As we move into our 7th month under the Covid-19 related restrictions at Chester County Prison: no church services, no Bible studies or other classes, no gatherings of any kind, and extremely limited inmate contact, written communication has become very important. Our faithful volunteers, who of course, are not allowed entrance for the time being, have been writing letters of encouragement and sending in devotional writings, Bible studies, testimonies, puzzles, and coloring pages, as a way of maintaining connection with the women and continuing to minister to them. Our distribution list of women receiving correspondence from our volunteers represents over half the female population of the prison.
We are also receiving more requests for Bibles, devotional books, study books and books on Christian living, as these are now the main source of spiritual input for the residents. One interesting thing we are finding is that, not being able to speak face to face with us chaplains, the men and women are writing and expressing themselves more freely and fully on their request forms. I would like to include a few examples here.
One young woman wrote recently: “Please could you send me a Bible? And if you have any other reference materials that you can send, that would be great. My cellmate asked me about prayer and the Bible. She said she never went to church and doesn’t know if she has ever been saved. I tried to speak to her about it. If you have anything that could help explain God, prayer, or being saved to a new Christian, that would be awesome. I grew up in church, but I’m not the best with words, tho. Anything you can do would be so appreciated.”
Another woman wrote: “I have been a little down lately. Being locked in the cell 22 hours a day everyday weighs on your mental health. Thank you so much for the devotional book you sent me. It really seems to help. I read it everyday, along with Bible study and daily prayer. God is Great! I wish we had church and Bible study or one-on-ones. Hopefully soon. I pray all is well with you and you’re staying safe out there. I will continue to pray for you and ask if you could continue to pray for me also J. ”
Even in things that might seem to be a lesser concern, the women are reaching out. One woman wrote, “Would you mind praying with me for my dog, Alphie? That he knows I’m not abandoning him & that he’s not being neglected without me. I’m so sad. I miss my dog!”
It seems ironic to me that in this time when many of the women seem more open and willing to hear about spiritual things, we are cut off from them and not able to communicate easily with them. But I know that God is still able to make His grace abound to them, even in the middle of a pandemic.