Friday, June 23, 2006

"I need my 'Higher Power'"

I sat with Dave on Thursday. He asked for a Bible so I gave him one. He said he knew he needed to get more "spiritual."

[Short shameless plug follows: If anybody is interested in donating Bibles or money for Bibles, I know the chaplains would greatly appreciate it. Good News Jail and Prison Ministry receives no government money, like some chaplain programs. This way they can preach the gospel without worrying about church-state issues. If you want to specifically help out the ministry in Monroe County, New York (USA), contact Chaplain Lou.]

"Things were going pretty well for me," Dave said. "I had a legitimate business making $120,000 year. I had a 3000 sq. ft. home on a beautiful lot. And then it happened. While my wife and I were on vacation in the Caribbean, I thought I'd reward myself for staying away from alcohol for 14 years: I tried one of the mixed drinks. I liked it so much, I tried another...and another. I was like a kid in a candy shop. I couldn't stop. That led me spiralling downhill fast. I couldn't control it.

"Eventually, my wife left me. She found another guy. One thing led to another and I got picked up on a felony charge."

"Were you a part of a church when you on the outside, Dave?"

"Yeah. I went to -------- Church with my wife and kids." (I knew the church to be a solid church in the area.) "It was hard to get the kids there," Dave continued. "They never wanted to go."

Dave talked for a long time about his life, his struggles with alcohol, his hurt and anger towards his wife from whom he is now separated, and his need for a "higher power." Afterward, he thanked me for listening and said he felt better getting stuff off his chest.

"Dave, has anyone ever told you how you can have a right relationship with God?"

"No, I don't think so."

"Do you know why Jesus came?"

"Well, I don't really want to talk about that right now." Dave was open to me suggesting where in his new Bible he could start reading. I told him to start in the book of Mark to learn about who Jesus is.

Pray that Dave's quest for his "higher power" would end at the feet of the Highest Power in all the universe: the Lord Jesus Christ.

LTG birth

Dave visited with the Life Transformation Group (LTG) made up of John, Mike and Novalus. It turns out that they are doing well so far, meeting about 2 times per week. Also, they report that they have collectively and individually been a witness to other inmates. In particular, they've been able to share the good news of Jesus with a Jehovah's Witness inmate.

While Dave was talking to the first LTG group, other inmates were gathered around listening and asking what LTG's were all about. Jason and Tom wanted more accountability regular Bible study in their lives. They decided to form a LTG.

I believe that regular accountability—including Bible study, confession of sin, prayer and witnessing—is so important for followers of Jesus. It's especially critical for us who struggle with having a disciplined life or have been caught up in habitual and addictive sin. I've been involved in LTG's for the last five years now with different men. I've seen guys get saved, grow in passion for the Lord, and get sent out to the mission field. I've been more regular in my Bible reading, praying for unbelievers and witnessing. If you're looking for something to help you take the next step in spiritual growth, check out Life Transformation Groups.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Another accountability group

Last Thursday, Dave went down to the correctional facility and within minutes several inmates seated themselves at the table with him. Their collective and individual need was prayer. So much was going on at once, that it took a little while to get things prayed up and sorted out.

A number of them expressed a desire to somehow be built up in prayer, the Word, and fellowship. As a result of this discussion, the first "new" Life Transformation Group was born in Mod B tonight made up of John, Mike and Novalus. Other LTG's had been started in the jails previously. What is really neat is that they all want Dave to personally check up on their progress on how they are running their LTG.

Pray that these men stay disciplined in their accountability, and that God continues to refine them and set them free.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Albanian anyone?

Thursday, I met a guy named Rob who was seated reading his Bible. "I'm part of a Bible study which meets every night from 6 to 8 pm. There are anywhere from 6 to 10 guys who come." Rob is interested in Restoration Ministries and knows some of the men with whom I met to get the ministry going.

"I want you to meet a friend of mine who I've been witnessing to," Rob said. "His name is Ibush. He grew up Muslim and speaks limited English, but I've been praying for him a lot. In fact, I've been encouraging him to pray to Jesus because Jesus answeres prayer."

Ibush would like to have an Albanian language Bible. Please pray that we can find him one. Pray also that the Lord heals his eyes so he can see better, or that he gets glasses.

Daniel, Gerald and Darrion are also interested in Restoration Ministries. Darrion is one of the coordinators of the nightly Bible study. I just met the other two that day. Pray that they will have the inner motivation to stay disciplined and accountable to another man when they get out.

Thoughts on backsliding

It's hard not to get jaded in this ministry. You hear guys' stories. They tell of how bad they've been. They weep in repentance over their sin. They get connected to a church. They get involved in a small group, in ministry, etc. Then they fall off the wagon and end up in trouble again.

I know I'm the same way. How many times have I told God, "I'll never do that again" only to find myself doing it again. How often have I had to go to a pastor or friend and tell him that I've fallen again in the same area. It just gets discouraging when you invest so much in someone and you see so much progress. You begin to question yourself, Was I taken for a ride? Did I miss something? Was I being too naive?

True, there is always something to learn. In this case, we learned the importance of strict accountability. We saw the power—and the madness—of drug addiction. What a scourge on the human soul it is! What a tool of the devil to enslave untold thousands. I guess it's good that we got a dose of reality now rather than later.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

MIA Update

Thanks for praying for Marcos. Apparently, he checked himself into a detox center somewhere. We are not sure where. Pray that he will surrender to the Lord fully for healing and deliverance. And pray, too, that he would be reunited with his church family.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Please pray for "Marcos." He is a guy I had met in the jail about a year and a half ago. When he got out, he began attending a local church and got really connected.

He has not been heard from in two weeks now. His family, friends and job haven't seen him. His family says he has gotten into some trouble. Please pray that he will return to the Lord and to fellowship with Christians.