raging perfect storm. Our ‘sleeping’ Lord is a waiting Lord, ever-present to take the helm as we, in mustering faith, cry out to Him. Our weakest prayer, offered in faith, can open a door of light to expose the powers of darkness and bring understanding.  In the midst of turmoil, the willfulness to praise and worship God releases His presence. As the Lord speaks through His Word our heart gains strength – His strength – and “divine power to demolish strongholds” (II Corinthians 10:3-5)

Deliverance may not be forthwith, neither are we immune to suffering and wounds in the battle as the Lord trains us to fight but in that fight, He will reveal spiritual truths not otherwise learned.

Tormenting the saints is secondary; Satan’s primary mission is to maintain man’s separation from God through pride, rebellion, disbelief and the deceitfulness of sin. If the “wages of sin is death”, those who live in unrepentant sin, separated from God, will reap fruits of guilt, confusion, and anxiety with a real expectation of judgment. Spiritual battle for the believer is not wasted, needless turmoil and suffering but rather an appointed interface with powers of darkness. We are promised victory before the battle and great reward therein – a deeper revelation of our Deliverer. With strengthened faith and resolve, and humbled dependence on the Lord, may we better refresh and minister to brethren, and beckon the lost to His salvation and deliverance.

“In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free.” (Psalm 118:5)