Last year, Sarah started visiting with some of these Black Hands. It did, indeed, seem hopeless until one meeting when three women came to Christ after hearing Sarah speak. One said, “I’ve thought about this decision for a long time. I feel now is the time to believe in Jesus.” Sarah was deeply touched and began praying for God to open a new door for ministry in the prison.
The answer came in January 2006 when Sarah and her team applied to hold an “Alpha Course,” an introduction to the Christian faith, at the prison. Despite all doubts about getting approval any time soon, if at all, they were granted permission in just one month. As she prepared for the course, God assured Sarah, “In that place, you will experience a great harvest.” God has held true to His word.
Sarah and her team were given two hours with the women for each course session. The visits consisted of fun time, worship, presentation of the Alpha materials, and small group prayer time. Interest in the course grew gradually as women came to Christ and began witnessing to the prison officers.
As a result of the visible changes in the women, the prison commissioner invited Sarah’s team to hold two meetings at Easter. Sarah agreed and prayed, “Lord, I want half the people who come to believe.” Thirty-five first-time decisions for Christ were made, more than half of the women who attended.
While the harvest is great, challenges still lie ahead. When these women leave prison, they will meet their old friends, most of whom are entrenched in gambling and drugs. The women will come face-to-face with the shackles that once held them and they will be challenged to deny spiritual captivity and choose the freedom that is theirs in Christ. Sarah recognizes the danger so she is leading a weekly small group for the newly released women at the Bible college where she works to help them transition into true freedom.
Gwen Sellers spent the summer of 2006 working as an editorial intern in the Communications Department at Navigators Headquarters. She plans to move back home to Colorado Springs after graduating from Whitworth University in 2007.