“Going to Jail”

Recently, I was telling a friend about my experience teaching at the Hamilton County Justice Center on the women’s wing, face to face with the prisoners. At the time I had been leading Bible studies with Women’s Aglow. On the local evening news I heard that they were giving a tour of the newly built Justice Center the next day. I was convinced I should go. While there I signed up for a pass to teach Bible study to the women in the jail.

Interior of Justice Center before it was populated

If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

Psalm139:8 KJV

Teaching Scripture at the Justice Center was like ‘walking into hell on purpose’. Linda and I would meet that morning and take communion in her kitchen. We would pray and intercede all the way downtown. Park the car. Get her guitar and my teaching materials. Enter the Justice Center. Show our badges. Go to the Chaplain’s office and leave our purses and personal belongings.

If the guards were sensitive to our purpose they might turn the TV volume down. You have not taught the Word until you do it in a cinder block room with the $10,000.00 dollar Pyramid playing in the background. I quickly learned how to project my voice!

We’d have the ladies sign in with their name and prisoner number. With that information we could write them a note card. We never asked any of them what they did or were accused of that landed them in that place. We just ‘loved on them’ and brought them the New Testament teachings on how to live for Christ.

After the time at jail, usually in Linda’s driveway, we would split the name list. On our own time we would pray over each name and write a card using a Scripture for their encouragement as led by the Holy Spirit.

Next time we saw the women some would often say it was just the verse they needed, asking, “How did you know?” We would answer them that we prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to give us the verse they needed. Sometimes the notes would move the women to share with their fellow prisoners and more women would attend on their say so.

photo on line

All of this was a tremendous time of spiritual warfare, faith building and learning for both myself and Linda. It was hard only if we tried to do it in our own strength. With God it was possible and rewarding to both of us.

When I sensed that it was my time to step down, Linda continued to serve in ministry there for 15 years. She recruited others to help her and the work carried on to thousands of women over the years.

God ordained, arranged and coordinated that ministry. We followed in obedience and did our best to listen to His voice each step of the way. To God be all the glory! I pray those women came to know Him and walk with Him even today.

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