Thursday, February 22, 2007

Making disciples who make disciples

From Dave:

Last night, I spent the whole evening with three guys who are doing a Life Transformation Group (LTG) together. LTG's are groups of two or three individuals of the same sex that meet for prayer, accounability, Scripture discussion and repoting on evangelistic opportunities. There are several nice things that the Lord is doing through this LTG.

It appears that most of the guys are intensely working on (and near completion of) the Good News bible lesson series, and we reviewed their individual progress.

We spent a lot of time tonight on evangelism training. They were concerned about how they should best outreach to their fellow inmates. By the grace of the Lord, I gave them some suggestions that I believe will help them be effective. We talked and prayed a lot about this need.

This little LTG, mostly led by a man named Alex, is leading a nightly prayer meeting in their module with several inmates participating. (The prayer meeting starts promptly at 9:17 pm EST if you want to pray for them!) I am in thankgiving to the Lord Jesus for His hand on these guys.

"No I don't; yes I do."

Dave was at the correctional facility a short while back. He met with a small group of Christian guys for prayer and fellowship. After the group disbursed, "Chris" sat down at the table with Dave. He was clearly in a discouraged and depressed condition.

Chris initiated the conversation with a huge open door: "I don't want to talk to you." Dave responded by telling him that he didn't have to say anything. "I'll talk and you can just listen." (Not so) amazingly, Chris did not leave the table.

After sharing how Jesus loved him and had good thingsfor him, Dave told him the good news of the Lord's forgiveness and salvation. Right there Chris confessed his sin, and received salvation!

As Dave was leaving, Chris came up to him smiling. "I feel so good now; thanks so much!" Dave explained to him what had happened, and that it was all the grace of the Lord Jesus. Dave encouraged him to continue to follow the Lord and get into the Word.

Sometimes people may show initial interest in the things of God, but ultimately turn away. This can discourage us. There are others who, at first, seemingly are not interested. But God may be testing us to see if we will sensitively persevere with them. There is no formula. Only let us seek to be led by the Spirit and to keep our eyes on what the Father is doing.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Another Divine Appointment

Last Friday, I was planning on visiting a member of the church I pastor. I hadn't visited with him in a couple of weeks and was anxious to see how he was. When I got to his area in the "Mainframe," I was told by the deputy that no visits would be allowed. It was disappointing, but I sensed that God had someone else for me to talk to that day in another part of the jail.

I decided to go to a jail pod in the "Tower" that I hadn't visited in a while. Peering through the window in the door, I noticed that the deputy on duty was one that I knew to be Christian. He buzzed me in and we greeted each other. Soon after I walked in, an inmate asked if he could talk to me.

"I had been a youth pastor in this city for a number of years, " 'Neal' told me. "I was doing OK, until my marriage fell apart. After that, I quickly got back into doing drugs. I went from one bad relationship and marriage to another...and another. The woman I was most recently with had been the mistress of an important man in town. She cheated on me with still another man. That man is right here in the same jail pod as me!"

It took Neal a while to unfold his story for me. He was born in and grew up in another country. Having been raped at age four, his soul was radically scarred. The only relationships he knew with women were marked by emotional and physical abuse. (He showed me the permanent damage to a part of his body that came as a result of a lover's rage.)

"I'm glad you came," Neal continued. "Just before you got here, I was talking to the deputy about some of my problems. When you walked into the jail pod, he told me to go talk to you."

"Neal, I wasn't planning on coming here today. I was supposed to visit another man, but was not allowed in his area. I knew that God had someone else for me to talk to. That was you!

"Where was God in all of my trials? Why did He leave me?" he asked.

"God, can restore you, Neal. That restoration process comes about through repentance, forgiveness, and acceptance of His healing power in your life."

Even though Neal was a Christian, all the women he had been with were unbelievers. "I thought I could lead them to God. I thought I could help them. But I see now that I was unequally yoked."

We prayed together briefly before it was time for lock-in, when the inmates must return to their individual cells. Pray that Neal would be fully restored in his relationship with the Lord, and that God would one day again use him to minister to others.