This note was written by Mary Alice, a dear woman I don't think I've ever met face to face, but through whose letters I am DRIVEN to know the Word better, and to carry it deeper, that others may be set free from their prisons, just like I was set free from the one of my own making.
Free Indeed! Thank God Almighty, I know the Truth, and the Truth has set me free!
May you be blessed, convicted if need be, and DRIVEN into the Word of God.
Get the tissue box. Don't say I didn't warn you!
Love you today, Jes
Like cold water to a weary soul, So is good news from a distant land. Proverbs 25:25
Dear Praying Friends,
The afternoon class was so excited to get started, they crowded around me like little hungry children as they came in with stories of how they made it to class and "do you have a pencil I can borrow' and "I couldn't bring anything through work exchange, do you have any paper I can use?" "Can we keep the books?" "Do I get one?"
"Please sit down, and we will get started," I chuckled.
As eager eyes watched me pull out the books, I explained they had to earn the books by perfect attendance and participating in class for a few weeks. "I do not have enough books for everyone, but if we all have a Bible, we will be fine, I encouraged.
I informed the students that this was primarily a Spanish study, but the English students could join us. I had underestimated the response to this class. I have 30 books in English and 40 translated copies in Spanish. I have over 100 students....oops! This class is 90 percent new to studying God's word! The old-timers (student that have been with me before) will gladly give up their books because they realize the book is not all important; it's what is learned and applied that is important! (But when in prison, there are few possessions, and these lovely books are a treasure.)
As the ladies learned how to study inductively and investigate the Scriptures, the excitement grew even greater. We are studying forgiveness. At the end of class, two eager students in the front row were amazed how awful and dysfunctional Joseph's family was. "What? Are you kidding me? They threw Joseph in a pit? They sold him? Well, that dad should never have showed favoritism...He was just wrong for doing that!"
On the way out I heard one of them say, "I'm gonna read ahead in Genesis 37 and get the rest of this story!...Hey Miss MaryAlice, is it ok if we read ahead?!"
I held back my burst of laughter until they left the room, "Well, if you wanna cheat, ok," I teased. "Of course you may read ahead in the Bible anytime! You don't need my permission!"
How precious they are and how humbling this service is He has given us. That's why it's so important you know what's going on, so you know your prayers are necessary. New believers and malnourished believers (those who have studied little) and seekers are easy prey for the enemy.
Now for the night class...They too were excited and most were well prepared! The old-timers in this class were like horses at the starting gate...raring to go! I had to hold them back so the newcomers could join in! And that's hard to do in a class of over a 100 students! We are studying Deuteronomy, as you recall, and in the first lesson I brought in a little review of the previous studies. I could have leaped off the stage with excitement as they recalled and fitted together past studies. It was just downright excitin'!
Vanessa was there, front row center. Still looking downcast, but no cuts. We had so much territory to cover I did not have time to speak with her. Please continue praying for her.
Melvenia is harboring unforgiveness, we discovered. She is wrestling with it along with menopause. Please pray she humbles herself this week.
All yards were released this week. Last week, C yard, was not released and the ladies were very discouraged. Please pray all yards get released. Many times the inmates stand out in the cold for half an hour to get released and the guards turn them back due to a short amount of staff or a fight or something! Many have told me they want to cry. (Of course, in prison you learn to suck back the tears...it's a sign of weakness to cry. You will get picked on or beat up if you do. It's only safe to cry in the Chapel. And they hide it when they do.)
Thank you again dear friends for joining me in this fertile ministry God has given us.
Your Fellow Servant,
A bondservant of Jesus Christ
Set apart for the gospel of God