Unseen Study ~ Chapter 1

It’s finally here! Time to begin this 8 Week Study. Let’s get started…

Have you considered hiddenness before? I’ve noticed plenty of sinfulness in my life over not being seen and as God has revealed it…it hurt. But this is part of our journey, this is how we grow in Him, this is part of sanctification. And as much as it hurts, it is necessary if we want to become more like Jesus and closer to our King. So as we read, study, pray…let us not simply check our boxes that we have completed each task, let us instead dig deep into the Word, praying that God will reveal our sin, our need for His work in us and the need to be hidden in Him. Let us be honest so we can grow. Yep, I’m asking of all of you, myself included to be all in, real, genuine in this study.

“To truly know God in the ache of hiddenness requires us, first, to acknowledge the ache and not placate ourselves or one another with the quick answers. (Quick, pat answers can be the enemy to lasting growth or change in God.)” – Sara Hagerty

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”  But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

Prior to cracking this book, how have you perceived Mary’s one good thing, the good portion? Ponder this…

Now,

Now, read Chapter 1 and study the Scriptures at the end of the chapter under “For Your Continued Pursuit”

Unseen ~ Book Study Launch

Click here to sign up!

Every heart longs to be seen and understood.

Yet most of our lives is unwitnessed. We spend our days working, driving, parenting. We sometimes spend whole seasons feeling unnoticed and unappreciated. So how do we find contentment when we feel so hidden?

In Unseen, Sara Hagerty suggests that this is exactly what God intended. He is the only One who truly knows us. He is the only One who understands the value of the unseen in our lives. When this truth seeps into our souls, we realize that only when we hide ourselves in God can we give ourselves to others in true freedom—and know the joy of a deeper relationship with the God who sees us.

Our culture applauds what we can produce, what we can show, what we can upload to social media. Only when we give all of ourselves to God—unedited, abandoned, apparently wasteful in its lack of productivity—can we live out who God created us to be. As Hagerty writes,

“Maybe my seemingly unproductive, looking-up-at-Him life produces awe among the angels.”

Through an eloquent exploration of both personal and biblical story, Hagerty calls us to offer every unseen minute of our lives to God. God is in the secret places of our lives that no one else witnesses. But we’ve not been relegated to these places. We’ve been invited.

We may be “wasting” ourselves in a hidden corner today: The cubicle on the fourth floor. The hospital bedside of an elderly parent. The laundry room. But these are the places God uses to meet us with a radical love. These are the places that produce the kind of unhinged love in us that gives everything at His feet, whether or not anyone else ever proclaims our name, whether or not anyone else ever sees.

God’s invitation is not just for a season or a day. It is the question of our lives: “When no one else applauds you, when it makes no sense, when you see no results—will you waste your love on Me?”

The above is from Sara Hagerty’s website.  I cannot tell you how much I need this study and I am excited to be vulnerable and bare my soul with each of you who choose to participate. I am in a constant state of “do this and do that”, my head is continually thinking of what I have to do next, it is difficult for my mind to be still and then I chastise myself and ask the Lord for forgiveness once again for my misused time.  If you are constantly thwarted by distractions and the busyness of life, join me as we share our hearts and precious minutes together.  I am eager to grow in my relationship with the Lord, to be seen by Him and unseen by the world.  ~ Christy

Click the link above to sign up!

WHY WE GO

“And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” Mark 16:15

God’s calling is why we go and share the Gospel in prisons…the testimonials below are a sweet glimpse into God’s moving in the hearts of people and a wonderful reminder to keep serving to build His Kingdom!

“I want you guys to know ya’ll saved my life by sharing the message of Christ with me in a way I never heard it before. Special thanks to Johnny for letting me know I don’t have to settle for a ”wasted” life. Amen!” – Offender A.

“Your ministry has brought me closer to God and saved my life. Thank you.” – Offender E.

“I have come to know Jesus Christ on a personal level through Sing for the King Ministries, they changed my life forever.” – Offender T.

“I just want to say thank you for all the time you gave us…you all are truly blessed and filled with the Spirit. You all helped me get back to where I needed to be with God.” – Offender P.

“They encouraged and helped strengthen my personal relationship with the Lord. I’m forever grateful that they allow God to use them for “HIS” glory!!!! – Offender E.

“I was so blessed to have Sing for the King come in to Algoa Correctional and bring amazingly great worship and ministry!  I can still hear the songs wherever I go and really know how to worship the Lord through song wherever I am at!  I’ll never forget!” – Offender N.

