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.


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