Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Coming around

In my previous post, I mentioned that there was a wide response to the gospel when Dave presented it to some inmates last week. "Greg" was a guy who emphatically rejected the offer of salvation through Christ. Rather than being discouraged, Dave expressed faith, telling me: "Be assured that he can run but not hide from the love that God has for him!"

Last night, Greg approached Dave and was much more talkative and in general open to what was being said from the Word about repentance, salvation, etc. Dave told me, "I sense that the Lord is drawing Greg closer, and it will be but time before God gets through to him."

Please pray that the Holy Spirit will open Greg's heart. Pray also for Fred and Efrain--two others that Dave talked to last night--that they will be softened toward Jesus.

Friday, December 16, 2005

History Maker

Dave visited with a number of guys a few nights ago. Many times the guys just want to talk and pray. (Dave calls it "TnP.")

The range of response that night went from outright rejection of the offer of salvation to mild interest to excitement about and acceptance of the gospel. One Christian guy, Chauncey, asked for prayer for his son who has cancer. Please pray for him. We have certainly seen God answer prayer for healing. Two men prayed to receive Christ that night. One of them was a guy named Pat.

After Pat had prayed to receive the Lord, Dave reviewed with him how he could be assured of his salvation (1 John 5:11,12 and John 20:31). Pat literally burst out and said, "David, do you realize what happened? History was made tonight. I got saved, and I'm right with God! Write this down on my ticket!" (The 'ticket' is the 3x5 card Dave makes out for each inmate with whom he makes contact.)

Pat was excited to have his name written on an index card. Praise God that Pat's name is also written in the Lamb's Book of Life (Rev. 21:27).

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Daughter's back healed

On November 28, Dave was in Monroe County Correctional Facility (MCCF). As is his practice, Dave sat at a table with Bible literature and waited for interested inmates to approach him.

James understood the gospel message, but decided to wait to make a decision because "I have a lot of time to make up my mind about following the Lord."

Andy also rejected the offer of salvation, saying similarly that he had plenty of time to make up his mind about these kind of things. "I don't want to get committed to anything spiritual now."

Then there was Mike. His heart had been prepared by the Lord. He received the good news with gladness and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He not only was open to the Lord but expressed needs for his son, and his daughter who was having some real back problems. At that time Dave and Mike prayed and asked the Lord for her healing.

A week later, Dave was at the table again. (This was the same day that Phil got saved.) Mike excitedly informed Dave that his daughter's back was healed!

I'm reminded of the time Jesus was walking with His disciples in Luke 9:57-62. Jesus invited one man to follow Him, but the man said he had to go and bury his father first. A second man received an invitation to discipleship from the Lord, but he said he had to go say good-by to his family first. To these seemingly "good excuses," Jesus said, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God"(v. 62). Praise God that Mike put his hand to the plow, didn't look back and received not only salvation, but healing for his daughter.

"Lord, let Your Kingdom come! Let the good news be proclaimed in the jails, in homes, on the streets and in churches in Rochester."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Set-up

Phil was a guy I met over a year ago in the downtown jail. He would come to Bible studies pretty regularly and always participated in the discussions. At the time, I encouraged him--as I do all the inmates about to get out of jail--to get involved in a church and really get connected. He assured me that he would. He said he knew what he had to do.

Many guys have good intentions, but when they get out of jail, the pull toward the old life is often very strong.

Several months later, I attended a Good News Jail & Prison Ministry prayer breakfast. Trev, a former inmate, and I went to the breakfast together. As I was driving Trev home from the prayer breakfast, I saw a man walking down the sidewalk on the other side of the street. "Trev, that looks like Phil, a guy who used to come to my Bible studies." We did a U-turn right there and pulled up next to the man. Sure enough, it was Phil.

"Hey, man, how's it goin'?" I asked him.

Phil looked back at me with bloodshot eyes and an expression that spoke of guilt and shame. "Oh, hi. How are you doin'?" he responded.

"Doing pretty good, Phil. We just got back from a jail ministry breakfast. What are you up to?"

"Oh, just hanging out," he replied.

I could see that Phil was not in a mood for a long conversation. "Phil, I just want you to know that you're always welcome to come to our church." I handed him a business card and encouraged him to come the following Sunday. He thanked me for the offer, and we drove off. I never saw him again.

Last week, my friend Dave was visiting the correctional facility. A man sat down at the table where Dave was and began to listen very attentively as he talked about the Lord. He heard and understood the message of salvation, and made a commitment to follow Jesus Christ. The man Dave led to the Lord was Phil! He was "set-up" by God for salvation. Pray that Phil will get grounded in his new-found faith.

I was so encouraged when Dave told me about Phil. This kind of thing has happened a few times in the past. I'll meet someone in the downtown jail and plant a seed. Then Dave will meet the same guy in the correctional facility in the suburbs and lead him to Christ.

It was a good reminder to me to not get discouraged if I don't see the fruit of my labors. Perhaps you and I are #4 or #5 out of 17 people who witness to someone, but only the 17th person leads him to Christ. Our role is just as important as #17's role. As Jesus said, "One sows and another reaps" (John 4:37). Let us rejoice in however the Lord chooses to use us.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


I was doing a Bible study with three guys on Friday. We got on some Holy Spirit rabbit trails and ended up discussing James 5:16: "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

"Joe" said, "I need to do that right now." He shared that he had been holding on to resentment against "Mark," another inmate sitting at the table with us. "I felt like you were looking down on me last week because I wasn't understanding the Scripture passage. I'm new at this and it seemed like you were judging me."

I was really impressed by how graciously Joe confronted Mark on this issue. I was also impressed by Mark's encouraging response. Ricky, the third guy, said, "This is really new for us; we haven't been taught to handle conflicts this way."

Today, in church, I spoke about resolving conflicts with brothers and sisters in the body. Before we took communion, an elder encouraged all of us to approach two or three people and ask, "Have I offended you in any way?" It was a blessing to see people paired off dealing with stuff and praying with each other.

"Lord, I pray that this wouldn't be a one-time thing, but that we would take seriously Your command, 'If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone' (Romans 12:19). Let reconciliation happen in jails, churches, schools, offices and homes.