“I found Jesus on April 14, 2016 at Algoa Correctional and was baptized on July 20, 2016.  Upon release from prison, the bad people I used to hang around showed up.  I kept quoting resist the devil and he will flee from you and after a few weeks those people disappeared and my ministry took off full blast, I am now actually involved in a church.  I thank God that He saved me, seven years of incarceration, seven different times…I faced death many times, but Jesus Christ set me free and today I praise Him, praise Him, Hallelujah!  I pray that everyone that walks out of prison will walk out of there with the armor of God and carry their Bible, their sword and know that Jesus Christ is beside them.  Thank you James, Johnny, and Christy.”  – Offender L.

“Still clean! Still praising our Lord and finding freedom!  Thank you all for your service and carrying the Word of God!  It changed my life!  Thank you, thank you! God bless!” – Offender E.

“I came to chapel every Friday night.  James, Christy and Johnny, you helped me grow my faith and relationship with God.” – Offender E.

“Sing for the King Ministries ushers the Holy Spirit into prisons like no other! Powerful! 
I found the King there in 2015. Been a free man in love with God ever since. Over two years of true freedom.” – Offender L.

“I just got released from M.C.C. you guys are making a big impact on the guys at the prison, praise the most High GOD!” – Offender M.

“I want to thank you for all you have done for our son. He has such hope for his future thanks to God and people like you. Thank you so much and God Bless You!” – Parents of Offender T.

“I wanted to reach out to you with a sincere thanks for the music and words of Christian inspiration while at Algoa. I was released 10 months ago, all good here and I want you to know that I pray often for you three and the men of Algoa. Please…Continue the good work and know that you are doing meaningful work in the lives of many.” – Offender K.

“The peace they bring to prisons is truly amazing, God is so great!” – Offender T.

“Sing for the King’s Christy Hoagland, played for our Mission Fellowship Conference group. I enjoyed it very much so I a bought a CD. Today after school I played it while helping my daughter clean her room. She has been dancing and trying to sing along. She loves it. I might need another one…she might not share. Lol. I do a Monday night jail ministry in my small town and when I told her this lady does jail ministry with music. She decided she wants to do that when she grows up.” – Jail Missionary

“Wonderful ministry and great witness for the Lord!” – Sing for the King Supporter

“Sing for the King Ministries recently began leading our 3rd Sunday evening CG main worship service, and have immediately become our most popular worship leaders/preachers.  They are really easy to work with…they have servant hearts…and their worship leadership and preaching is phenomenal!  Christy Hoagland is a fabulous worship leader and soloist!  James is a great preacher and Johnny Allen identifies with the offenders in a very real way!!  If you want your offenders to meet with Jesus, I recommend that you invite Sing for the King Ministries to conduct a worship service or concert!” – Chaplain, JCCC (February 2017, sent to other MO DOC Chaplains)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” Luke 4:18

MERE WORDS…

by Christy Hoagland

I’m always saying that words cannot adequately describe the things God allows us to witness inside the razor wire.  Seeing one broken and lost soul come to faith in Jesus is a miraculous sight to behold.  And yet, God continues to reach down and rescue man after man inside the prison walls and we get to be a part of it.  Mere words don’t say enough, mere words can’t make you feel enough, mere words can’t make you experience the wonder of seeing the power of God’s grace wash over a once condemned to hell man and give him life.  I wish I could describe what it is to look into a man’s hopeless eyes, see the transforming truth of the Gospel penetrate his heart, see the tears of repentance, and then look into those same eyes that are now filled with hope, with love for a Savior they had never known before, and a smile that is genuine.

Mere words cannot make you tired from traveling from one prison to the next or extremely vocally fatigued.  Words cannot tell you what it’s like to do 10 prison services in 8 different prisons in 9 days along with 2 other outside the razor wire services…or how much planning and behind the scenes work goes into bringing in equipment and guests…the list goes on and on.  Words cannot illustrate what it is to see God’s overwhelming presence in every single service and hundreds of men responding to the precious Gospel of Jesus Christ to be set free.

And mere words can’t sufficiently make you see how worth it, it is.

Dear Jesus,
Thank You for every mile traveled, every opened door, and every heart You redeem.  YOU are worth it! YOU are worthy of it all!  Thank You for sending me. – Amen

What’s Up with Reckless Love?

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By Christy Hoagland

Reckless Love? What does that mean? Why? How? Huh? Who? Whutty?

