Before moving to Canada to be with my husband, I was attending a ministry school and working in Birmingham, Alabama. During my three years there, I would hop into a van with a group of ladies from my church and we would drive two hours every Sunday to Tutwiler Women’s Correctional facility to hold a church service for the women there. This was always my favorite day of the week. Nothing got my heart going more than seeing over a hundred inmates with their hands and voices raised high just praising our Lord in this small little chapel that was on the property of the facility.
Though I loved being with the inmates, I always enjoyed the conversations that I had with the prison ministry team on the ride there and back, especially Kelly, who was our team leader and a spiritual mentor for me. One question that she would always ask each of us was “What is the Lord teaching you this week?” She loved hearing what God was trying to show us.
One thing that the Lord is teaching me right now is the power of our words. They can be a weapon to tear people down or lift them up. While working at Ottawa Innercity Ministries, we meet so many people who have had words spoken over them that have kept them chained mentally - words that haunt and keep many from moving forward.
When we are out serving those who are in great need, it can be easy to want to be the hero. However, we must remember to walk in humility. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and told him to come out of his tomb, He then called for the others to remove Lazarus’ grave clothes. Only Jesus can raise the dead. Only Jesus can transform someone’s life. He uses us to help take the grave clothes off. What an honor that is. When we speak life and words of encouragement over people, we are helping take the grave clothes off.
A certain volunteer comes weekly to help me sort through donations. When I first met him, his self-esteem was very low. He was very anxious and spoke poorly about himself. He also showed me a list of his triggers. As we sorted, we talked and I got to hear more of his story. I started seeing how incredibly smart and creative this man is. Before he left, I took a minute to just speak that over to him. He has such an artistic gift and talent. He has an eye for details. By the look that he gave me, I could tell that not many people have spoken such words over him. Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen a change in him. He was so shy, but now I see him going up to volunteers and staff with confidence. He has shared so many great ideas for organizing items and I’m seeing that he has a great sense of humor!
I know that this volunteer will still have times that he will struggle. Life is hard and can really shake our self-esteem and confidence. Let’s keep speaking God’s Truth. Let’s help replace the lies that have been spoken over them and replace them with words of who they really are. Who God says they are.
~Marissa – Donations Coordinator