This pondering is inspired by a recent visit to the Kirikiri female prisons in Lagos, Nigeria. It is dedicated to Ivana Akaraiwe for making it happen.
The visit was to mark her 50th Birthday, she wanted to spend the special day fellowshiping with female residents of the prison. As we worshipped with these ladies living in confinement, the Holy Spirit ministered these 5 points to me which I’m sharing to inspire someone today.
1. I created you all beautiful in my image (Gen 1:27)
There is no such thing as prisoners, they are regular people; one thing we had joked about as we rode to the prisons was the importance of the visitors tags we would be issued, several warnings were issued “don’t loose your tags or you won’t be let out”, to this our response was “seriously?, do we look like prisoners?”
Beloved, not so, the ladies living in the prison are just like you and I, created by God in His image, the only difference is mercy.
2. Rejoice, that situation can’t compare to this (Phil 4:4)
Gratitude has no chains. They praised, they sang, they danced, they laughed. They put their past at the foot of Jesus and were looking up to Him for peace today and a better tomorrow. And I thought of our local assemblies where we have to cajole people to shout hallelujah.
Beloved, not so, no burden should hinder our praise. Our praise should always be spontanous, because of who He is and not where we are.
3. Speak always with grace (Col 4:6)
A kind word turns away wrath, always allow the Holy spirit be in control. Some of the stories that brought these ladies to Kirikiri are mind boggling; just a few minutes of anger, loss of self control and the enemy takes over – the dust settles and a life is lost with a case of manslaughter or even murder hanging over ones head.
Beloved, not so, resist that temptation to always have the last word, to raise our voices, to always be right, to strike (with hand or mouth), to always have our way. May God have mercy.
4. Always choose the giving side (Matt 25:35-36)
Don’t always be the helped, seize small opportunities to be the helper.
One thing the celebrant said ceaselessly was “Nothing was too small, even just your presence is sufficient for this mission”.
Many times, we put our needs ahead of God’s needs, beloved not so. Your ‘little’ will always go a long way in someone else’s life. We put smiles on the women’s faces, we encouraged them. A large percentage of them have not yet been convicted, their trials have been long and slow as they can’t afford legal services – now, some will be going home because they will get some funding for legal support (you won’t believe how little is required in some cases).
5. Jesus is what we need (1 John 1:9-10)
Sin is not a respecter of persons, whether within or outside the prison walls the common denominator man needs is the admission and confession of sin. We fall into the trap of self righteousness, thinking its a world of ‘we vs them’.
Beloved, not so, the Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Rom 3:23). So, each of us, regardless of prison walls need to work daily at living a life above sin through the power of Jesus Christ.
These are my 5 ponderings, triggered by the prison walls which can not hold the spirit, shared to inspire and hopefully to kick-start a life long attitude of gratitude in somebody’s life from today.
Revel in the freedom which exists only in the Lord Jesus.