Planting Churches Behind Bars
“We have already begun to have meetings on the yard and are not being shy about the fact that we are members of CTV and we are here to Live the victory of Jesus, Seek the advance of his Kingdom in the city (which prison is representative of), and Stand on the Ancient Christian faith. Our hope is to be able to eventually have a Sunday night service, which will be distinctively Christ the Victor Church. We see no reason to beat around the bush here, but are committed to seeing this through.”
This is an excerpt of a letter from a TUMI student in one of the prisons in Kansas where we have a TUMI satellite. This brother is a leader in the church behind bars and a powerful witness for Christ and His Kingdom wherever he goes. The words above strike me as unique for a number of reasons.
First, there is an amazing sense of clarity of purpose. It makes me wonder how I pursue the things that God has clearly led me to do. Do I approach God’s call with clear-cut obedience and determination to pursue no matter what the cost? How passionate am I about declaring the victory of Christ and planting churches that declare this truth in the hardest and darkest places on our planet? Do I really believe God’s power can overcome the evil one when I hear so much in the news that brings me despair?
Secondly, there is an amazing combination of boldness and humility in this excerpt, as well as his entire letter. He has a leadership quality that I do not see too often. Some Christian leadership either tends to be to too harsh to too soft. How am I leading those God has entrusted to me? Do I lead with courage and faith in and taking risks for God since He has promised His powerful presence and deliverance or do I fuss over details that are out of my control and hang back out of fear? Do I firmly believe that my leadership is not really about me but rather about the One I represent?
Thirdly, there is aggressive action under the leading of the Holy Spirit. This brother is one who has much determination to do all he can for the Lord in the days he has remaining on this earth, but also a yielding to the Spirit that keeps him from being out of control. Do I run wildly like a man beating the air or do I move when the Lord says move with all His energy so powerfully working in me?
In case this is news to you that God is raising up his finest leaders in the prisons of America, please consider learning more and praying for sold-out-to-Christ men and women behind bars. Consider learning from them and emulating their faith as they follow Christ. Jesus commanded his followers to visit those who are in prison (among other distinguishing marks of authentic Christianity). I believe this also means to fully believe and act on the fact that these men and women, no matter what the crime, can be God’s agents of ministry and reconciliation in a dark world!