I had a horrible experience when I ministered in jail in August. As I was sharing the Word with the women, several, who were in the back of the room were quite noisy and disrespectful. I’ve been doing prison ministry since 2003, and I can usually deal with it when some of the women become loud or disrespectful, and it doesn’t usually fluster me, but this time was different.
I had to stop several times and ask them to be quiet, as they mocked me while I ministered. Then they began asking questions. Questions don’t upset me either, when someone is seeking answers, and if I don’t have the answer, I let them know that up front, and I try to get the answers to their questions when I minister in jail the next time. But again, this was different. You see, there was one woman, the ring leader, who was questioning me, not because she wanted answers, but because she wanted to argue.
She informed me that her grandmother was a pastor, and that she had never heard of the things that I was teaching. Then she would shoot me another question, only to disagree with the answer. Honestly, if I had said the grass was green, she would have argued with that, and I saw this, so I told her that I didn’t want to argue with her. Then I prayed against any spirits that would hinder the word of the Lord from going forth.
That’s when this woman got up and went to the door, demanding to leave. I was more than happy to oblige and call for an officer to take her and her following out. After they left, the atmosphere changed, and the women who were left in the room (only 7 remained) worshiped freely, asking me if I would return. I assured them that I would be back, Lord willing, in 2 weeks to minister.
And I was there again, 2 weeks later, to minister. Before allowing me to go in and minister, an officer informed me that several of the inmates, (those who had left the service early 2 weeks prior) had filed a grievance against me. I was stunned. I’d never experienced that before, and so I was asked to give a written statement of what had happened in that church service, which I did.
After completing my statement, I went to the room where the church service is normally held, and within a few minutes, the women were led to the door. When they saw that I was the one ministering that day, all of the women decided to return to their cells and not attend church. Wow. I was hurt and confused, because even those women who had remained in the church service the last time, the ones who asked me to please return, turned around and left. But then, 3 of the women decided to stay for the church service.
When I saw who had decided to stay for church, my heart dropped, and I felt an uneasiness in the pit of my stomach. It was the ringleader, and 2 of her cohorts. I started praying, and determined to share the word, but I was nervous and very uneasy. The relentless questions began almost immediately, from Ringleader, and you could see that her friends were becoming very uncomfortable, as she began to speak doctrines and things that are not in scripture.
One of her friends tried to tell her that what she was speaking was untrue, but she gave her a look that cowed her into silence. The other friend was a “yes” person, but you could see that she was uncomfortable too. I tried to share what the bible said about the things she was claiming, but she had control of the service, and that’s when it hit me.
This was no longer a worship service for the glory of God. It was a one woman show, that she was running. These 2 friends of hers were being indoctrinated with her rebellion and her false statements, and I couldn’t talk over her. Indeed, I didn’t want to talk over her. I came to minister, and she wouldn’t let me minister. So, I very calmly said, “I came here to minister today, and I’m not going to argue with you.”
“See?” she said gleefully. “I told you, she don’t know nothing.”
With that I walked over to the phone, called for an officer to take these 3 women back to their cells, and I left after being there for only 20 minutes. In all the years that I’ve been doing prison ministry, this was the first time that I didn’t complete a service, and I was devastated.
I immediately began questioning myself and the Lord. “Lord, are You trying to tell me that my season for prison ministry is over?” And, “Oh God, how should I have handled that?” Then, “Lord, what did I do wrong?” There’s only one thing that I did wrong, which may have prevented this whole thing… I didn’t pray enough.
But the Lord also let me know that I did the right thing by refusing to argue, and that it would have been pointless for me to try to share the scriptures with this woman, and He spoke these words into my spirit, “Don’t give what is holy to unholy people. Don’t give pearls to swine! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.”
Brothers and sisters, there is a difference between someone sincerely seeking answers to questions about the Lord and His word, and someone who merely wants to argue. Discern that difference in people, and if you can’t discern, ask the Lord to give you discernment and wisdom. “Don’t give what is holy to unholy people. Don’t give pearls to swine! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.”