“God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.” (Psalm 46:5)
“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10)
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It is that time of year again: Fall stories! Wholehearted Woman Ministries’ mission is helping women be fully surrendered to the lordship of Jesus Christ and courageously on-mission for Him – one heart at a time. One of the ways we do that is by sharing real-life stories of Christian women both past and present who have decided to follow Jesus wholeheartedly in this way. No matter what season of life you are in, God is calling you to a place of deep and wholehearted relationship with Him. We pray that each story told over the next few months is used by God to fashion your individual heart, to know and experience Him even more deeply, and to joyfully do His will to His glory! “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.” (Psalm 107:2) Read on!
Hannah leads the God Behind Bars team that ministers to women at Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Center in Taft, Oklahoma. Our paths crossed (not by accident!) at Church on the Move in Tulsa, Oklahoma, through a letter-writing outreach in 2020 when visits were not permitted during the height of Covid cases at Eddie Warrior. Hannah and her team gathered people together that day to reach those ladies with the transformative love of Christ through hand-written cards and notes. God has given her a deep love for her incarcerated sisters in Christ, her church community, and for Him!
We are thrilled that Hannah has allowed us to share some of her story (previously shared in 2021) about her ministry experiences and this calling to which the Lord has led her. May God use it to birth something afresh as you, too, follow Jesus Christ wholeheartedly and boldly wherever He may lead you! This is Hannah’s story…
Will you tell us about your journey and calling for the women at Eddie Warrior Correctional Center? How have you experienced God then and now?
I will never forget when my pastor, Pastor Whit, announced that our church was going to have a campus in a women’s prison. My heart started beating so fast. For a moment I remember thinking, What in the world…? But I know what my heart beating fast means. There have been a few other times in my life when the Holy Spirit either wants me to speak up, pray or move a certain direction, and my heart starts racing. It does not feel like anxiety. It feels like passion! I said Okay, God. I am so grateful for His communication through my heart.
After 12 years of serving at Church on the Move in so many wonderful areas such as hosting, serving in the auditorium before service, Saturday outreach days, a mentor’s group of leaders, and leading small groups, I filled out the application on the God Behind Bars website that very afternoon. I eventually completed all the requirements, and the next thing I knew, I had a badge around my neck and was walking into Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Center. I never had any hesitation that this was supposed to be happening. It is one of those steps in my relationship with Jesus where his go was clear, and my yes was final. I had high expectations of what He would do for the ladies of this church campus.
Within a week I was asked to take a position as a leader. I prayed about it and felt complete peace knowing that God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called. I said “I trust you will guide me and use me in a way that glorifies you. Let’s do it.” I have a deep passion and desire in my heart to tell people that do not know Jesus how real He is and how free they can be by knowing Him intimately. I knew I was about to have the opportunity to interact with some of the most broken and hurting women in our state of Oklahoma. There was a fire in me for them I could not wait to allow God to use.
Each week I tell myself and the team that we are here to serve and love without our own agenda. We are walking out God’s plan, His agenda. There is no pressure involved in this ministry opportunity. This is ALL on Him. I ask them to be themselves, with an open heart, open hands, and an open mind. To listen more and speak less. These women need to be heard first, then encouraged. Let the Holy Spirit be our guide in every interaction.
Very quickly I saw them begin to come down those stairs into the gym with smiles on their faces and hope in their eyes. We were building a foundation with them, hundreds of them. Showing them a little more each week that we are authentic. We are for you. We are here to serve you, to care and to show you what Jesus looks like in the life of a woman of God.
The women began to worship so loud; you could hardly hear the blaring speakers that echoed throughout the gym over them. They would shout and holler, “Amen!” Hands began to raise, and the tears began to fall. God was moving. Our team stood in the back wrapping around them, praying for them, worshiping with them, and we, too, were brought to tears watching God shower them with His mighty presence and unfailing love.
I had no idea that what I said yes to would bless my life so deeply and change me forever. THIS was ministry, THIS is our God, and I get to be a part of His workmanship. It made me want more. There is so much more for us. The Kingdom is here on earth in us through the Holy Spirit. If we can get still enough and listen well, we will never stop experiencing more. That is what I want to continue to teach these ladies.
We have experienced miracles of many kinds in Dr. Eddie Warrior. We have had over 100 salvations this year since pandemic-related visiting restrictions have been lifted. God is moving! Miracle healings for the ladies have happened such as back pain healed, ongoing Covid 19 symptoms healed, broken and hopeless hearts healed, freedom from addiction (losing the desire!), freedom from sexual perversion and much more.
Also, family healings have happened as we have prayed for them. The family of one of the ladies was in a severe car accident. Her sister flat lined in the ICU, but they were able to bring her back and stabilize her but eventually her mother was asked to make the most difficult decision of her life. The doctor said we have done all that we can. The next day they took her off the machine, and she did not expire. She began to breathe on her own and eventually walked out of that hospital! This happened the same week that the inmate asked Jesus into her heart! Other family members have been healed from cancer. The father of one of the ladies had a heart attack and was given a 5% chance to survive. He walked out of the hospital.
We are standing on Holy Ground when we step onto the campus of Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Center.
After each service, I get 7-10 minutes to make the message they watch personal. To share with them practical life application partnering with the Word of God, and God shows up faithfully every week! Luke 12:12 says, “For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said.” The enemy would love to convince me that I’m not qualified, but he has no authority because I already know this. I lean on the Holy Spirit and am fully confident in the Jesus that lives in me to speak to his daughters. We are teaching these ladies that our God – THEIR God – is bigger than everything they face. To trust in Him regardless of what they see with their eyes and experience in their emotions. Our Mighty God will move mountains and if the mountain does not move how they hoped, He is a heart healer and a circumstance redeemer!
I believe that I will never stop seeing the goodness of The Lord….so when my heart races, I will always say, “Yes Father, I will go because you go before me and will never leave me nor forsake me.” What an AMAZING honor and blessing it is to be the hands and feet of Jesus! Hallelujah!
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Check out the link below to hear from one of the women Hannah has mentored and ministered to at Eddie Warrior Correctional Center!
Learn more about God Behind Bars here:
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For more stories like this one, SIGN UP below for our emails, and check out the book The Wholehearted Woman: Who She is and Why She Matters by sisters and co-authors, Jenni Walker and Beth Doohan. With heartfelt messages that will challenge your faith, stories of other Wholehearted Women, and reflection questions to dive deeper, this is a great resource for personal devotion or small group study!