Each of them sat politely on my couch with hands folded and Bibles on their laps. Looking expectantly at me, waiting for me to impart words of spiritual wisdom, I suddenly felt a wave of unexpected emotion.
“They look so normal,” I thought. “Like ordinary women, gathered together for Bible study.”
Immediately, I felt guilt and shame over my preconceived notion of what I thought they would look like. These women, having just been released from prison, were nothing like I’d expected.
Even my husband, who is the kindest, gentlest man on earth, had been apprehensive about me leading a Bible study for ex-prisoners. And when I told him they were coming to our house, he was even more alarmed. “Shame on us,” I thought, as I smiled at their beautiful, eager faces.
Never in a million years did I think I’d be leading a Bible study for women coming out of prison. Yet there I was, trying to walk in courageous obedience to God’s call. It had started with my friend, Marlene, who had been courageous enough to start Esther’s House, a Christian home for women. Her program was like no other, a place where women, seeking spiritual growth before integrating from prison back into society, could live for a period of one year.
Part of the Esther’s House program was weekly Bible studies. My friend knew that I had written and taught many women’s Bible studies before. So when she asked if I’d be interested in leading a study for the Esther’s House ladies, I sensed a stirring in my heart that both surprised and scared me.
I remember thinking, “Could God really be asking me to lead a Bible study for ex-prisoners?“ That was WAY out of my comfort zone! But bit by bit, the Lord produced a tiny flame in my heart and prompted me, by His Spirit, to lead these women the best I knew how.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Ben Kolde