It is astounding to me, how God continues to move on my heart, however it is so hard to find words to describe the stories when I am home. I stare at the blank page wishing the words would prompt themselves. I think mostly it is because the emotion comes so much faster than the words. It only takes a few minutes as I sit in my chair, to remember and where my words leave off, my senses quickly remind me. The sound of the monkeys overhead as they were dropping treasures from their high perch in the three-sided metal cover. I can still see in vivid color the small laundry wash basins, women sitting together visiting, and small toddlers clinging to their mothers. Of course the smells were not familiar to me. I remember thinking how surreal it was. I can still feel the presence of God overwhelm me with awe. I knew before we traveled, from a simple FB posting that God used to prompt my heart that we were going to be visiting the prison. At the time, I didn’t know how or where or what the purpose would be but that God would direct us when we got there.
Only a few months have passed since I was sitting with Lensa, Kimberly and Ellen under the 3 sided lean-to in the women’s prison, hearing Lensa pour out her heart. She had every reason to be angry and bitter but out of her mouth, words like honey came forth. She melted me with the sweetness only the presence of God himself could give her in such a circumstance. She told me how she was thankful to be there (in prison) because she was being allowed to share the love of Jesus with the women. She said she was not afraid but when the time was right, the truth would come and she would be allowed to go. She was so concerned about who would take her place when she left but she had been praying fervently and sharing with the women who were there and hoped God would rise up one of them to lead. Keep in mind, while Lensa had been unjustly jailed (which one confirmed only a week after we left and she was miraculously released) the other women who were her cell mates had done very terrible crimes. She was not concerned about the unsanitary conditions, her safety, the lack of food and water, about her own family that she had left behind, but for the hearts of the women. She knew what peace and deliverance and wholeness could come if they would trust in Jesus.
At the prison we were able to take in food, water, and clothing for the infants, bibles and lessons for Lensa to teach to the women that God had sent with Ellen. All of the items we brought as God prepared us but without any idea of where they were to go until the moment arrived. The normal daily rations are 1/2 can water for drinking, washing and bathing, food that was unfit to eat brought from the men’s prison and the 40 women all stayed together with their babies in a one room mud box for cooking, using the bucket potty etc.
I think now of a how God is again preparing me for this next trip(January/February 2013). At the moment the ideas feel like dreams but I know now well enough that God will bring forth what he so desires. God has laid it on our heart and we are preparing for a vacation bible school in Arjo. Just a couple of days ago, I stopped in briefly to visit with a dear friend and spontaneously her father from out of town offered to help with one of our next projects. Each time, God confirms that he is with me, that he is guiding me. When I think of Lensa and her strength, I hope I will have courage like her even though my simple circumstances are in no comparison. I want to trust God in every circumstance, in every surrounding and in every moment of everyday.
Shortly after our return, Kimberly Heye posted this message for us. Lensa had been released!
“Thank you so much for what you did when you were here with us at the prison. I was able to tell Gonar and Shewaye that you had been praying for them and then Lensa gave them money in honor of your love for them. They are doing well and staying close to God. There is a new lady that converted while in prison before Lensa left and her name is Mariama and she needs our prayers as she is now leading the ladies there. Her family will disown her for her conversion and her hair was still covered, but I got to hug her and let her know we would be praying for her provision and strength– Thank you Ellen Johnson and Jennifer Bridges!!!!!You two are inspiring! “