Returning to Prison

Over the Christmas holidays, I had the joy of spending the day with the women at the Newport Prison. Last year, I shared with you about my day there, and am revisiting that post today. Please join me in praying for Chaplain Jennifer Smith as she faithfully serves the more than 1,000 inmates. More than 100 inmates came to Christ this year, join me in asking God to continue moving there. May revival break out!

(From the Archives) ~

One-by-one in single file, they came through the heavy doors and lined up against the cold cement-block wall of the aging gymnasium. The guard was barking orders and instructions so loudly that her voice was distorted by the acoustics. I couldn’t understand a word she was saying and I watched the inmates wondering if they could comprehend her instructions at all. She appeared angry and disgusted by these women. Her voice kept booming out indecipherable commands and most of the women’s postures reminded me of how my little dog, Happy, looked when I found her cowering on my porch.

The women’s faces were frozen in place with a deadness that comes from years of bondage and abuse.

It was the week before Christmas, and I’d been invited to spend the day with the inmates. It was their “Christmas Party” from the chaplaincy program. Each inmate was given a new t-shirt, socks, and a bag filled with goodies. Revive Our Hearts sent a little booklet of Scripture promises to be included in their bags. I made a little 5×7 card sharing the gospel and describing their “true identity” that was tucked inside a copy of John’s gospel.

Light, truth, and hope, all nestled into their bags of chocolates and candy.

After the girls received their instructions from the guards, a couple of our friends began softly playing Christmas carols on the keyboard and violin. Their instrumental worship completely changed the atmosphere. The women’s faces began to soften and light up. They were allowed to take a seat and listen while they waited to receive their “gifts.” I was invited to speak briefly, only ten minutes to share a word of truth and hope with these broken souls.

As I looked into their eyes, I asked the Spirit to communicate to them how valuable they are to God. I asked Him to open their eyes to the beauty of Jesus and the wonder of the cross. While I spoke, I glanced to the back of the room where I could see my friend, Jennifer standing.

Jennifer had once been in these same lines, once held the same dead stare, once been equally empty—believing she was worthless and unwanted—until the Life-Changer awakened her! 

Tomorrow, I’ll share more with you about our visit at the prison, but today I want to challenge you to consider the Life-Changer. Have you experienced the life change that happens when you open your heart to Jesus?

Do you have a personal relationship with God? 

That one question causes a strong reaction no matter where a person is spiritually. If you are a regular here on the blog and part of this little cyber community, you probably do have a relationship with Christ. I pray you know Him and are growing up “in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:15).

I hope you have a vibrant relationship with Christ and are passionate about sharing Him with others. 

If you aren’t sure where you are spiritually, please check out this blog post (click here). Also, I hope you’ll read or listen to Jennifer’s story as she shares how she came to know Christ (click here).

If someone has come to mind as you’ve been reading today’s post, someone who is spiritually dead, who doesn’t know the Life-Changer, I hope you’ll pass this post on to them, or share with them Jennifer’s story.

Let’s dedicate this year to sharing the Life-Changer, Jesus Christ, with everyone we know!

Image courtesy of arcadante/


  • Julie Musil

    Wow, what a ministry! That’s amazing, Kimberly.

    I’m so happy to say I do have a wonderful relationship with God. Although 2015 has been quite a challenging year, the end results were amazing in that my struggles brought me closer to Him.

    I truly appreciate the work you do here on the blog, as well as at conferences, prison, and through the written word of your book. You’re being used in amazing ways.

  • Ingrid

    Thank you for that beautiful and moving post. It made me cry for God’s grace in my life and sob for those I loved who made different choices. Always reminded that by the grace of God go I. We are all broken, some more than others. I pray every day that I can remember to give grace in the same way I have received it. Amen and thank you!

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Thank you, Julie, for your precious encouragement. I pray this year brings you even more moments of walking closely with Him–not because of painful challenges, but just from you abiding in His Word and His presence (John 15).

    “Happy are those who hear the joyful call to worship, for they will walk in the light of your presence, LORD” (Ps. 89:15)

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello, Ingrid ~

    Thank you for your kind words and encouragement! You expressed a precious and Christ-like perspective in your reaction to the women at Newport Prison.

    May you enjoy many moments of Christ-filled worship and spiritual growth in His Word in 2016!