Tuesday, January 31, 2006

"I want to start giving back"

Yesterday afternoon, I got a call from Chaplain Paul at Monroe County Jail (MCJ). Paul is a chaplain with Good News Jail & Prison Ministry. He relayed a message to me from a man named "Robert." In Robert’s own words: “Chaplain, as a Christian, I’m tired of repeating the cycle of incarceration. I want to serve God. I want to start giving back what He’s so freely given to me.”

Robert wants to start fellowshipping with us at Rochester Vineyard Christian Church when he gets out in a couple of weeks. Paul says that Robert wants to meet with me so he can start getting connected. I’ll be going to see him in MCJ this week—Thursday, Lord willing. Pray for God’s protection on Robert as he prepares to get out of jail. The devil likes to work overtime with men who are about to be released—especially when those men want to serve the Lord. Pray that Robert and I can be of mutual encouragement to one another. Pray that he truly can break the cycle of incarceration.

I was just praying that morning about what specific harvest field in the city the Lord wanted us to be involved in. The jail has been so fruitful, I wondered if the jail was going to be the largest harvest field for the church I pastor? I don't know. But I especially love seeing God's redemption in the lives of those whom society sometimes sees as a lost cause.

I often think to myself, Except for God's grace, I might be wearing one of those orange jail suits, too. I'm grateful that He's redeemed me. He saved me from ruining my life. He gave me another chance. He stopped me before my foolish and sinful behavior as a teen led me to criminal activity. That's what keeps me going. Just replace the word "incarceration" in Robert's quote above with the word "pornography" or "lust" and you have my story.

What's your story?


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