My friend Kelly and I miss our regular church services a couple of times a month to visit some friends at a different church. It’s not what you might picture. There’s no choir or worship team, no musical instruments, no stage, no altar, no pulpit, no pews or cushy chairs hooked together in neat rows.
Instead, a small group of ladies, dressed in cotton scrubs, either orange or black-and-white stripes, sit in hard plastic chairs situated around an old scratched-up table with Bibles opened in front of them. A heavy iron door slams shut behind them as they enter the small room.
They know our names, and we know theirs. We know their stories, and they know ours. We’ve become friends.
We never know quite what we are going to experience during our Sunday morning jail visits. Sometimes they are deeply sad, tearful, angry, cheerful, or just quiet. Other times communication is made nearly impossible by incredibly distracting outbursts by male inmates in the hallway and in solitary confinement.
During a recent Sunday visit, we listened to the usual update on the women who were bonded out, sentenced, and transported. The group of women we met with that day was particularly small – only four – all longtimers who we knew pretty well.
We quickly learned that Amber, one of the ladies who attended our last meeting, had decided to stay in the pod by herself.
“Why didn’t she come today?” I asked.
Melody hesitated. “She’s really struggling with her sexuality,” she said. “She feels like God is telling her it’s wrong to have sex with women. We’ve been studying the Bible every day and haven’t been able to find it. She wanted me to ask y’all if it’s in the Bible.”
We learned in that moment that Jennifer, the oldest in the group, had been leading the ladies through a daily Bible study.
We had been praying and encouraging them to do this, but when we found out they had actually followed through, we were surprised and elated. These four had no biblical knowledge whatsoever. They were starting from ground zero. But, they were starting!
Melody didn’t have time for our excitement or our bubbling barrage of questions.
“Just tell me,” she interrupted. “Is it in there or not?
She hesitated again. “I’m bisexual. And I want the answer too!”
A little on guard, anticipating an argument, I asked, “Well, is she looking for something from the Old or New Testament?”
“She doesn’t care,” said Melody. “Anywhere! Does it say it, yes or no?”
I pointed her to Romans 1. Jennifer quickly turned through the pages of her leather-bound Bible that Kelly had given her months before.
“Is this it?” she asked, as she started reading out loud:
This is why God delivered them over to degrading passions. For even their females exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. The males in the same way also left natural relations with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty of their error.
And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong (26-28, HCSB).
Suddenly, Melody appeared giddy. “I can’t wait to tell Amber!” she said with a big smile.
I halfway expected her to jump up from the table, bang on the door, and call for a guard to let her go back to the pod where Amber was waiting. “You were right, Amber!” I envisioned her saying. “You really did hear from God!”
I could hardly believe it. What simple faith!
In a world of excuses and suppression of truth, these women really wanted to know the truth. They didn’t want to know that Scripture supported their lifestyle so they could continue in guilt-free sin. They were actually excited to know the answer found in Scripture – which did not support their lifestyle.
What if we all had this kind of faith?
Kelly and I walked out of the jail that morning rejoicing. Knowing our friends were beginning to walk in new light made the morning sunshine seem altogether brighter!
We knew that they were beginning to find freedom inside that building full of concrete, steel, and shackles. Their innocence and obedience blessed us, instructed us, and encouraged us.
Jesus said: “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32, NASB).