We are each designed for a unique and divine purpose. Live yours!

Monday, December 29, 2008

A New Ministry Opportunity

Before I address the title, let me just say that "Rhoda" did a fabulous job, along with her narrator, telling the story of the birth of Jesus. It was so much fun to tell the story with my son narrating and my husband as an 'audience member.' My husband had not experienced me portraying a character before and I was excited he wanted to come along with us.

Every time I portray a character it has been the result of many hours of research and much prayer. I so desire the listeners to 'feel and see and hear' what the character sees and feels and hears. I am going to continue to develop characters throughout 2009. In fact one of my writing goals is to develop one new character a month (yikes!).

On to the subject at hand. I have been invited to team an Epiphany weekend. The weekend will be similar to my Emmaus weekend, except the team will be ministering to young men (under 21) who are in maximum security detention.

I felt a call to work in prison ministry a couple of years ago and at first my husband wasn't crazy about the idea. He's warmed up to it though as I have visited the Correctional Center for Women in Goochland twice and the Greensville Correctional Center (men-maximum security) once. Since I came back no worse for wear and assured him I was adequately protected, he feels a little better. (Besides, he knows I'm going to go if I'm called and He trusts I'll have a hedge of protection around me.) I had even accepted a job to provide "life skills training sessions" to men at the Pamunkey Regional Jail in Hanover County about 2 years ago, but the group that provided the training were just terribly unorganized and the communication was so poor I quit before I ever got to work with any of the men!

My pastor was quite surprised when I first shared my call with him. He asked me, "Mary . . . have you ever been in a prison?" I understand his reaction/ question. I appear to be a pretty "white bread" girl from the suburbs (meaning pretty sheltered and not very worldly). But guess what? I am not at all! I am fearless and I am strong and I "get it" when it comes to being broken and sin-filled.

Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. [Galatians 3:23]

That's why I'm not afraid of prisoners or anyone else, for that matter! Not that I'm reckless or would ever intentionally place myself in danger that wasn't necessary. But I'm not scared to minister to men and women in prison or a homeless shelter, on the streets or anywhere else.

Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. [Hebrews 13:3]

This year I am focusing on "radical hospitality," a term I heard a speaker mention a few months ago. The concept really intrigues me and I am exploring what it means (different things to different people, I think).

–noun, plural -ties.
1. the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers.
2. the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.

The Unexpected Joy of Radical Hospitality
February 5, 2006 - Paul Habersang

"True Christian hospitality requires a giving of ourselves – an opening up of who we are – and a willingness to stretch our sometimes narrow lives. Extending ourselves for the sake of others invites us to grow – to experience those who are different from us and perhaps learn to see new perspectives through the lens of another person. Hospitality ultimately asks us to step beyond our self-centeredness and see a larger world that extends beyond our comfort zones."

It's not for everyone - and we all are called to be hospitable in differing ways. But, in about 3 weeks I'll begin the 4-Saturday-mornings-training sessions and then serve on the team for the President's Day Weekend event. I am so excited to have an opportunity to minister to these young men and to support them as they experience the powerful, healing love of Jesus Christ for perhaps the first time in their lives.

Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. [Romans 12:13]


Edie said...

Hi Mary, God bless you in your new ministry. Whom God calls, He also equips. I'm sure you will be a blessing to those you are called to minister to.

Enjoy your New Year!

Spring M Fricks said...

What an awesome call! God's people are desparately needed in this area and I know you will be used in mighty ways. Praise God for your willingness to obey Him!

Jenniflower said...

Mary, how very true and what a wonderful calling to have! May our Lord continue to bless you and give you wisdom in your outreach.