Last year, as I stood “between three grads” in the living room of our Southern Area Field Coordinator’s home, singing Christmas Carols together, my mind was fixed on another Christmas…thirty years ago in a tiny Prison Chapel. It was December 1984. The Chaplain at CRC asked if I would come and lead the women in singing Christmas Carols.
Aglow had just held our very FIRST Aglow meeting for prison ministry in November, and since I had been helping him all year, I suppose he was confident I would do this too for him. I had led Christmas choirs, dramas and many children’s programs for both school and church events, so I was delighted! The experience turned out to be a night I will remember for the rest of my life. God brought a tender revelation into my heart through those Christmas songs which I will treasure forever!
May this story do the same for “you in prison ministry” as it has done for me.
The women were already waiting in the small CRC Chapel when I arrived. I think we had a list of Carols to choose from, and I remember praying first before I sat down to the piano…where I was always most comfortable 😊. We began to sing together, and immediately sensed the sweet presence of Jesus in that little room.
After singing a few songs, I looked up from the piano into the women’s faces and realized most everyone was crying. I felt awful…! I worried that it was just too emotional to keep singing. I stood up, ‘tried to make’ a difficult situation easier and said, “If this makes you sad, we can sing other choruses or hymns tonight.”
Immediately several answered, “Oh no! Don’t stop…We love these songs!”
Then one of the strong Christian girls simply said, “Earlene, we are crying because it’s the first time we understand what the WORDS mean. WE KNOW JESUS NOW.”
We continued singing as they asked “Can we sing ALL the verses?” Of course, it took the entire time, but was such a precious way to experience God’s Love .
I believe “our Jill” was Chaplain’s Clerk and probably singing with us, but I don’t know if she ever realized the impact that memorable “CRC Caroling Night” had on my life! It changed my heart about Christmas, and I love sharing it with you.
Psalm 104:33 Living Bible (TLB)
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live.
I will praise God to my last breath!