Today’s post was written by Brook Hills member, Beth Roberson.
Many are God’s blessings to us. By His grace, He opens our eyes to His truth, our ears to His voice, and our hearts to His unconditional love. His gentle hand guides us on straight paths, which may seem crooked to us at times, but His peace assures us it is the correct way, the right decision. There may be a feeling of being uncomfortable, but excitement rises to the top and creates in us a sense of expectancy, taking something that would normally create a cringe and making it very appealing.
This is where my precious small group found ourselves in 2008. Meeting each Tuesday evening, we would visit, study the Word, and pray together. As God equipped us further, we decided that each of us needed to be able to teach the Word, so we began to hold each other accountable to teaching one or two lessons each semester during the year to the group. Using the Secret Church curriculums of The Old and New Testaments, we set off on this journey together. Oh, how we looked forward to these nights each week.
Excited, we continued to meet in this fashion. While taking prayer requests one evening, a dear friend shared that while watching the news, she became attentive to an interview of a Birmingham City Jail social worker. Apparently, they were seeking volunteers to come to the jail and help with rehabilitation efforts. Sensing God’s hand in this, our friend called and inquired about the opportunity. Before long, several of our group found ourselves filling out volunteer clearance applications for the Birmingham Police Department.
It took a matter of months for everyone to receive their clearance acceptance and be finger-printed. Interestingly, Tuesday evenings were the time slot open for us to go to the jail each week. I will never forget Lynn Ireland, Laura Dunham, Kristen Acton and myself riding downtown together. We had absolutely no idea what to expect! Lynn had planned to introduce us, Kristen had planned an icebreaker, Laura had prepared to teach, and I was going to lead music. “God help us!! Lead us!! Guide us!! Prepare hearts and minds for the truth of Your Word!” was our prayer as we made our way to the jail that evening. Sustaining our confidence, we knew that the rest of our group would be praying for us as we embarked on this new adventure.
Our clearance badges visibly seen, we checked in at the front desk and were asked to walk through a metal door to the holding area. With a loud bolt click and lock, the door opened and closed behind us with the sound of finality. We signed in and were taken back to the chapel area. Several women were there that first night. We left feeling the joy of God’s hand at work, not only in our lives, but in the hearts of the women we had just met, trusting that God’s Word does not return void.
We are now in our sixth year of ministry at the Birmingham City Jail. God has been faithful and continues to equip us with His Word in proclaiming His truth to women who are so desperate for the hope He gives. Most of these women are caught in drug and alcohol addiction. Family dysfunction, abuse, and prostitution are very real issues in the lives of most of them. We have seen God’s hand of grace in rehabilitation and reconciliation efforts over the years, from the jail, to the Lovelady Center, to the Foundry, to Olivia’s House. Granted, we do see relapse and apathy as well, in fact, most often. However, knowing that our God is faithful and has kept us in ministry there these years has proved to us that He will open doors that no man can close and will close doors that no man can open.
Just recently, we were told that we were not only going to have one hour with the women, but an additional hour for the men as well. Sensing God’s direction, we began to pray for the men God would bring from our Faith Family to minister to the men at the Birmingham City Jail. God immediately had prepared and raised up two gentlemen to begin, with a third soon to follow. They speak of how this is such a special time of worship for them.
If God has moved in your heart to work within the jail, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to talk with you more about how God is alive and working mightily at the Birmingham City Jail.
The ladies that God used to begin this ministry are scattered now into more ministry opportunities, moved to other locations, and/or still a part of this ministry. God granted us such a precious time of learning and sharpening each other with His Word. We still carry that special bond that goes beyond the realm of this life. Our heavenly home awaits and because of God’s grace in our lives, we will be able to give glory to Him for his amazing works. They are wonderful! We know that full well!
Come join us.