Friday, March 30, 2007

Something better

From Dave:

Early yesterday evening, there were several inmates sitting at a table closeby. They were talking, bragging and laughing about their sexual exploits.

In time, the nurse (A.K.A. "the pill lady") came to the Mod to give out daily meds to the inmates. After she arrived, the guys sitting at that table dispersed. One of them, Nick, came right to my table and started talking.

I looked Nick point blank in the eyes and said, "The Lord Jesus has something better in life for you than what you all were talking about." Nick smiled a little bit, and I again said, "You know I am right about this." Tears came to Nick's eyes, and he took in what was being said. Nick eventually confessed his sins and made Jesus his Lord.

I introduced Nick to Alex, the leader of a Life Transformation Group that meets in the Mod. Afterward, the three of us had a great time of talking and praying together.

At home a new man

Yesterday, after Trey and I prayed with Jay to receive Christ, Jay asked for prayer to be released from jail soon. He had been having difficulty trusting God with his release date.

"Jay," I told him, "God is for you, not against you. He sacrificed His only Son for you. You can trust Him with when you get released. He's already demonstrated His love for you. He will not do anything that does not lead to your good." We prayed and left it in God's hands.

A few hours ago, I got a phone call from Jay. He told me that he had just been released and knew he needed to call me as soon as he got home. I encouraged him to make sure he told his loved ones about what the Lord had done in his life.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


I came in to visit Trey after a two week absence. As we sat down to talk, several other men came and joined us at the table. We talked about a number of theological and personal issues with which the men were dealing.

One young man who had been sitting at the table left after a little while. I wanted him to feel included, so I found him and invited him to come back. "Jay" was a 22-year-old man and a first-timer in jail.

"I'm in here for domestic abuse. I was supposed to go to an anger management program, but I didn't have the money. The judge decided to put me in jail."

Jay continued, "I've been on my own for a long time. I never knew my father, and my mother died of AIDS when I was only five. She was a drug addict. I was in a foster home until the age of fifteen when I ran away. I connected with a relative for a while. Lately, I've been living at my girlfriend's mother's house. My girlfriend's mother is a strong Christian. She has so much joy and peace in her life. She has fun with her friends from church. My life is going nowhere. I know I just need to give my life over to God."

A number of us at the table were Christians and encouraged Jay that he did need to get right with God. He was listening to us and taking it in, but he still resisted. There were things in his life he didn't want to give up. Raj, a man in his 40's, told Jay how he could relate to many things in his life. "You just need to surrender, Jay."

As Raj was speaking, the Lord gave me a picture of a battlefield. On one end of the battlefield stood Jay. On the other end was an army on horseback riding toward Jay. Jay was an enemy to the army, which was closing in fast. At almost the last minute, Jay raised the white flag of "surrender." The army kept advancing and caught Jay. But now Jay was no longer an enemy; he was on the same side as the army. I was reminded of Romans 5:10 which talks about Christ dying for us while we were yet enemies of God.

I told Jay about the picture I got. "Jay, you are an enemy of God!" I said as my voice broke. "His army is riding after you. Judgment is coming! You need to surrender to Jesus!" Jay began to weep. All of us at the table continued to share our hearts with him. "I know I just need to surrender," he kept saying, "but I don't know what's stopping me."

"Shift change!" the deputy yelled. "Everybody back to his bunk." I didn't want to leave, but shift change was generally the time when volunteers had to vacate. In four years of ministry at the jail, I had never been allowed to stay during shift change. I was disappointed; Jay was so close to accepting Christ. I prayed he wouldn't harden his heart after our group broke up.

Then one inmate interjected, "Hey, you can stay here and keep talking to him as long as you go to his bunk. You just can't stay at the table." The deputy confirmed that I could stay and talk to Jay. I climbed up on his top bunk next to him, and we continued talking.

"I know that God is working on my life. I know that I'm in jail for a reason. When I first got here, there was a cross painted on the wall near the bed I was sleeping in. That night, I dreamed I was in church and I was talking to some young adults about the Lord. Now, here you come and talk to me about God, and specifically invited me back to the table after I had left. I'm ready to surrender."

I called Trey to pray with us. Through tears, Jay surrendered to Jesus. "You're going to go through trials and difficulties, Jay," Trey told him, "but God is going to be with you. He's never gonna leave you." I was really proud of Trey in the way he gave encouragement to Jay.

Jay will probably get out soon. Pray that he will get connected to a local church and to a group of men who can build him up in his faith.

On my way out, I saw Chuck. It turns out, he was in the bunk right below Jay the whole time we were talking. I don't think Chuck has come to Christ yet. Pray for him, too.

Friday, March 16, 2007

"Can God forgive him?

Yesterday, I was talking to "Trey," who used to attend my church on occasion. We were sitting together at one table, while at the table behind us, a group of inmates were playing cards. I was sharing my testimony of how I came to know Christ and was called into full-time ministry. I finished my conversation with Trey and was about to leave the area.

