For over 5 years, I corresponded frequently with an inmate, Stephen D, in a most safety penitentiary in Indiana. Stephen was launched April 13th.
The previous years have been an schooling for me. Stephen writes in a decent, neat script and makes use of all of the margins on either side of foolscap. His letters run Eight-12 pages. He has supplied me with the within view of jail life, and an inside glimpse into one prisoner’s coronary heart, like nothing I might have gotten in need of doing jail time myself.
(Stephen has instructed me that any a part of his story that might assist others I’m free to share).
Largely, his letters have been for me a graduate degree course on the truth and energy of God’s grace.
Stephen is within the firm of intercourse offenders, murderers, gangsters, drug peddlers, profession criminals. His personal crime is grievous. But time and again I’ve been moved to tears as he describes how Jesus is reworking him, and the boys round him, from being “the worst of sinners” to being “examples of God’s mercy and limitless endurance”
“I thank my God all the time regarding you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you simply have been enriched in every part by Him in all utterance and all data(1 Timothy 1:15-16).
A pattern from his final letter (once more, together with his full permission) as he describes a worship service amongst prisoners:
The Lord is actually working miracles! As I go searching, the magnitude of what Jesus is doing is nothing in need of revealing who He’s “all for our good”. The indicators of his mercy encompass us. His pricey grace is being evidenced via the hearts of many who, with a life surrendered to His will, have deserted the short-lived trappings of this world. The sounds of rejoicing rain down from the redeemed of the Lord. What a mighty God we’ve chosen to serve!
Virtually makes you need to go to jail!
Why am I telling you this?
The jail chaplain shared with the pastors of town. One factor he mentioned is that prisoners’ who flip their life over to Jesus in jail, and make vital progress there, typically by no means discover a church after their launch the place they really feel welcome.
He additionally warned about a number of the pitfalls of church buildings who’re naïve, who entrust an excessive amount of too quickly to women and men who’re simply starting to kind out life this facet of freedom.
He’s not recommending such naivety. However many church buildings select the alternative method: open suspicion, even hostility. Ex-prisoners sniff that out shortly, get the message, and keep away.
It bought me considering: if Stephen got here to our church, would he really feel welcome?
I feel the reply is sure. All the identical, it’s value pushing the query slightly additional by making it, for every of us, private: would I welcome him?
Might God’s grace abound in all our lives.
By Mark Buchanan
Utilized by Permission
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