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Philadelphia Women’s prison – Imprisoned For A Purpose
Imprisoned For A Purpose by Linda Beckman
After being arrested on October 10, 2004, along with my husband and 9 other Christians for ministry at a homosexual “OutFest” event, the Lord gave me a real prison ministry.
I was detained after being held for 21 hours in a holding cell, and then ordered by a judge to serve a 5-7 day prison sentence, which ended up being 10 days in the Philadelphia Women’s prison. The detainment was the result of an arrest back in 1995 for a rescue at Planned Parenthood in Philadelphia. Rescues were done in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and was an act of sitting in front of the doors of an abortion clinic so the mothers couldn’t enter to kill their babies. We would stay until the police would arrest us, or until we knew the clinic would be for shut down for the day.
I had forgotten the details of that event in 1995 and didn’t realize that I hadn’t paid the fine we were given in court. Back in the days of rescue, we didn’t pay fines, but would do jail time.
My jail time began with a great event. I was taken up to prison with a 19 year-old girl who was arrested on a drug charge. We had lots of time to talk due to the slow process of admittance to the facility. I had about 6 hours to talk and tell her about the Lord. She prayed with me before both lunch and dinner, and at one point, broke down and cried, telling me she didn’t want to continue her life as it was. She said she wanted to change. I explained the Gospel to her and asked her if she would like to give her heart to Christ. I told her if she made the commitment she would have to give her life to God and obey Him. She said that she wanted to and prayed with me. Sometime later, she said, “Look at me; I’m not crying anymore.” I told her she was glowing.
Everyone asked me why I was there, as I am 67 years old, and most of the women there were young. I believe my countenance was different than most. The 26 years of walking with the Lord gave me peace and contentment in my situation. Now don’t get me wrong. There were times when I was looking forward to getting out and even had some fear, but with the Scriptures which I had memorized, I was able to put the fear behind me.
I was kept in isolation 22 hours each day for the first 4 ½ days and shared a cell with another women. I spent half of this time with Needa, a woman who professed to be a Christian. She was there due to a family feud in which the police were called. I spent this time teaching her hymns and giving her Biblical counseling. Next, the Lord put Bernadette, a prostitute, in my cell. She was imprisoned on what she said were false charges for breaking into her mother’s home. Her life story was heartbreaking, and I was able to minister to her in many ways.
After 2 days with her, my name was called and I thought I was being released. So, I gave Bernadette the comb I was given at admission, but to my surprise, I was not released. I was taken to another block out of isolation. I had to trust the Lord with more things now; not even a comb to make myself look somewhat presentable. I now had to use my plastic spoon which had 3 tiny tines on the end, for my comb. After combing my hair, I would wash my spoon.
I must say, when I got up to my block, I felt some fear. It was a very large room with 64 cells (2 to a cell) and 2 guards for all these women. I knew I was in a women’s prison, but as I looked around, I saw many prisoners who looked like men. Homosexuality is rampant in the prison. I quoted the Scripture II Timothy 1:7 to myself, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” The fear left me. I was put in a cell with 5 other women. This was a cell facing the guards, and was all glass in the front, so the guards could watch the new arrivals. I got a bottom bunk which some of the prisoners insisted I have (God’s provision), and I was set for whatever else the Lord had in store for me. I went out and sat at a table, and a few women came up to ask me why I was there. After hearing my story, one woman started crying and told me of her abortion and the grief she experienced from it. Others started to gather around, and within 5 minutes, I had a nice little crowd asking me questions. Many of them had abortions, and I didn’t hear one of them say that they were glad they did.
Out of the 5 people I was with in my cell, 3 were lesbians. Oh, how my heart grieved! I called out to God and said, “I know you created them to be women, but they act like animals.” The language and actions were more than I could bear. It was much, much worse than when I was imprisoned in the early 90’s for doing rescue work.
At one point, 2 girls in my cell had a Bible and were reading out loud and mocking. I would interject when they would say they didn’t understand it. The girl above me leaned down and said, “You know so much, how do you know it?” I explained that I had been a Christian for 26 years and read the Bible all that time. I told them that the Bible said fornicators wouldn’t get into heaven. I explained that fornication was sex before marriage. One lesbian said, “Oh, I guess I’m in trouble.” I told her she was, to which she replied, “Oh, I don’t believe all the Bible!” However, she ordered a Bible from the chaplain and said that she would read it.
Two nights of no sleep due to the noise from the women in my cell and their vulgar language had me call out to God to bind the spirits of lesbianism and vulgar language. After I came back from a court hearing, I knew that I still had a few more days to spend in jail. One of the women in my cell said that day, “Now tonight we’re going to be quiet and let mom (me) sleep… And another thing, we’re going to stop this foul language.” When one would slip, another would say, “Watch your mouth.” God is so faithful!
The day after court, Damary, who was in my top bunk, came to me crying and told me she wanted to change; that she didn’t like what she had become. I explained the Gospel to her, and she prayed with me to receive Christ. Shortly after this, I was told I was being released. Many women came and hugged me and one told me, “You don’t know how many lives you’ve touched in here.”
I was glad to leave, but Oh, what a time of ministry! It is such a blessing to trust and be in the hands of the Lord.