February 18- February 21, 2009 / 5 events in 4 days! Way to go team!
What can I say, except that the trip rocked and the people we met were just amazing, inside and outside, it truly is such a blessing to be able to serve in such an incredible way. Our first event was on Wed. night, we met with Jackie’s daughter’s small group, combined with a few gals from Jackie’s small group as well. We quickly went from a meeting about information to testimonies about redemption. There were prisoners among us and they did not even know it. The women seemed to be intrigued but what was more amazing was the silent gasps as what I believe where these young women feeling connected to those behind bars, and the tears that where shed as both myself and Deanna shared our own personal struggles which quickly bridged the gap between us and them. We had one gal immediately step up to volunteer from Amanda’s small group as well as a gal named Louse who I believe is also interested. Not to mention the prayer support the groups will provide. I think we had around 15 or so women on that night.
Thursday night we met with Shadow Mountain Church, once again, Jackie did a great job of connecting with those in charge and a beautiful dinner was served and a perfect set up for the presentation. We had local chaplains join us, others involved in the prison ministry and even a local television preacher who runs a couple of transitional living homes in Southern CA. Deanna and Jackie did an incredible job of sharing the ministry and Valerie Perez (my mom) came to support us as our prayer warrior for this sweep. The feeling among those in the room was relief as we spent time talking with individuals who are in desperate need of ministry partners. The looks on those in the room are priceless when we say we are here to serve you! There were around 50 people who joined us that night and I believe the success came from the fact that everyone there that night has servants hearts. DOD has away of not only bridging the gap between the intimates and church but also between different ministries as people realize that we can work together rather then against each other. It was a great night of serving.
Friday night was our night in Lynwood where a team of seven of us went into Orange County Jail. Two angels disguised as chaplains greeted us, I really believe this. These two ladies were amazing women who loved the women they served an it was apparent by the smiles on their faces and the gleam in their eyes as they shared about their ministry. As we all gathered around to prepare to go in the chaplain received a call that there was a lock down and that we were not going to be able to get in. Quickly prayers went out and quickly we received our clearance but not without a few more distractions but we did eventually make in to our destinations. We split the teams up into two that night and entered the units we were all chosen for. I was not only impressed with the chaplains but also the guards working on the units I were in, seemed to have a sternness about them with an underlining love for the ladies. Between the two teams we were able to minister to 250 ladies, 100 ladies came to except Christ as their savior. Praise God for our new family members. My favorite part of the night was when we closed service, Chaplain Maria led us all in Amazing Grace, powerful, it echoed in the unit. The inmates and chaplains are all excited to have DOD come back in for seminars.
Saturday morning we had to be back at the jail at 8:15 AM, now we were not planning on going in until 9AM but the Chaplains had a full continental breakfast ready for us. We were treated so well by these ladies, they blessed us in so many ways, with their kind words to their unselfish actions. So the team gathered in the chaplain’s office, enjoyed breakfast together as a team, and prayed before we started our morning. Iron sharpening iron at its best went on that morning. We broke into three teams on this morning, ready and excited from the night before, with our worship team in a box ready to go. Between the three services, we had 118 women present, 40 ladies except Christ for the first time and 30 rededicated their lives. So many tears where shed on Sat. morning, I was so thankful that we were able to leave them with Deanna’s book which is such a powerful tool. Another powerful time behind bars with some of God’s most precious daughters.
We got out of their around 12:00PM which gave Deanna, Jackie and I just enough time to get some lunch, go home and rest before we had to be at Saddleback for the presentation there. Again, Jackie did a great job of connecting with those we could partner with as well as reach out to. Valerie joined us for this event as our prayer warrior and we had a great turn out of Chaplains, volunteers and community servants who were interested in hearing more about DOD. The O.C. Juvenile Chaplain spoke before us, showed an incredible DVD, and if you did not know better you would have thought we had planned it all, his presentation went perfect with ours, what a match. The evening was again a success because relationships were built with others who have the heart to reach out to the incarcerated and the family of those as well. The DOD team did a wonderful job of representing the ministry. The most powerful part of the evening was watching the expression on the people in the seats change from feeling like they were in this by themselves to a look of relief to realize that they were not alone to serve in such an incredibly large vineyard..
Thank you all for commitment to praying for us as a team, for lifting up our families while we were gone and for your faithful service, we could not do what we do if it were not for all of you.