"Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering...Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains." Psalm 107: 10, 13-14.
Since the first of the year, there have been some big changes in our local jail. All the women have been moved to a distant facility. I will miss encouraging them with the Word of God. I've been doing this for eleven years and have been blessed by watching so many come into a personal relationship with the living Lord. I have the opportunity to join my husband's team. I was a bit dubious last month, the first time I saw the men. Only two men came to our 'church service'. They stole my heart, and I knew I was to continue this ministry. There are 900 - 1,000 men jailed here which means endless possibilities to share God's love, forgiveness and grace, and a new, better way to live life.
Most of the men and women in jail have the same underlying problem, drugs and alcohol, which has led to their incarceration. Drugs and alcohol steal dreams, change life, and often enslave us to a life we'd never have chosen for ourselves. And, you can almost always count on this...DOPE will mean 'death or prison eventually'. Rehab programs abound. They measure some success, but the changes are seldom lasting. This is why, nationwide, we have such a large percentage returning to jail or prison. Returning more than once!
We never go into the jail alone. And now, because we're seeing the men, we women must have a man with us. I was so blessed last month to go in with a couple from our church who have beautiful voices and a heart for the struggles of these men. The two men we saw last month will not return after their release. I'm very sure of it. I'll call them Sam and Tom. Sam told us told us this, "The chains of habit are too small to be noticed until they are too strong to be broken." Amen! I believe this is true of many of the 'habits' we'd like to change before they become a big problem.
Tom told us that the bunk in his cell has become an altar; a place he can kneel to pray, read his Bible and experience hope for a better day. He often communicates with a pastor who has greatly encouraged him. Together, they are working on setting up an organization they call 'No Punk Ministry'. This means, 'No person goes unnoticed or negelected in the Kingdom'. This is an outreach for people trying to find their way out of trouble and into the peace and security of God's love.
How about that? I'm impressed by how the Lord motivates us.
We sang this song - such beautiful and appropriate words...
"I'm a new creation,
I'm a brand new man.
Old things are passed away,
I've been born again.
More than a conqueror,
that's who I am.
I'm a new creation,
I'm a brand new man!"
I recently uncovered the very first 'message' I gave in jail on March 10, 2001. Once God has worked His life and words into your heart, you are changed forever. God doesn't change and neither does His truth. I can repeat this message and know it is the same today as it was eleven years ago.
Acts 4:12 - Salvation, and a changed life, is found in Jesus alone. Romans 8: 37-38 - Nothing will ever separate us from God's love. II Corinthians 5:17 - if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. I Thessalonians 5:24 - The One (God) who calls is faithful, and He will give us the power to succeed. Romans 8:10, 10:11 - There is no condemnation for those who belong to Jesus - and no shame!
When you go to jail, or prison, your power is taken away. But these two men didn't feel powerless, because they know they have the power of the Holy Spirit.
Don't let alcohol and drug addiction steal your life. God is willing to rescue you, just ask Him.
'Lord, I've made a mess of my life. I can't do this on my own, and I confess I need you. I want your forgiveness, I accept your grace - I know I don't deserve it, and I ask that you give me the faith to believe and make you the Lord of my life.'
Thank you Jesus that you care so much for your children. We all have a sinful nature and only you can wash us clean, give us a better life, and make us presentable before God's throne.
Bobbe Van Hise
- Over the past few years my blog has been visited by people from all over the world. Very few know me, or of me, they simply are looking information concerning the Bible and discover my blog. After many years of intense study and teaching, I've come to believe we are vulnerable to misguided and incorrect teaching if we don't understand for ourselves the teaching of God's Word. My 'hot buttons' are - grace, sovereignty, exhortations and sanctification. If you understand these basic principles of Scripture, and apply them to daily life, you will understand what it means to have peace, joy and absolute security in any circumstance.