By Mandy Nevarez
A few weeks ago, I was walking through the tunnel that connects our pretrial facility to the Bob Wiley detention facility, which serves as two of our Tulare County jails. The tunnel, which is very cold and damp, winds around in an arc as you pass through multiple metal security doors. This walk gives me time for reflection, and even preparation, as I move from one facility to another. In that particular moment I felt such a sense of purpose.
There are those who do not understand why I do what I do. I have had people ask me, “Why would you want to minister to inmates, people who have broken the law or harmed other people?” The answer is easy for me. Even though I was never incarcerated myself, I do identify with many of the individuals in our jails in their brokenness, and sin. As a Christian, I believe that I have also sinned and fallen short of God’s goodness and need forgiveness. God offers that forgiveness. Through repentance and the finished work of the cross, He truly sets people free. He has done that in my life, and my hope is that He will reach the men, women, and youth in our county jails, too.
That very same day, I was also ministering in our youth facilities. It was a long, difficult day. I won’t pretend that it is always easy, but it was at the end of my day that I understood that sense of purpose. It was very specific. I found it in the face of a young man who was deeply troubled. He had used many drugs which had damaged his mind and ability to focus. He seemed very oppressed. He told me that he thought he was cursed and was very confused. I spent time listening to him and I asked him if he wanted to know about Jesus. He nodded. I then began to share with him who Jesus was. I asked him if he wanted to give his life to the Lord and to put his trust in Him. He said yes. I led him in a very simple prayer, and God delivered him. His whole face changed, and the dark cloud lifted. His smile was so big. Then he said, “I feel different.”
It was such an evident transformation, and so simple and sweet. I know saying one prayer is not a “fix it all” with this young man, but it was truly remarkable how God just reached down from heaven and touched his soul and mine. It is also the beginning of the journey as he walks with God, allowing Him to continue to change his heart and heal his mind. I was beyond words and had to fight back the tears. God loves broken people. Maybe that is you today: broken, tired, and scared. God is a gentleman, and will not force his way on you. He is beckoning and calling to those who are lost in sin and are hurting. It is as simple as deciding to place your trust in God who has given everything to forgive, heal and deliver the people He created.
Mandy Nevarez is a pastor at New Life Assembly of God. Prays Together is a rotating column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church.
– This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.