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.


Anonymous Yannick said...

wow! That's pretty awesome that he accepted Jesus. Praise the Lord. He will be in my prayers.

8:06 PM  

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