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.


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