As missionaries, we get used to playing first-string positions in ministry. We aren’t always great at them but we are used to filling in necessary and leading positions. However, the key to doing our jobs well is knowing when it’s time to put ourselves on the bench and let other leaders take the field. The recent prison revival in Hutchinson Correctional Facility (HCF) was a clear reminder of our desire here at World Impact to work ourselves into second-string positions.
For years missionaries and ministry partners have ministered in HCF, leading classes for The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI), as well as training and supporting several of those students as they have launched two church plants on the inside. Last year we coordinated and led a revival event, which connected new men to these churches. This year, when discussion of planning another revival came up, one of the church leaders on the inside told our staff that they would like to be the ones to lead the event. We were thrilled to say, “Of course!”
We coordinated some of the supporting pieces and lined up Christian rap artists Dre. B and Json for entertainment, while the men on the inside planned and prepared for leading the event. On the day of the revival, 17 of us went in to join our brothers on the inside for a powerful ministry event, an event where our main role as missionaries was to support and cheer and pray from the bench!
Over 150 men crowded into the bleachers set up around a corner in the prison yard to hear fellow inmates testify to the grace of God. They told stories of how God found them and how they can stand in the blood of Christ, forgiven and carrying no shame. The sun was hot, and birds flew overhead as the and the metal siding on the buildings buzzed from the bass in the music. Men’s hands were lifted as they sang worship songs and excitedly bobbed in the air in time with the Christian performers.
One inmate shared the evangelistic message, in which he declared 5 Things that God Does Not Know, including “God doesn’t know anyone who hasn’t sinned” and “God doesn’t know a better time than now to give your life to Him!” More than 20 men came forward to accept Christ or rededicate their lives to Him.
After the event one of the key leaders from the church on the inside wrote one of our missionaries saying, “Just see how GOD truly moves in His people, doing what they are called to do. Coming together to do it [was a] great experience. Things like this are priceless and to be able to experience it here in prison is awesome. I can only imagine what the next chapter of my life will look like in the LORD.”
God truly does move in His people, whether serving in the city or behind prison walls and we know that the exciting work in HCF is only just beginning, as God continues to raise up a powerful group of leaders to be the ones to carry the banner of Christ inside the prison walls!