God is love. Love is sacrifice. God sacrificed His only Son for us because He loves us.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” John 3:16
Our team saw love in action through sacrifice this past Friday night. Our services on Friday nights are always full…we can only have 100 people in the chapel due to the fire code and on top of that, once every offender signs in, even if they left, we could not replace their name with another. Last Friday the chapel was full once again, the signup sheet was being passed around and was almost to the last couple of rows. A young man entered and James told him to hang on just a second, I think we are full. James counted and looked at the list and regretfully told the man he was sorry that there was no more room. Then…one of our regular attenders said, James, I’d like to give him my seat, I haven’t signed in yet. James told him he didn’t have to do that but he insisted that he wanted to. So, he left the chapel and Justin (the newcomer) took his place. To many people this may not seem like a big deal but when you are locked up and look forward to putting everything else aside and worship God with fellow believers…it’s a sacrifice to give it up. I think it’s difficult for us to even imagine having to give up attending church on Sunday due to overcrowding, it would be hard for me to do and I live outside the razorwire. We had a great service that night, 4 men came to receive Christ at the invitation…one of those men was Justin…we were humbled and overwhelmed and so grateful for God’s power and work in the chapel service and in the lives of the believers at this camp. We prayed a prayer of thanksgiving before leaving…but God wasn’t done yet, we stopped at Chick Fil A on the way home and a young lady, who we’ve talked to before, asked us if we went to prison tonight. We told her yes and she began asking us questions about heaven and God, we answered as best we could, we told her about God’s Word being truth and faith…another opportunity to share Him, this time outside the razorwire.
This story of love is not over yet…Sunday night we were at a different prison, a man that had been transferred from Algoa about a month ago was so excited to see us, he hadn’t been to one of our Algoa services in a few months because due to the overcrowding situation he wanted other man to be able to attend. Another seat given up to allow someone else a chance to hear the gospel. This night’s service was very powerful, 8 men came to know Jesus as Savior! One young man was leaving soon! A revival is breaking out in prisons! On the way home our ministry page received a message, a message about love…here it is:
Just want to say thank you so much Mrs. Christy, Mr. James and Mr. Johnny. On February 5, 2017 at BCC you changed my whole life around. Up until that moment I didn’t believe that there was anybody our there that cared for or loved me. I went to church that night with a whole lot of pain in my heart and feeling of worthlessness inside of me. From the first beautiful words of song from Mrs. Christy’s voice to the first words of Mr. James’ scripture I felt that I was loved and cared about and when Mr. Johnny told his testimonial that night of being in prison several times and finding God and realizing God ,as well as others like the Hoaglands, do care about us inmates and how his life was changed by that. At the end of the service, Mrs. Christy played a song that brought so many emotions to life inside that all I could do was cry. While this was going on Mr. James and Mr. Johnny said we could come forward and they would pray with us as well as for us. I went up there and knelt crying like a baby and asked God for forgiveness and welcomed him into my new life. Mr. Johnny came over and knelt down beside me and told me it was ok to cry, when I looked at him, he had tears in his eyes as well. Mr. Johnny put his hand on my shoulder and pray for me, something no one else had ever done and he did it from the heart…
This story goes on about how others loved him when he left prison just a couple months later. These encounters have nothing to do with us, we are just along for the ride, trying to follow Jesus in obedience and be used by Him as His instruments to share His Gospel. Please love someone today…share Jesus.
Sing for the King,