Buried Treasures!

Deep within the fabric of the American way, buried on the outside of many towns all across America, hidden among the American dream are treasures ready to be found.

Like a piece of fabric woven together, these treasures, each one, representing brokenness behind bars, a life just waiting to be set free.   I took my first step onto the prison grounds, my eyes started to well up and tears  started to flow down my cheeks.

This was the very first time in my life that I actually felt like I was standing on Holy Ground. I could feel the presence  of God right there in a place where most people did not choose to go and where many never get to leave.

I entered the camp, signs of prison life where sprinkled through out the yard. The bars on the windows were visible, the chained fences around the out door activity centers were evident and the guards through out the walk way were a sure sign that I too had entered the other side.

With all the signs that were coming at me, saying with out words “you have arrived”, I still did not see one prisoner.

My first experience with God’s broken daughters came as we entered the faith-based dorms. The women greeted a team of us with cheers, tears and hugs. It felt like arriving at a family reunion, meeting relatives for the first time, recognizing the family resemblance in our brokenness.

An overwhelming sense of God’s presence kept my tears coming as I watched women praising God in all their brokenness. They danced and sang as if they had just been released from the chains that kept them bound.  I had fallen in love with these women immediately and when our time with them that evening ended, I found it very difficult to leave.  

The next day, still no prisoners to be found, even though all the signs of a prison yard were in front of me just like the day before all I could see were beautifully broken woman.  I was still in a place of disbelief, I almost felt like I was playing a mental game of hid and seek and that any moment I might find a prisoner just standing in front of me.

These women came to hear the message; some hearing for the very first time that there was away out of the shame and guilt of their past and a hope for their future. The fear of the unknown, the fear of going back to what I only knew, that was a prison sentence in itself. Fear of rejection from a world that requires perfection, fear of failing and falling short of the standards of society.
I saw more freedom in those three days then I had ever seen through the doors of a church. 

Woman praising God as they stood stripped of everything.  It is written, “You must loose your life to gain it”. And though most did not hand it over they did loose it and the benefit of that was evident as I spoke with many woman who came to realize that the bars they use to curse were now the very thing they thanked God for.

The lie these ladies believe, “You are worthless”! “You are what you did”! “You are forever condemned.”! Those words are flung at His daughters from the dark side. It is those of us who have traveled that road, who have been healed and set free, that are being called to go back into those places and break those lies.

As I sat among the inmates preparing to deliver a message, I could feel God speaking to my heart. He wanted me to tell His daughters’ that they were beautiful, I fought with that because I thought they must already know it; can’t they see what I see? I was quickly reminded about the time that very word was spoken into my life. When I was called beautiful by a new friend, inside I felt angry and wanted to shout out at her, “You don’t even know me”! “You don’t know what I have done! 

That simple word spoken into my life eventually became my truth.
So in faith, when it was my time to share I got up, looked out into the most beautiful sea of woman I had ever seen and simply said, I have a message from the Lord. “Daughters you are beautiful”, that is all I said, then I started walking up to individuals and speaking that truth into their lives. 
Woman were crying and praising God and I believe for the first time in many of their lives they started believing that they were beautiful because of who they were not because of what they did, a lifetime of lies, broken with three words, “You are beautiful.”

My time came to an end and it was time to leave.  I was blessed beyond anything I could have imagined. The women  came up to me and said “thank you” and I just looked at them and said “no, thank you.” They let me into their pain they allowed me to enter into areas where no one else had ever gone. I learned along time ago that you cannot  keep it if you are not willing to  give it away.

Many of have asked about these woman, where they came from and what they did. We did not ask those questions, it did not matter to us anymore than it did to God.

I will tell you though, that I did meet mothers and sisters, daughters and grandmas. College graduates, pastors and ministry leaders, doctors and lawyers, drug dealers and robbers, hookers and abusers and addicts and winos. But that is what they did not who they are. The woman I met, the buried treasures behind bars where beautiful daughters of God.  They were daughters’ of the maker of this universe and the creator of all mankind.  

Buried Treasures Everywhere!

"Beauty From Ashes"

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