Each week, I prepare a song and a few Bible verses to share with the group I meet with in prison, and then I look forward to seeing what God will make of our time together.
This week, my group included Trevor, a self-confessed Satanist who was covered with tattoos; Alexis, a young woman who was nervous about being released soon without any support lined up to help her fight her addiction; and a few others. Some I knew and others I didn’t. Finally, Alfonzo came in, but he wasn’t yet sure if he wanted to stay.
I began by collecting prayer requests from the group. Alexis wanted to pray for help in fighting her addiction. Trevor, the avowed Satanist, wanted to pray for the safety of his 5-year-old daughter. Another lady in the group simply wanted to pray for everyone else’s concerns. I continued collecting requests from the group and when I got to Alfonzo, he said, “I would like to pray about Fruits of the Holy Spirit and putting on the Armor of God.”
Alfonzo’s request made my jaw drop. I turned to him and asked, “Did you happen to see the handout sheet I brought in for today?” On the sheet I had prepared were six sets of Bible verses. The first was about “Fruits of the Spirit” in Ephesians, and the last was about “The Armor of God.” Needless to say, Alfonzo stayed for the entire class and didn’t leave until group was over. God had obviously known what was on Alfonzo’s heart and that he’d be coming to our group that day.
The song I had chosen for the day was “Hills and Valleys.” We talked about the mountaintop moments in our life — times when everything is good. The song reminds us that “we didn’t get there on our own,” rather the good times are gifts from God. Then we talked about the valleys — the dark times when we’re not sure what’s ahead. Here, the song offered us comfort by reminding us that even during the dark times, we are not alone. Our God is the God of the hills and valleys who is always with us to help us navigate the good and the bad.
We closed with prayer and thanked God for letting us be in His presence, hear His words, sing His praises, and pray together. While I’m not sure each member of this group will meet again next week, I am grateful that God was able to show us that He is there, preparing for group even before I write or print out the sheet and before they choose to pass through the door and come. He’s knocking on the door to their hearts and will continue to follow each of them.
Here is a beautiful song by Tauren Wells - Hills and Valleys