Yesterday morning I had the opportunity to go back to the James A. Musick Prison Facility in Irvine, California. There by the grace of God go I, right? Any of us could have circumstances that could lead us down a tough road. After spending close to two hours with 100 incarcerated women, mostly moms, talking about the deep power that is found in praising God in the darkest of times, well, there were lots of tears and HUGE smiles of hope and even relief. These pictures are from my friend Jana Alayra’s phone in not so great lighting, but hopefully you get the idea. For security reasons, we are not able to photograph faces. But let me try to paint the picture for you… Some dark eyes, some light blue, some wide-eyed, some piercing and cold. Some leaning forward wanting to hear every word you have to say, some leaning back with their body language saying, “Yeah right, you’re full of hot air.” But after sharing a recent story of how I learned the power of praising God even when I don’t feel like it, it was BEAUTIFUL to see how the Holy Spirit brought joy and twinkling to these eyes. I’m smiling now as I write remembering how they laughed and smiled and how many tissues were given out as I sang.
Toward the end of the presentation when I asked the women if they had things for which they were now able to praise God, it warmed my heart to see how many hands went up. Answers included “my children”, “the cool tile floor”, “the opportunity to be here”, “God’s healing” and it was interesting to hear how many people said, “My mom”.
Thank you Kathie Wickam and Jana Alayra for your help in transportation. If you don’t know Jana’s awesome music ministry, check her out at www.janaalayra.com. She has been ministering at this facility for years and I hope to do the same. Continue to keep the incarcerated on your radar – pray, visit, write. Take a look at Matthew 25:37-40. I praise God that I had the opportunity and look forward to returning again soon.