In the comfort of my American lifestyle, it is easy to forget the hearts of women across the globe who are suffering deeply. It is comfortable and safe to help someone out at our local church (and we should), but how often does our mind wonder to the lost souls who are criminals. How often do we think about women, convicted and alone, living out their sentences in a prison cell. I know that as me, until this trip to Laredo where I met two women involved in a women’s prison ministry, I had not.
A Visit to Laredo, TX Was My Introduction to a Women’s Prison Ministry in Mexico
My girls and I are here in Laredo visiting my parents who are the pastors for New Vision Community Church (NVCC) (You can read about the amazing ministries of this little church in How a Small Church Can Make a Difference). Two ladies from their church are involved in a women’s prison ministry in Nuevo Laredo, a Mexican town right across the border from Laredo, TX. Every Saturday morning they share the gospel with the female inmates and bring comfort and a little joy to a dark and somber place. I am currently not able to cross the border (didn’t bring my passport), but my girls and I were still able to take part in this very important prison ministry.
Letters From the Inmates Reveals Their Desperate Need for Love
My father, the head pastor, approached me and asked if I would help respond to letters some of the inmates had written. I volunteered to do six and in my typical father fashion, he gave me eleven. As I opened each letter and peeked into each woman’s soul, my heart ached for them. These were all women that had come to accept Jesus Christ in prison. They had experienced liberty in repenting, but they were still bound by their circumstances. They will have to finish their time served before they could be free from their jail cell.
Each woman had a different story to tell. Some just needed to vent, others desperately asked for prayers so that they could return to their families, their children. One insisted she was innocent, others admitted that they were guilty and asked God for help in becoming better people.
While being on the outside, it is easy to look at these women and judge. Only God knows if they are truly repentant, but I am convinced that the abuse, the loneliness, the rejection, the extreme poverty many of these women endured played a significant role in propelling them to their current situation.
Jesus Instructed Us to Minister to Those in Prison
Regardless of our feelings about why these women are there, Jesus has instructed us Christians to minister to those in prison (Matthew 25) and I was thankful to be part of it. These are women, that in many ways, have been forgotten by society and even by the church. But they are still women that need love, and forgiveness, and were still created in God’s image.
I have to admit that at first it felt a little overwhelming, especially since I had already committed myself to helping in other ways and I don’t like writing letters by hand. But after reading each of the women’s letter, I felt compelled to respond. And since being here is suppose to help teach our entire family the importance of service (read more about why we came to Laredo in Family Mission), I asked my ten-year-old and five-year-old to help me. I had them color scripture cards to accompany my letters.
The letters and cards were done and we turned them in. A few days later, the woman in charge of the prison ministry thanked me and told me what an amazing blessing it had been to the women. They were overjoyed to have received letters and were able to take them back to their cells. I have to admit that I felt a little guilty that I first saw this important task as just another chore, but I am glad that I followed through with it. I do hope and pray that with God’s help, I was able to write the words that would help them in their spiritual journey.
Little Acts of Kindness Can Make a Big Difference
I may have a chance to write a few more letters with the remaining weeks I have in Laredo and after I leave, I will go back to PA and continue doing the things that I do. However, there will be two women here in Laredo that will make their way across the border every Saturday to minister to new and old souls. And my father will diligently respond to letters as they come in. I am thankful for their service, their example of Christ’s love, and the lesson they taught me.
You don’t always have to do something extraordinary to make a difference. Sometimes a little note to a person that desperately needs kind words can help heal their wounds.
I want to encourage you, the reader, to take a little time to pray and ask God what you can do today to make someone’s life a little brighter?
Can you think of someone you have been hesitant to talk to because their lifestyle is less than godly in our eyes?
I leave you with a little prayer to stir your heart for service.
I am interested in your thoughts! Leave your comments below.