That same woman has a pretty troubled past; she’s an addict, has been a victim of sexual abuse, has been a prostitute, and is in jail for a violent crime. She is estranged from her family and had nowhere to turn but to the church.
I received a letter through the jail ministry, not knowing who she was. He face instantly appeared in my mind when I read it but I was very unsure it was her. There are many women that attend the Wed night class and they rotate out, this woman could have been anyone. None of the volunteers had heard of her and all were skeptical, for good reason. She was asking for money.
This past week, the leaders at the jail showed me the sign-in sheet and sure enough, it was the woman who’s face had appeared in my mind when I read the letter. I told the minisry leaders I would meet with her Friday when I saw the other two I had already planned on visiting.
I decided when I went in that I wasn’t going to give her any money. One of the first thing she did when she came in was ask for it.
In the hallway that previous Wed, I asked the leaders what jail inmates needed money for. The canteen has candy right, I asked, it’s no big deal. They exchanged glances and one said, “It’s a big deal to them.” The other said. “Soap.”
I hate being new at things but I like finding out how not to be an idiot more.
Still, I also didn’t want to be suckered into anything, manipulated, or used by these expert liars. That said, I too am an expert liar. And I’m most effective with myself.
In hindsight, I wouldn’t have told her I was going to give her the money, I woud have just done it after we prayed for it. But I couldn’t sit there and refuse her. I told her I would give her some. She asked how much, I named it and she wept and began to pray.
It occured to me that this could be a show for my benefit, that she does this a lot, this is her MO. It didn’t look like it but I’m as green as they come at this. I have a peace it was right.
The leaders that told me the canteen sold soap warned me not to give her any money. I knew the man who had emailed me the letter had planned on it, if I didn’t. I am glad that I got to.
The Scripture that comes to mind is the story of when Jesus visits the tax collector and tells him a story of the two men with debt. Even if deceiving me was one of the many sins this woman has in her life, it could be that she is earnestly seeking God and is acutely aware of her debt to Him. She was vowing to follow now that He had met her need, that I’m not sure will stick, but I feel like I am standing on the edge of a cliff with her.
The responsibility of this in daunting. My quiet time with Jesus today, the passage was 2 Samuel 11, when David takes out Uriah for his wife. The line that popped out to me was when Joab was talking. He’s telling the messenger that is going to David, “then, if the king’s anger rises and he says to you, ‘Why did you go so hear to the wall…. then you shall say, ‘your servant Uriah is also dead.'”
It struck me how because David was a king, he had so far to fall, and how many people he took down with him. He entered into adultery with Bathsheeba, killed Uriah, but not only that, he involved Joab as (given a willing) accomplice, exemplified poor leadership, and allowed weak area of one of his strongest warriors to get much worse. Joab winds up going off the deep end but here I can see how David was playing off that, encouraging it. If a man who wrote the Psalms can go that off the rails, I shudder to think of how bad I can blow it.
God is bigger than all that and He has led me here. I go forward with extreme caution and somehow, miraculously, great joy.