I don’t really have a bucket list per say, but there are certain things I have in mind to accomplish, and one very strange thing that I desired to do was to minister in a prison. I know… I’m weird that way. But from my days of working in Magistrate court I’ve had a much higher tolerance for criminals than for some of the people supposedly working for their good. The arrogance on the part of those out of chains who treated criminals with disdain would grind my nerves bare. How could we ever hope for their correction and redemption when they were given no encouragement to change? Disrespect breeds disrespect. My burden for them likely has more to do with the fact that it was during this time of my life that I was saved; so I understood redemption. I understood that I was every bit as unworthy as the man or woman arrested and brought before our courts, the only difference was Christ had interceded on my behalf.
So when a friend and prison Chaplin asked me a few weeks ago to sing to a prison population during an in house revival, I was grateful for the opportunity. His facility houses over 300 inmates, 80 or so attend his weekly Bible study and worship hour, approximately one quarter of the population; men who found freedom from the opposite side of the bars. Many would likely say that that’s what it took to get them saved. They may or may not be grateful at this point but there will come a day when they will be.
It reminded me this morning of the story of Paul and Silas, who were imprisoned for sharing the gospel and yet rejoiced from within their dark and dank prison cell.
And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.
The inmates I’m singing to tonight were likely not imprisoned unjustly, but from inside their cells they’ve discovered the freedom of Christ Jesus our Lord.
My great friend and Chaplin has such a burden for the men he ministers to. Perhaps because he was one of those arrogant people that I referred to earlier. I speak not in disrespect, it’s his story to tell and he does. As a former police officer in the State of New York, he somehow made his way to Grantsville, West Virginia and retired. Something he’s not very good at, he’s done it several times since I’ve known him. But he speaks often of his inability to see past the crime committed by someone on his watch. They were unworthy of a second chance until he discovered how many chances the Lord had given him. And now he’s where he never dreamed he would be, doling out mercy on the inside of the prison rather than doling out justice on the outside.
Today, we’ll be teaming up. He’s ministering the gospel in Word and I’m ministering the gospel in song. I’m humbled to have the opportunity. If you have a minute or two, I’d appreciate prayer. Pray first for the salvation and encouragement of souls who attend tonight’s revival, pray the songs I sing will be chosen in the Spirit not the flesh and will prepare the hearts to hear the message, and last but not least, pray for our safety traveling. The prisons a few hours away and it will make for a late night returning home. I pray blessings for your day as well!