Monday, December 25, 2006

Behind Bars

I once heard a man share, "It is impossible to outgive God."

This statement has rung true more times than I can count this year. And this Christmas especially.

A big "thank you" to each of you who were in prayer for our prison service today. Once again I regret there are no pictures to share, but sufficient to say it was another precious and unforgettable afternoon.

And to give you a bit of the story --

Entering a prison is always a sobering event -- guards, metal detectors, razor-wire. But this time, once we passed all the security checks, walked through the large courtyard, and set up our equipment in the cathedral-style chapel, it suddenly seemed our most overwhelming hurdle was still ahead --

"What?!? Stephen always starts this song with mandolin? How are we going to fill in for that?!"
"Um, I have no idea what Elizabeth sings for this harmony part!"
"Do you think you could play something on the fiddle to take the dobro's place?"

Yes, only we oldest 5 were able to enter the prison -- leaving lots of holes, not only in our physical numbers, but in each song. We never quite realize how much we rely on eachother until someone is missing. Especially 8 missing!

It was a mad scramble for a short while as we had a few minutes to practice. Then time was up and we gathered for prayer. Our feelings of inadequacy had to be given to the Lord. It was once again that we realized "without [Jesus] we can do nothing." (John 15:5)

And on that note the service began -- with around 80 men in attendance. From the first carol to the last 'Amen', they were almost on the edge of their seats. Yes, we missed a few notes here and there -- but the Lord's grace was so evident and the men seemed genuinely touched. At the end of Dad's gospel message, around 15 men responded to the gospel. Their warm handshakes and 'thanks' told us what we shared was taken to heart.

It was exciting to visit with the chaplain as we packed equipment -- to hear how he is active in getting new believers discipled in the Word. We're looking forward to hearing continued reports & keeping these men in prayer.

As we loaded up the bus and drove away, we were in awe at the Lord's working -- and the great encouragement the service had been in our own lives. Truly, "you can't out-give God!"

"Now to Him Who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church through Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever, Amen." Eph 3:20-21


Andrea said...

I'm so glad to hear of God's work there on Christmas! I've been thinking and praying for you all, and it's wonderful to hear once again of God's sufficient grace.

On Sunday while we were eating a potluck lunch, I noticed my dad, along with three other men involved in earnest discussion, and then taking several minutes to pray. I found out later that you were their subject! Praise the Lord for answered prayer!

Rachel said...

Andrea -- Thank you so much. We've always known that it is the prayers behind each opportunity that multiplies the effectiveness. Praise the Lord for the body of Christ -- how greatly we need eachother!

Megan said...

It is such a blessing to minister in prison -- a little scary, too! When Alive! (a communuity choir that I was in for a year in high school) was there, no one would let me go anywhere alone (which, I must admit, I was grateful for :). I am so glad that your family had the opportunity to bless that prison (you guys tend to do that wherever you go). Too bad that not everyone can come along. I can hardly imagine what it would be like seeing only you oldest five up there ! :) But eventually everyone will be able to come along.

rehm family said...

May God be praised for His hand in your sharing at the prison! It is a privilege to get to uphold y'all before our Savior's Almighty throne! Thank you for the feed-back.

Happymama said...

Oh, I've been wondering how your trip to prison went. What a blessing to hear how God used you for those men. What a blessing to hear how you LET God use you. I wonder how many souls would be touched if each of us gave ourselves into His hands to be used however He would bid us.