On our recent trip to Chicago, I discovered what I call the “Shawshank Effect.” One night, while ministering, we experienced a breakthrough for which Edmee, with tears streaming down her face, said: “This is a ‘shawshank’!!!”
The “Shawshank Effect” comes from the movie The Shawshank Redemption. If you have watched this film already, then you may know where I’m going with this. If not, then I’ll give you a brief breakdown. In the movie, an innocent man named Andy Dufresne is convicted of murder and sentenced to two life terms in prison. While there, he finds favor with the correctional officers, the inmates, and the warden. Though Andy had gotten used to the correctional way of life, he had a different agenda: he wanted to gain his freedom. I don’t want to give away too much, but ultimately at the end of the movie all you can say is “WOW,” because the redemption he gets to experience is nothing less than mind-blowing. The viewer is left pondering at all the events that led to his redemption.
Now, the way the “Shawshank Effect” can play out in our lives is similar to how Joseph’s brothers, in Genesis 42, ended up bowing down to their brother. Years prior, Joseph shared his dream with them insinuating that one day, his brothers would bow down to him. They were not happy at all. They hated Joseph already so hearing this dream fueled them into wanting to get rid of their brother. They ended up selling Joseph into slavery not knowing that it would position him to become Egypt’s Prime Minister. Years later, as a famine settled in the land, the brothers went down to Egypt as it had become the world’s pantry. In their quest for food, they bowed down to Egypt’s prime minister who was Joseph, their brother. Imagine their shock when the cat came out of the bag. Imagine Joseph too! His heart most likely raced when he recognized his brothers were bowing down to him. He was “shawshanked.” God’s plan had come to pass, Joseph’s dream had come to pass.
Another way to experience the “Shawshank Effect” is when you pray for something and find yourself baffled when it comes to pass. Imagine how the Israelites felt when they saw God split the Red Sea. They were asking for an escape while only contemplating their capture, just to see the Father give them what they asked for in a mind-blowing way. They were “shawshanked.” There is something special about praying for what you want and to your surprise receiving it. It is nothing less than a jaw dropper. It’s not so much that you received what you asked for, but it’s the fact that God listened! For me, that’s a big deal!
With all the seemingly unanswered prayers in a person’s life, they may start to feel like God does not hear them, or worse, that He doesn’t exist. That is a lie. When you ask God and receive from Him, depending on the situation, you usually get “shawshanked”. It seems now that so many people do not believe in prayer anymore. It is as if people pray all the while doubting what they are praying for as they succumb to the temptation of allowing negative experiences to affect their confidence in God.
If you have read my blog, “The Power of Prayer,” then you would know now why some of our prayers don’t come to pass. If not, you should read it. For those who have read it or already understand why this happens, then you would agree with me that unbelief hinders prayers. Also, when we pray out of selfish ambition, we are more likely to be hindered. Having our faith in Jesus will give us confidence in believing and knowing that what we have asked for will be granted unto us. Prayer without iniquity or selfish ambition will allow you to pray in respect to God’s will and His ways. Once we have these two things down, not one prayer will go unanswered. Nonetheless, God always hears all of our prayers.
As for people who understand prayer, and totally trust in the Father, the “Shawshank Effect” still happens on occasion. I say “on occasion” because once we believe in God, His blessings become less of a surprise to us. At that point, we KNOW that He will grant what we have asked for. But even we can get a bit farfetched in our prayers at times, so when God answers those most peculiar prayers, He gets an opportunity to amaze and surprise us. He gets to “shawshank” us.
So let’s go back to the example in Chicago. While driving through West Englewood, we saw a herd of police and found out a shootout was about to take over the neighborhood due to the altercation that caused the cops to come in the first place. Edmee mentioned in the midst of the situation that it would be a blessing to meet the men that were planning to shoot up the neighborhood. We ended up meeting those men and ultimately stopped a shootout. Of course, there is so much more context to the story, but you’ll have to wait for our newsletter. As for now, I will just reveal certain points.
When Edmee stated that meeting the head shooters of the altercation in Englewood would be a blessing, it was a simple prayer from the heart that she happened to speak out loud, and we both wanted the same thing. There have been so many times that we went on ministry trips and prayed, but did not see the result immediately or even at all. We always had faith that God would do what we asked. This has been our heart in our ministry from the beginning, and there have been no limits to what we would pray for.
Ministry that night seemed to be going slow, we did not know the neighborhood as usual, and we were waiting for God to show us our next move. We happened to run into the men while walking down the street. As usually expected, they called us over because we are women, and they were on the prowl. To their surprise, we were praying women and only had one intention. In the end, these men went home, and many lives were saved that night. We found this out through a preacher they introduced us to who revealed to us who they were and what the Lord had done. For us, this moment was such a surprise, and it brought both of us to tears. We were amazed at the way Father God honored our wish. We were “shawshanked.” The Lord “dropped the mic,” as Edmee would say. This moment confirmed to us even the more how the Lord provides and never misses a beat. This was a total blessing from God.
What happened for us can and will happen to you. It is inevitable that God will “shawshank” you. He is God. He rains on the just and the unjust. Personally, I believe God gets so hype especially when he blesses non-believers. I believe He does it just to make it clear who He is. God.
I want to thank God because He has shown me who He is. Lord, it is an honor to know you as my King. Amen -Bevelyn
Now Joseph was the ruler over the land; he was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. When Joseph saw his brothers he recognized them, but he disguised himself to them and spoke to them harshly. And he said to them, “Where have you come from?” And they said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.” But Joseph had recognized his brothers, although they did not recognize him. Genesis 43:6-8
And He was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows—how, he himself does not know. Mark 4:26-27