“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” – EPHESIANS 6:19-20
A few years ago, we traveled with our team in Romania to one of the largest women’s prisons in the city. Our team has been working with these beautiful women for many years. Upon our arrival we had to go through the many gates and security checkpoints mandated by most prisons. We were asked to leave our phones and identification at the gate as we were not allowed to take any pictures of our work or the women in the meeting.
It was quite extraordinary as the guards led us through each section of the property until we came to the room where we met the women. As we waited and prayed for our presentations, more than 100 women entered the room. It was a regular weekly meeting, and the women were excited to meet the visitors from America, Germany and Finland. Women ranging from 19 to 70 years old sat talking and sharing life in prison together. Our meeting lasted for a few hours, all the participants sitting in one room with no bathroom or way of escape. The guards were always present at every door.
As we started our presentations, our team shared personal testimonies of God’s grace, mercy and hope. I remember sitting next to a beautiful young woman who was only 19 years old. During one of the presentations, I could see her eyes fill with tears many times as she heard the stories. Her time at the prison was coming to an end, and she was to be released in a week.
As she heard the testimonies of God’s grace and forgiveness, she asked me for prayer. She was seeking God’s protection in the world she would be entering the following week. As we prayed, It was a blessing to see her find some hope and understanding that God was near and very real in her life that day. Every one of us has a unique story of God’s grace and mercy. I know when I’m asked to tell my story of freedom, hope and healing, I still worry that my listeners will not hear God’s miracles and truth in my story but instead will only hear the devastating realities of sin, sexual abuse, pride and my fear of death.
I must admit that well-meaning people have suggested to me that I not tell certain painful parts of my story, because those parts may make listeners uncomfortable. It’s those parts of my story, however, that have had the greatest impact on many women who are walking the same path and feeling very alone. We never know when or how God will use our personal stories of hope and healing in Jesus. What is your story? How has God released you from the prisons of pride, greed or fear? Don’t be afraid to share your story, knowing that there is something in your story that will give others hope for today. We can praise God this month that his love is unending, extravagant and the same yesterday, today and forever. Praise God that he has given you a story of hope and healing in Jesus.