I was introduced to the One Year™ Chronological Bible when I joined a discipleship group led by Iva May in 2010. We used the CBT resource W3: Women, Worldview, and the Word. My eyes were opened and my life transformed as I began to see God interact with His people especially in the Old Testament.
In 2016 when I was told that a prison was moving into our vacant hospital, the first thing I thought was, "How can I get in there with W3?"
My pastor had access to the prison so I asked him if I could go with him; I entered East Arkansas Community Corrections for the very first time. The women at EACC are usually incarcerated for a year and as long as 18 months for crimes related to drug addiction: hot checks, prostitution, robbery, and assault and battery. We had a captive audience! My pastor taught through the book of Romans.
In the summer of 2017, my pastor turned over the monthly teaching responsibility to me. I began teaching out of the W3. I asked the ladies to participate by answering the questions; they were hesitant at first, but after a short time they were totally engaged. I was hooked. The monthly meetings couldn’t come fast enough. In the meantime, a woman from the Exodus Program contacted me in early 2018. She asked me if I would be willing to teach the Exodus Program within EACC. I told her that I had something better in mind.
In the spring of 2018, I approached Ms. Ursula Williams, Program Director and Chaplain Bruce Evans about teaching on a weekly basis. I gave them copies of the W3 as well as copies of the OYCB to preview. We begin teaching one night a week for one hour and a half. Dickie Ann Lashlee, Dianne Hardin, Mrs. Jean Tindell and I took turns teaching from the W3. Our group began small but quickly numbered 50 women—making the group hard to manage. We later limited the group to 25 women.
In the winter of 2019 I became aware that the Parole and Probation (SSP) section of residents did not have weekly Bible teaching except from the Jehovah's Witnesses. They differ from the other residents in that their incarceration was shorter (45-180 days) and their crimes were failure to meet with their parole officers, not paying their fines in a timely manner or breaking the law in other ways. Because they have fewer privileges than the general population (GP) we only had access to them for Sunday chapel. Every fourth Sunday I usually pull threads through the Scripture. After approaching Chaplain Evans we (Dickie Ann, Dianne, and I) were allowed to meet with the SSP ladies on the second and third Friday's of the month.
Joy overflows my heart at how the LORD has equipped me, and many others, to tell the overarching story of the Bible. We have seen women weep over what they have learned as they expand their Bible knowledge from only knowing one story of the Bible to learning the story from Genesis to Revelation. I’ve been especially encouraged to hear one of the Exodus Program ladies tell the story of Joseph to her peers and other women find hope as they struggle with the brokenness of their lives.
More recently God has opened another prison for Dickie Anne and me in Hernando, MS. Every Tuesday we go into DeSoto County Adult Detention and teach from the W3 resource. The chaplain, Mrs. Jackie Willcutt, gives us two hours to teach and minister to the ladies who are serving time for less that a year. We average about 16 ladies per Tuesday. The Bible conversations are animated; we have seen tears of repentance, as well as fists of defiance. No matter what we see, we believe God and trust Him for the harvest.
The lyrics from Steve Green’s song, Find Us Faithful, capture my gratitude to the LORD for exposing me to His big story and giving me the stewardship of teaching it to others. I pray that the footprints that I leave on this earth will lead others to the throne of God.
We're pilgrims on the journey
Of the narrow road,
And those who've gone before us
Line the way.
Cheering on the faithful,
Encouraging the weary,
Their lives a stirring testament
To God's sustaining grace.
O may all who come behind us
Find us faithful,
May the fire of our devotion
Light their way.
May the footprints that we leave,
Lead them to believe,
And the lives we live
Inspire them to obey.
O may all who come behind us
Find us faithful.
Surrounded by so great
A cloud of witnesses,
Let us run the race
Not only for the prize,
But as those who've gone before us.
Let us leave to those behind us,
The heritage of faithfulness
Passed on thru godly lives.
After all our hopes and dreams
Have come and gone,
And our children sift thru all
We've left behind,
May the clues that they discover,
And the mem'ries they uncover,
Become the light that leads them,
To the road we each must find.
March 13, 2020