He Came to Set the Captive Free

I recently had the honor of serving with a beautiful ministry, Disciples 4 Christ. It is a ministry that visits prisoners and shares the love, hope and power of the gospel. The unit I visited is a few hours away from where I live so my friend and I drove down there Friday night so we would be ready to serve Saturday morning. It was finally Saturday, and as we drove to the unit, I had so many questions. I was so nervous about the unknown, but I knew the experience would change my life forever in a good way.  I honestly had no idea what to expect. I truly didn’t know what I was getting into. Waiting for instructions and meeting the ladies for the first time was nerve wrecking. I had been warned and prepared for the worst, which was a little scary, but I trusted in the Lord that He would be in charge. And He was! We were allowed to go into their dorms. The ladies were given the choice to come out and speak with us or stay in their beds. I can honestly tell you that every single lady I met had such a warm smile. Once we started talking about God and His love and hope, they became just another sister going through a struggle. The heavy part is their struggle. It’s real and it is raw! It was so emotional, not just for them but for me.  I left with so many emotions. I was exposed to a whole new world, and even though part of me was heart broken, I was so amazed at God’s love and power. It was almost refreshing! There were no masks, time was precious. The most beautiful part was sharing God’s message. Because the message we shared has the power to transform, heal, save, give hope, encourage, empower and love even the most hopeless person. That’s powerful! That’s the REAL God I serve!

Disciples 4 Christ was founded by Susan Neyra. I had the pleasure of meeting Susan at my church (you can read about her testimony  here). Susan received three prison terms, the beautiful part of her story is that she truly found God. When she left prison she made a decision to go back and share the love of Christ with other prisoners. This ministry is truly amazing. The heart of this ministry is to help and rehabilitate instead of just punish. Statistics say 2 out of 3 offenders will reoffend and be back in prison within 3 years of their release. Many of them end up leaving worse than when they came in. What if there was a way to change these statistics? What kind of impact would that have on our society? What if the church really got involved and helped them find Jesus, their true purpose and hope, before they were released? I never thought about it like that. We have all heard of someone committing some heinous crime and thinking they deserve to be put in jail as a punishment. But the truth is, we all deserve God’s grace. We all deserve a chance at finding our true purpose, who we were created to be. We all deserve to feel forgiven and free. Jesus didn’t die on the cross for just you and I. He died for all of us, to forgive all our sins, even the “worse” ones. And reality is, most of them will end up back on the street so what’s the point of punishment and treating them like that’s all they’re ever going to be? The problem is, who’s going to want to go visit them and share hope and love? It has the be the church.

I can honestly tell you that it was one of the hardest experiences of my life. Mostly because all the stories I heard revealed to me that THAT could’ve been me. I could’ve done that. I am not that much different than them. By God’s grace and mercy, I am not there. It was so humbling and at the same time my heart truly connected and ached for them. Because the price they are paying is so heavy, only God can make that yoke light. Being there made me realize that the enemy is the one to blame. Yes we all have a choice. And there are people in there that are not ready for change, and that’s okay. But there are many that do want change. It hurt my heart to see how many were used as pawns in a bigger plan. Loneliness, pain, abuse, heartbreak, addictions, those are some of the reasons many commit crimes. But when you stop to think about it, everyone was once a good person, the enemy enters our lives during the most vulnerable time and like the sneaky devil he is, he makes us believe his lies and in the end they lead to destruction. But what hurts most about seeing these prisoners, is when they still believe the lies. When they are walking around with such a heavy burden believing they don’t deserve better. They can’t see the potential that God already gave them. They can’t see the light in the midst of the darkness…that hurt! I know, sounds crazy right? How can I hurt for criminals? I can’t fully explain it. All I know is that I left feeling like there was so much work to be done. The enemy is succeeding at making people feel hopeless and that’s not okay in my world. It doesn’t matter what you did, that’s not who God created you to be. And if you are willing to give God a chance, seek Him and follow Him, He can reveal your true purpose…and it will blow your mind away! Because His plans are greater than anything you could ever imagine!

I was also so blessed to meet some ladies that truly found God in prison, many through this ministry. Not just kind of made some prayers and chose to follow Him when it was convenient. They TRULY FOUND their Savior! He literally came in there and showed himself to them. Hallelujah!  He became their joy. Yes, their joy! They are full of joy even though they have a 30 year sentence. It is so powerful to see God’s power transforming something so dark into such beauty. They are more free than most of us that are out in the “free world.”

Disciples 4 Christ does such a beautiful job at sharing God’s love. Everything they do they do with excellence. They take the opportunity and cease the little time they have to love and impact these ladies and gentlemen.  I mean, that is truly what God has called us to do. To put others above ourselves and to live today as though tomorrow wasn’t promised. To take advantage of the ability to speak and share His word. To take advantage of the ability to walk and walk into that prison and share His love with a smile. To understand the privilege of being saved and want nothing more but for others to know about it. And as scary as it can be, He shows up and gives you the words to speak. He gives you the love to give. It is truly magnificent. His word says in Matthew 10:20, “For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Praise you Father! What an honor to be able to take His name into prisons and proclaim the good news.

That He already won the battle!

That the victory is His!

That every battle He fights for us is already won!

That He is our prize when we are persecuted for His name!

That it is so worth the fight against our flesh when we know we are not of this world because our home is in heaven!

That this life is just a glimpse, eternity with Jesus is what we need to keep our eyes on!

What an honor!

He set the captive freeThe most important thing is that we can access that freedom wherever we are. It doesn’t matter if you are incarcerated or free, He can visit you and come into your heart and reveal Himself wherever you are. All you have to do is ask Him into your heart and start to follow Him. When His Spirit comes into our heart, the truth is revealed. A truth that the enemy tries so hard to keep us from. He will try everything in his power to lie, cheat and steal who God created you to be. All you need to do is choose to accept Him into your heart and accept His gift of life. The hope we find when we see the truth is everything! It doesn’t matter how things look through our physical eyes, He is more than capable of changing our circumstance, He is so powerful! Your situation is not the end. Even if the enemy tries to make you feel like that’s it, there’s no hope. Jesus comes in and reveals a truth.  A truth that if you choose to believe, He will reveal to your spirit and you can walk in freedom and victory!

You can visit their website Disciples 4 Christ Outreach HERE. Go to their page and connect with them! Wether it is through prayer, volunteering or financial support, check them out!

I will be joining them again in a few weeks for Day with Moms. I am so excited to go but I am also preparing my spirit for such a powerful weekend. Please please please keep us in your prayers. There are constant obstacles that come up and opposition (now you know you doing something right when they keep coming! Ha!) but it doesn’t stop us. God is with us. So please pray for that event and if you have a prayer group, please bring D4C to the prayer list.

God bless you!

Linda

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