As I was leaving, I noticed a guy who had been sitting at the card-playing table. For much of my conversation with Trey, this guy seemed to be eavesdropping. He was a pretty big guy, maybe 5' 9", 280 lbs. I approached him and asked him if I could pray for him for anything.

"Yeah, I'm about to have a hearing, and I really want to get out soon," said 'Chuck.' All of a sudden, Chuck broke down in tears and added, "I really miss my son! That's the hardest thing for me about being in here. I'd really like you to pray for me for that."

Chuck was frustrated with himself for showing such emotion. "It's not really cool to be crying in front of 40 guys in jail. You don't want anyone in here to think you're weak."

"They probably do the same thing when they're alone in their cell," I assured him.

"Yeah, probably."

Chuck had grown up Catholic, and we talked about things pertaining to God for a while. At one point he told me that someday, he wanted to be right with God.

"Do you know how to get right with God, Chuck?"

"No, I don't."

I explained to him about God's desire to have a relationship with him, about the problem of sin, about Jesus' death and resurrection, and about repentance and faith leading to salvation. He was tracking with me, but there was one thing that really troubled him.

"That guy right behind you is in here for abusing a child. You mean to tell me that all this guy has to do is say he's sorry and God will forgive him?! How can that be fair? I want to shove a pencil in his eye!"

"Chuck, all of us deserve hell. None of us is righteous before God—you, me and everybody in this jail. God hates all sin. I can't claim to know anyone's heart, but God does. God knows those who are truly sincere. If that man who abused a child sincerely repented to God of his sins, and truly put his faith in Jesus Christ as Lord of his life, God would forgive him and save him. That doesn't mean he would not face the consequences of his actions in this life. But he would be spared eternal judgment."

This was still very difficult for Chuck to hear. As it turns out, Chuck was abused when he was four years old. "Chuck," I assured him, "Jesus can not only save you from your sins, He can also heal you of the effects of what happened to you when you were four."

We talked for a while more then I told him, "Chuck, if that man does not repent of his sin and turn to Jesus, he will suffer eternal punishment....But so will you, if you do not come to Jesus."

"Yes, I understand that," he said.

I explained to Chuck what it meant for him to repent and give his life to Jesus. He seemed to understand what was involved. He appeared to be very close to turning his life over to Christ. Pray for Chuck that the Holy Spirit would open his heart to fully surrendering his life to Christ.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

"You're a Bible thumper!"

From Dave:

There was an open table in the Mod area so I sat down and was joined by several inmates. The leader of the group told me that they were sheduled to have an AA meeting at that table, and I could stay if I wanted. I took the invitation and stayed with the meeting. Most of the guys knew that I was a Christian, and every once in a while during the meeting discussions somebody would ask my opinion on different issues. Christ came into the conversation several times. At the end of the meeting, several of us stayed around and talked and prayed.

After the AA meeting was over, Kurt wanted to talk some more and sat down opposite me. The first thing out of his mouth was, "You are one of those 'Bible thumping' guys!"

"Why do you say that?" I asked.

"All you 'Bible thumpers' do is bash everybody about sin. I don't respect that type of witness."

"I'm a Christian—a follower of Jesus. I have Jesus in my life, and I do care about what the Bible says about sin. "

We got into a longer discussion about how we are all sinners, and that Jesus was crucified, died, buried, and rose again. I explained that through Him, we can be clean of sin, and by His power we can live godly, productive, lives. I didn't press him on the sin concerns, but moved onto the good life that God had for Kurt, if he decided to follow Him. But, there was only one way to follow Jesus and get forgiven: to repent of sin!

It finally hit Kurt that rather than criticize "Bible thumpers," he had a need and an opportunity to repent and turn to Jesus for forgiveness and a new life.

And this he did! Kurt left a new man, with a Good News bible study unit, and said that he wanted to get involved with other Christian imates. I suggested that he consider one of the Life Transformation Groups (LTGs) and specifically pointed out the Christians in his Mod unit with whom he could begin to fellowship.

Pierced hand

I don't know how this story from Dave got buried. I guess I never posted it. Anyway, here's a testimony from December 2006:

Mike and Chris were sitting at a table with me. They were both concentrating on drawing and coloring various cartoon action figures and such. I noticed that in one of their portfolio binders there was a partially started figure of a "pierced hand" holding a flower. I mentioned that the figure looked similiar to that of Jesus' "pierced" hand on the cross. That comment did not result in any reaction from them. I explained more fully: "Jesus bled and died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose again." They stopped drawing, and I said again, "Jesus bled and died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose again."

The Lord got their attention! This started an intense conversation about believing in God and why Jesus was so different from anybody else. The Lord got through and both of them confessed their sins and received Jesus as their Savior and Lord. Both left with a Bible and a Good News bible study unit.