Locked in Solidarity: Inside the Walls
I grew up in the heartland of America, in the middle of corn and wheat fields. But in 1986, God called my wife and I and our two children to join an urban missions organization, called World Impact. This involved living and ministering in places such as South Central Los Angeles and other urban areas that were foreign to how we grew up. But we soon fell in love with the city, the people of the city and all the different languages and cultures represented in the city.
Early on in our ministry, we were ingrained with the belief that God has chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and do great things for His Kingdom (James 2:5). Over the last 34 years, we have come to see that God uses the most unlikely people to do great things for Him, regardless of circumstances or lack of resources.
Over the years, I have come to know, love, and respect a segment of the population that most people do not expect much from – the men and women who are incarcerated. In fact, I believe that the next great revival in the Church will come through these men and women in prison and those who are returning citizens.
Over the last couple of years, I have had the privilege of connecting with, mentoring and learning from committed disciples of Christ who are incarcerated in the Hutchinson Correctional Facility in Kansas. We all come with our preconceived notions of what we think people are like as defined by their circumstances, and prison is no exception.
We are unfortunately shaped by the larger society to believe or assign certain attributes to people who are inside the walls. But one of the things I find that breaks down stereotypes or false beliefs is by listening to people’s stories and getting to know them as individuals.
As I sit with people on the inside and listen to their stories, I am awed by their strength, perseverance, their faith in God, and their desire to walk humbly and courageously with their heavenly Father. I see a simple but profound faith in action in an environment that presents challenges much more demanding than what I could ever conceive or experience in my own life. In short, I am humbled by their sheer faith and obedience and honored to call them my fellow brothers in Christ.
One of the privileges I have had in this last year is to be a part of monthly Christ The Victor church services in both minimum and medium units at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility. It is a joy for me to see how God has endowed the Church with creative and amazing gifts of worship, teaching, preaching and administration.
I see this played out each month as men of God use their gifting to encourage, challenge, and exhort fellow church members for the glory of God. I see gifted artists lead us in amazing worship and the Word of God being expounded upon in a spirit of grace and truth. I also hear testimonies of how their faith in God is impacting those around them in everyday life in prison.
These dear brothers will do much more for God’s Kingdom Advancement inside and outside of the walls – more than what we could ever dream of doing. Again, this is why I believe the next great revival will come from those inside the walls and those who are returning citizens. It is my joy to call them co-laborers in the harvest field of Jesus Christ.
This year we are joining CCDA's efforts to create the space needed to listen to stories of people in our communities who are directly impacted, to learn about the greater impact of mass incarceration, to pray, and to engage public sector officials who have the power and position to impact change. Check out their resources here.
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