Posted on May 17 2019
Written by Faith Johns
“Am I supposed to be here?” inquired a scared, insecure, 18 year old female inmate at a four day Christian retreat. In my most assuring voice I said, “Yes, God has a plan and purpose for your life just like it says in Jeremiah (29:11 - For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future).” The unsure inmate shared that in order to participate in this Kairos weekend she had to give up her weekly visit with her one and only contact to the outside world, her mother. She shared that she depends on these visits as her source of strength. I encouraged her to stay for the weekend. In my heart, I prayed that God would become her sustenance as I knew his grace was sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9 – But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfect in weakness”).
The inmate wrung her hands, fretted, and was outwardly wrought with turmoil throughout the day, over the impact of her decision to stay on this retreat with a God she did not know. As the enemy pressed in harder, the inmate questioned, “How do I know I am supposed to be here?” Then the enemy swept over me as I felt convicted that I had not spent time memorizing scripture to combat Satan’s flying darts (Psalm 119:11 I have hidden your word in my heart). Half-heartedly I encouraged the inmate to pray about it. Internally I was praying that the inmate would stay and learn more about my daddy, Abba Father. In a snarky tone, the non believing inmate replied, “I don’t need to pray, I just need a sign that I am supposed to be here or I am bailing.” Knowing that clergy would present who Jesus Christ was later in the day, I moaned in my spirit, “No Lord, don’t let her walk away. Not today.”
Before long, the prison’s chaplain sauntered over and informed the inmate that her mother had to cancel the weekly visit because a repairman needed to come fix the malfunctioning cable box. Welling up with gratitude to the Lord, I was so proud that he was meeting this inmate where she was emotionally. God had indeed delivered that sign post that surely would convince her that this was her Kairos time with the Lord. Here was that Gideon moment where God had saturated a fleece with dew (Judges 6:33-38 – Gideon said to God, If there is dew on the fleece and all the ground is dry, I will know that you will save Israel by my hand. And that is what happened. Gideon rose early the next day; he squeezed the fleece and wrung out the dew – a bowlful of water) With zealous pride I announced, “Sounds to me like you got your sign.” Much to my chagrin, the inmate said, “No, I need a sure thing, a sign that is personal to me.” After I recovered from my judgmental shock and awe, I encouraged her to pray about it. Silently, I began to beg the Lord to win this inmate over and to knock her down with the grace that only he can provide. I didn’t pray the, “Be still and let her know you are God,” prayer. No with brazen audacity, I prayed, “Knock her over the head with a 2 x 4 and make it known you are the creator of the heavens and the Earth.”
When dinner was served that night, a hand-colored placement from a child was put beneath this inmate’s plate of food. With an audible wail, the inmate burst into tears and could not catch her breath. In my feeble mind, I assumed she was crying because she hadn’t had fried chicken and barbecue in a number of years. However, when the inmate continued to cry profusely, I sensed it was more than the food. Once she regained her composure I asked her what transpired. She exclaimed, “Look at the words on my placemat!!” I glanced and saw, “JD-7” written in the bottom right hand corner. Traditionally, children in churches draw and color pictures on placemats that Kairos brings into the prison as a sign of God’s love. I explained to the inmate that the words meant a child named J.D. that was seven years old made the placemat. With joyful expression she gasped, “I know I am supposed to be here. God does have a plan for my life. I got my sign.” I treaded lightly as I inquired, “How do you know?” While shedding tears like Niagara Falls, she explained, “In the prison, I live in Dorm J, Quad D, and I sleep in bunk number 7.” The hairs on the back on my neck stood up, my eyes welled up and I thanked the Lord in my spirit.
This was her Gideon moment just like in Judges 6:38-40. Gideon asked for one more sign by having the fleece dry and the ground covered in dew. That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry: all the ground was covered with dew.
Because of this sign, the inmate came to know her Father. Both our faiths were increased because of this Gideon moment and the lengths God will go to for one of his children.
By Faith Johns