The widow at Zarephath
So this week I read the story of the widow of Zarephath. Let me summarize it for you; or is it lengthen it for?
This nation has witnessed a famine for 3 years so there is a lot of lack in this land. For this woman, things are even worse, she is a widow. On top of that, she is in her last foodstuff. And infact, this last meal is just for her and her son. “I have nothing but a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am just gathering a couple of sticks, so that I can go home and prepare it for me and my son; we shall eat it and then we shall die.” This woman is in a bad place.
Then in between all this, this guy shows up and he wants her last meal. I know he is a prophet but can you imagine the turmoil she goes through when this guy asks her for her last meal. You see this meal is for her and her son. If you attempt to wear a mother’s shoes then you can imagine how had this is.
Even worse, Elijah had started off with a small request: “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” (1Ki 17:10). As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread” (1Ki 17:11). It quickly became obvious that this was no small request. In fact, Elijah was making a huge, big demand of this widow. He is asking her to make a big sacrifice.
But this woman choses to give. In her mind, she knows she will give then they will all die but she would rather serve this man of God and lack. For me, I find these acts just amazing. Many look at this story as a story of faith and it is as the woman must have believed what Elijah said, “ thus says the Lord, the jar of flour shall not give out and the jug of oil shall not fail until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the ground”. However, for me it is also a story of service. A story of a woman hell bent to serve her Master. She recognized something that we often miss, that she was going to be a co-worker in God’s work. What a privilege!
My FBB story
I would love to tell you how my serving in prison was well thought out…the way I was convicted of the need in prison or of the way like the Widow of Zarephath I was convicted of the privilege to be a co-worker in God’s kingdom but unfortunately mine is as plain a story as it comes, or maybe not.
I never would have thought I would serve in prison – it had never even crossed my mind. In fact, up until Mavuno started doing spread the love initiatives in prisons, I used to pass the gates of prison and not even think about whether there are people behind those walls. I ignored without trying to.
Up until one day in church, they talked about a team that was facilitating mizizi in prison. In this same service, they baptized someone who had just recently been released from prison and who had gone through Mizizi while in prison. See this guy run to the baptism corner (literally) and the excitement on his face after the baptism got me thinking. Wow, you mean it is possible for ordinary people like me to impact someone else’s life as such? And here I was thinking that was the zone for kina the pastors only!
I am amazed
There begun my journey with prisons. And it has been nothing but amazing since. One of the things that still astounds me is the brokenness of the inmates. I guess when you have hit that rock bottom, you have nothing to cover up. You have no reason to pretend your life is perfect. You are real with God and somehow God comes through. I have seen God transform the unexpected; those that you and I will have easily written off.
I am still amazed that God choses to use us to impact the lives of those prisoners.
But more amazing is what serving in this ministry does to me. I think often many think that serving is about helping others, and it is. But there is a way God meets with you as you serve, there is a way He stretches your faith as you serve that truth be told, you are left thinking who was helped more, those you served or yourself.
I look at the story of the widow of Zarephath and I see this even more. This woman thought she was helping the prophet but she gets blessed many times more. For starters she got to make it in the Word of God, am sure she never would have dreamt of this. But even more, because she agreed to be used of God to serve Prophet Elijah, she now has enough food somehow till the day when the famine ends. Had she not agreed to serve, she would have had her last meal and died the following day. After the famine is over her son got sick and died but was brought back to life by Elijah praying to God on her behalf.
These acts that had started with this widow looking like she was being asked to give too much end up being her source of serious blessings.
So this is what I have learnt
We are made for service, and I am glad we are. It really is the greatest privilege ever, to be co-workers in God’s Kingdom.
The other thing I see as I serve in this ministry is what Christ meant when He said, ‘I was in prison and you visited me….’. It is easy to complicate the word of God but actually it is as literal as that, did you look away from the prisons? Let us not forget the ministries Christ specifically talks about, prison…..There is a reason He mentioned these. May be the need is highest here!!
So join us…come hang out with us in these prisons…Starting tomorrow at Lang’ata prison, and then maybe join us in serving in Mizizi or perhaps be part of our spiritual partners. I promise you your life will never be the same.