Yes its true Danielle and I were both in prison on Sunday. Actually, just visiting so not technically IN prison but we did get a metal detector sweep and a very intimate pat down before being able to enter. Once we had our shoes and jackets back on and were Ok'd to proceed we went in past the two ginormous sets of Razor Wire an armed Guard tower, and were escorted into the Prison walls. Johnny Moffitt always says " Prisons have two sets of walls...One to Keep the Prisoners IN and one to keep Everyone Else OUT."
Well, we were allowed in as Chapel Volunteers pretty easily on Sunday, which were told is not always the Norm, so we were happy. We had twelve people all together led by some friends of ours Linda and Randy, and Al and Tammy. Johnny and Betty Moffitt were there along with Gina and Travis and Me and Danielle. At first I thought it was going to be difficult to get all of us through all the units we were told we would only have an hour to visit, but then I realized we were all splitting up. Even through I had just visited prison in Mexico, this was going to be the first time inside with Danielle and the first time inside with out someone I knew. I mean I'm still a rookie and don't even know all the rules yet.
But alas we overcame the apprehension and were both glad we did. Danielle and I first traveled trough Ad Seg for Cell to Cell Visitation. Ad Seg is short for Administrative Segregation. This is sometimes used for Inmates that are either a threat to themselves or someone else and means that they are in their cell up to 20 or more hours a day. Mountain view is a women's Prison and Danielle and I were in the Ad Seg block visiting about 6 inmates for about an hour. A couple of the ladies wanted prayer for anger or bitterness and one for just having lost her niece.
One of the things that encouraged me the most was how enthusiastic one inmate (Millie) was about God and how Jesus had saved her. She was more than willing to share the gospel with us and tell about how God has been by her side while on the inside. She did tell us about how hard the past five months have been on her and we could gather she was in Ad Seg for her issues with authority. We were able to encourage her to stay steadfast and not to lose grip what she has been holding onto for 6 of her 15 years of incarceration.
Another inmate that I was encouraged by was Julie. She has been in prison for much of her children's time growing up, and is very worried that her kids will fall under the same influences that she did. She was not without faith as she spoke and We could see joy still in her cell as she sang gospel songs for us and the other inmates. I prayed that her children would be protected and that Julie would have peace and would not be worrisome about their well being.
I am still moved by how impactfull this visit was for me. I knew going into yesterday that I had nothing to offer and that i could not give these women anything but my time and presence and I truly believe that God was there in our midst and gave us the words to speak and the prayers to pray over them.
After our time was up, we said goodbye and headed to the Chapel for our afternoon service. The building looks like it will hold about 200 people and there were definitely not many seats left empty. We started out with some praise songs and Christmas tunes and heard from Tammy, Travis and Johnny. My biggest take away was the attentiveness and eagerness to soak up as much teaching and love as possible. All, we did was show up and show love and I know for a fact that God showed through.
While not everyone was eager to be around us or chat with us, I know that Tenishai, Millie, Julie and Delia heard what they have been waiting for. I think thgat for those few moments we spent in Ad Seg, it was Our time, Our Smiles and Our Prayers that made God real for the inmates and their words and reactions that made God real to me.
I know that we will be back soon and often. With close to 200, 000 inmates in Texas we shouldn't run out of people anxious and in need of a Godly friend. I will choose to go back in because I feel like God has a purpose and a plan which will allow us the freedom to explore His gifting in our lives, a freedom to speak His word, and freedom to share His love with the world especially if "The World" means Mountain View Prison.
"I would rather be FREE in Here than Locked Up out THERE" Julie - Ad Seg Texas