Let me tell you about, Carole, my "first" precious jail assistant 17 years ago and to this day, still one of my best friends. She has blessed me with her unconditional love, big beautiful smile and joyful laughter. I believe she told me her heritage is a mixture of African American, Indian, Mexican and Caucasian. She literally ran away from her home at 13 years old after much abuse. When Carole's first husband tried to throw her out of a Brooklyn, NY apartment building, she left with her children and lived in a car using Central Park as her living room. She finally got a job in a restaurant and through the grace of God working through other people, they helped feed and clothe her children. She later got a job at the US Post Office, an apartment and her life changed for the better. She met her second husband at the Post Office and Carole began a new wonderful life......later moving to Florida.
How did we meet? God set up a divine appointment 17 years ago in Ocala, Florida. My husband Bob and I went to their home on a church visit one night and it became a turning point in all our lives. With all their heart, Carole, her husband and their children accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord with much, much joy! It didn't end there as they began to serve faithfully with us in evangelism training classes and the jail ministry. During the weekly church evangelism classes, Carole helped me make dinner for all the trainees. She also became my faithful jail co-worker, attending the jail services with me from 7 PM, departing the jail near midnight. In those days before 9/11, we had two services, 1 ½ hours each, back to back, with 50 women inmates at a time, 100+ total each evening.
Carol's testimony reached many hurting women for Jesus Christ during those jail services. Ears and hearts were opened wide as she shared her incredible testimony. She would then turn to me and say to the inmates with great enthusiasm, "Now, listen carefully to Ann: she is going to share with you how you too can change your life!" By that time, every inmate was on the edge of their chair, eagerly ready to hear the Gospel! We made a great team for the Lord! Before I met Carole, she experienced cancer surgery and was given a transfusion which exposed her to Hepatitis C. Eventually as the years went by, ill health made it impossible for Carole to continue in the jail ministry but we have kept in touch to this very day.
God is so good! When we serve the Lord, He brings blessings and people in our lives we never dreamed possible! I thank God for Carole as well all my dear sisters in Christ who have also suffered through great upheavals and trials in their life. They have been a great witness to me through their powerful faith and trust in Jesus. Although they have endured much suffering, I've discovered they become spiritually rich. They develop much godly wisdom, patience, appreciation for every good thing, and most importantly, praise, glorify and honor God.
To be truthful, I don't like or understand the fact Carole or anyone else has to suffer like they do. However, I am reminded of how Carole's unjust suffering was much like Jesus endured. Instead of becoming discouraged and depressed, Carole lives like Jesus did, with great faith, patience and love, looking forward to the day she will one day be in heaven where there is no suffering, sickness, tears or darkness. As God promises, He "will wipe away every tear from their eyes." Revelation 7:17
May the following scriptures be a comfort to you or your loved one who is presently suffering through a trial:
"You greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 1:6-7
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4
Our "momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison." 2 Corinthians 4:17
"We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal" 2 Corinthians 4:18