In the city of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, God answered a Wesleyan church’s seemingly impossible prayer.
At a November prayer meeting at Norwood Wesleyan Church (NWC), Beth*, a woman from the congregation, asked for prayer for Joy*, her mentee. Beth had been sharing the gospel with Joy for several months before Joy – then enrolled in an in-house addictions program – said “yes” to God’s invitation.
A few hours before the prayer meeting gathered, Joy told Beth that she wanted to be “free” in Jesus, starting that pursuit of freedom by making restitution for the wrongs of her past. Joy shared her plans to go to the police station and turn herself in for some outstanding warrants for her arrest, even though this confession would likely cause her to be imprisoned and force her removal from her residential rehabilitation program.
Still, Joy was insistent that this action is what God was calling her to do to be “free in Christ.”
So, at the prayer meeting at NWC, the group prayed that God would be honored by Joy’s decision to hand herself over to the authorities – and that the Lord would be merciful. Joy and Beth went to the police station, where Joy turned herself in.
The police confirmed that there was a warrant out for her arrest and a $5,000 fine. Police allowed the two women to pray together before taking Joy into custody. They were told that if the $5,000 could be raised, Joy would be released from custody.
Sadly, they could not raise the funds in time. When Joy arrived at her assigned quarters, there were several Scripture verses hanging on the walls. Joy took this as God’s gentle affirmation of her decision to turn herself in.
The next day, a new roommate joined Joy in her cell. When the newcomer shared about her suffering and the “hell” experienced at the jail, Joy took the opportunity to share the gospel. And although the woman made no commitment for Christ, Joy took this as an opportunity to be a “light” in another person’s difficult moment.
The day after receiving this new roommate, the police called Beth, saying that if Joy was allowed to be readmitted to her residential rehabilitation program for house arrest, she could leave custody the following day. “The $5,000 fine, the charges and the warrants would be cancelled,” they added, provided Joy finished her rehabilitation program.
Joy was accepted back into the residential rehabilitation program to fulfill her house arrest and considers herself “free indeed,” both by the hope found in Jesus Christ and in the eyes of the criminal justice system.
Pastor Nick Pybus, who leads NWC, is encouraged at the work God is doing as a result of Beth and Joy’s discipleship relationship.
“The Holy Spirit is alive and well and using God’s people for his glory,” said Pybus. “Let us boldly obey God’s Word and proclaim the gospel for his glory as Joy did in her trying circumstances!”
Beth and the members of Norwood Wesleyan Church are continuing to marvel at God’s way of answering prayer and multiplying the fruits of costly obedience as illustrated in Joy’s story.
*Names have been changed.
Rev. Ethan Linder is the hospitality, college and young adult pastor at College Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana.