Friday, April 28, 2006

I hope to be back in jail again soon!

My wife had the baby early this morning! Praise the Lord! Now I can get back into the jail and not have to worry about being out of cell phone range.

"I want to preach in the streets."

Rylie was moved from Monroe County Jail (MCJ) to Monroe County Correctional Facility (MCF) recently. I asked Dave to find him in MCF and continue encouraging him in the Lord.

Dave caught up with Rylie earlier this week. They had a long time of talking and praying together. As a former drug "distribution" person, Rylie now wants to totally preach the gospel to those in the street drug scene.

He'll be released in June and wants to get involved with some street evangelism opportunities that are coming to Rochester in the summer.

"I want to learn as much of the Word as I can, and use it for outreach," Rylie told Dave. Dave said he'd be happy to mentor him in that as much as he could.

Rylie is getting married in jail before his release so as to be as focused on the Lord as he (they) can. (His fiancée is a Christian).

Praise God for Rylie's continued growth in the Lord and desire to reach others for Christ. Pray that he will get grounded in the Word. Pray that he and his wife will center their marriage on Jesus, and that God will use both of them for His glory.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Temporarily out of commission

It's been a while since my last post, I know. My wife is expecting any day—minute?—now and I need to be accessible by phone. They don't let you take cell phones into the jail, so I haven't wanted to go in and risk missing an important phone call! I hope to be back in jail soon!

The last time I was in, I was sitting with three guys who all had stories of escaping death. "Angelo" had been shot at several times by a policeman from a distance of 15 ft., but he wasn't hit at all. "I know God spared me," he said. "Rafael" had been pistol-whipped by a rival gang member, and forced to the ground with a gun to the back of his head. He then heard four shots from the gun. "I don't know how I...actually, I do know how I escaped," he said. "God was protecting me."

All three guys have nominal Catholic backgrounds. Pray that their eyes would be opened and that they would all turn to Jesus.

Friday, April 21, 2006

In the "Neck" of time

Dave met a man named Chris who was interested in talking about God. Dave presented the gospel to Chris, and he prayed to give his life to the Lord.

Then Dave asked his standard question: "Do you have any other prayer requests?" "There's something wrong with my neck," Chris said. "It's been bothering me for a while and the doctors don't know what the problem is." Dave prayed for Chris' neck.

Three weeks later, Dave ran into Chris again. Chris told Dave, "A week after you prayed, my neck was healed!" He showed Dave how he could move his neck freely with no pain.

Praise God for Chris' salvation and healing.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Last Wednesday Night

My friend Dave was ministering in Monroe County Correctional Facility last week Wednesday.

There was a guy named "Ken" who was interested in receiving the Lord. He wanted his sins made clean, but confessed that he was powerless to stop his former lifestyle. This inmate was adamant about continuing to be a drug dealer upon his release (and his release is in less than a month). Pray that the Lord will turn him around.

The Lord healed "Chris'" neck. They had prayed for his healing the previous week. Praise God for that.

"Joe" rededicated His life to the Lord. Pray that he will continue on in the path of righteousness.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Saved and Going to Heaven

This is a continuation of my previous post.

I met up with Rylie again today. (I had asked you all last week to pray for him that God would open his eyes and lead him to repentance.) He told me that he had gone to a church service held in the jail just last night. A pastor from a local church had come in.

"When I first went into the room where the service was held," Rylie said, "I could feel something inside me telling me to get out and not to listen to the pastor. But I stayed in there and felt at peace after a while. My eyes were really opened by what he had to say. He was talking about how the devil makes sin looks good, but it only leads to destruction. I want to be a preacher now. I want to help people find the Lord."

"That's great, Rylie," I told him. "But if you're going to lead people to Jesus, you have to be right with Jesus, yourself. Last week, you said that you weren't repentant about your drug dealing. Has that changed?"

"Yeah, I really want to stop now."

"Then you need to repent of your sins and make Jesus Lord of your life." I explained to him again about what repentance means and what it means to surrender fully to Jesus. "Are you ready to do it?"

Rylie kept talking about what he wanted to do for Christ, but wasn't getting around to actually making a commitment to Christ. I couldn't tell if he was trying to change the subject or if his ADD was kicking in. It did seem to me that he really wanted to turn his life around. After a while, I interjected again: "Rylie, are you ready to repent of your sins and confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord of your life?"

We went back and forth like this a couple more times. Finally, I said, "Rylie, if you want to be saved, you need to confess your sins to God and surrender to Jesus. Do you want to do it right now?"

"I don't know what to do."

"Start by confessing your sins."

"That could take a long time!"

"That's OK. Why don't we go over here." We walked over to a more private spot on the jail floor and sat in a couple of chairs.

"Just tell the Lord you're sorry for your sins. If He brings specific sins to mind, confess them."

"God...," Rylie began, "I'm really sorry..." For the next ten minutes, Rylie wept and confessed his sins. The Holy Spirit kept bringing specific things to mind, and Rylie repented of them.

"What now?" he asked, wiping away tears with his jail uniform.

"Confess Jesus as Lord and ask Him to take control of your life." Rylie was tired of running his own life. He gladly asked Jesus to take over. "I don't want my worth to come from how much money I make on the streets. I just want to be Your child, God."

Afterwards, I assured him of God's forgiveness. Praise God for answered prayer! Pray that Rylie continues on the path of righteousness and grows strong in the Lord.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

"I'm saved, but I'm not going to heaven."

Last Thursday, I walked onto the jail pod, opened my ministry bag and waited for some guys to approach me.

"Do you have a Bible?" a young man asked me.

"I just have New Testaments today," I told him. "You can have one."

After introducing myself to "Rylie," he told me, "I'm saved, but I'm not going to heaven." Well, this peaked my interest so I asked him what he meant by that. He told me that he had "accepted Christ" and had attended a particular church when he was out, but that he didn't think he was going to make it to heaven.

"Why not?" I asked.

"Because I still do the things I know I shouldn't do. I'm addicted to drug dealing. I love the fame and the power."

"Are you famous?" I asked him (sort of tongue in cheek).

"Out there (on the streets) I am. I make the best crack around. I cook it myself. I don't use the cheap stuff. People know they're getting quality when they buy from me. I stopped selling drugs for a while and got a job flipping burgers. But it only paid $6 an hour. I've got a mortgage to pay. Why should I work at a job making so little when I can make $5000-$10,000 easily through a quick sell.

"The truth is, I'm not repentant," Rylie continued. "If you tell God you're sorry, but you keep doing the same thing, you're not really repenting."

I had to hand it to him: he really understood what it meant to repent and he knew he wasn't repentant.

"Rylie, you can't sleep at night, can you?"

"No, I can't. I have to take meds just to fall asleep. I always feel as if people are after me. I've had a rough life. I was born addicted to heroin. When I was young, I found my mom dead. She had been dead for two weeks. My dad is doing life in prison. I've got ADD and bipolar. I try to read the Bible, but I can't concentrate on it. But every time I flip it open to a random page, God speaks to me."

"Why don't you try it now?" I asked, handing him a Bible. He got a look of fear and trembling on his face. Taking the Bible, he began to pray almost frantically, asking for forgiveness. He then opened up the Bible and it landed momentarily on John 9. He closed the Bible, made a few side comments, flipped open the Bible again and once more, it landed on John 9. The NIV heading for that section of Scripture is Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind. That was all Rylie saw.

"Which is easier," I asked him, "to heal a man born blind, or to heal a man born addicted to heroin?"

"I would think it easier to heal a man born addicted to heroin," Rylie answered.

"Then if Jesus could heal a man born blind, he certainly could heal a man born addicted to heroin. Jesus can heal you, Rylie."

"But I have to want it."

"That's right."

Our conversation was cut short because some federal agents were about to show up wanting to speak with him. Pray that God opens Rylie's eyes to fully grasp the destruction that drugs are causing in his life. Pray God grants Rylie true repentance leading to salvation.