I have tried to wrap my head around one of the hottest new worship songs out right now.  The song ‘Reckless Love’ by Cory Asbury is everywhere or nowhere it seems.  Do people really love it or hate it?  Is it the “sloppy wet kiss” controversy all over again?  Well, agree or disagree…here are my thoughts.

Definition(s):

Dictionary.com –

adjective: reckless
  1. (of a person or their actions) without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action.
    “reckless driving”
    synonyms: rashcarelessthoughtlessheedlessunheedinghasty, overhasty, precipitateprecipitousimpetuousimpulsivedaredevildevil-may-care;

    irresponsiblefoolhardyaudaciousoveradventurous;
    ill-advisedinjudiciousmadcapimprudentunwiseill-considered;
    informalkamikaze;
    literarytemerarious
    “reckless driving”

Merriam-Webster –

Definition of Reckless 

1marked by lack of proper caution careless of consequences

And just for kicks….

Urban Dictionary –

-1 a person whos actions are putting the people around him in harms way

2- acting very stupid

3- in a state of dangerous stupidity

 

We can throw out some of those…but can we all agree that basically being reckless means not caring about the consequences?

The first and last line of the chorus: “Oh the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God”

Overwhelming – very great in amount, very strong.

Never-ending – (I know this isn’t necessary) endless.

I think both overwhelming and never-ending are proper descriptive words for God’s love.  I just don’t think reckless quite fits.  Now before you freak out, let’s look at Cory’s reasoning behind using the word reckless.

“Many have asked me for clarity on the phrase, “reckless love”. Many have wondered why I’d use a “negative” word to describe God. I’ve taken some time to write out my thoughts here. I hope it brings answers to your questions. But more than that, I hope it brings you into an encounter with the wildness of His love.

When I use the phrase, “the reckless love of God”, I’m not saying that God Himself is reckless. I am, however, saying that the way He loves, is in many regards, quite so. What I mean is this: He is utterly unconcerned with the consequences of His actions with regards to His own safety, comfort, and well-being. His love isn’t crafty or slick. It’s not cunning or shrewd. In fact, all things considered, it’s quite childlike, and might I even suggest, sometimes downright ridiculous. His love bankrupted heaven for you. His love doesn’t consider Himself first. His love isn’t selfish or self-serving. He doesn’t wonder what He’ll gain or lose by putting Himself out there. He simply gives Himself away on the off-chance that one of us might look back at Him and offer ourselves in return.

His love leaves the ninety-nine to find the one every time. To many practical adults, that’s a foolish concept. “But what if he loses the ninety-nine in search of the one?” What if? Finding that one lost sheep is, and will always be, supremely important.

His love isn’t cautious. No, it’s a love that sent His Own Son to die a gruesome death on a cross. There’s no “Plan B” with the love of God. He gives His heart so completely, so preposterously, that if refused, most would consider it irreparably broken. Yet He gives Himself away again. The recklessness of His love is seen most clearly in this – it gets Him hurt over and over. Make no mistake, our sin pains His heart. And “70 times 7” is a lot of times to have Your heart broken. Yet He opens up and allows us in every time. His love saw you when you hated Him – when all logic said, “They’ll reject me”, He said, “I don’t care if it kills me. I’m laying My heart on the line.”

To get personal, His love saw me, a broken down kid with regret as deep as the ocean; My innocence and youth poured out like water. Yet, He saw fit to use me for His kingdom because He’s just that kind. I didn’t earn it and I sure as heck don’t deserve it, but He’s just that good. Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.” – Cory Asbury (Facebook post – June 14, 2017)

If you are a songwriter declaring who God is then your lyrics are so important.  Many have asked for clarity…ok? Does this mean if I lead this song at my church or other venue then I need to give an explanation every time because the lyrics aren’t clear? Eh…

I appreciate Cory sharing his heart and I really do love so much of this song but I don’t think you can separate God from His love.  I don’t think we can say or sing that God’s love is reckless but God Himself isn’t reckless… because His Word says that God is Love!  So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 1 John 4:16 esv Actually, just read all of 1 John 4…so good! Perfect love!  How about John 3:16, Galatians 2:20?  I believe that God is Perfect, Sovereign, Holy, and completely in control; He knows exactly what He is doing, He knew exactly what the cost was when He came to die for us.  I think our “humanness” makes us see this as reckless.  And I think too many of our worship songs today try to humanize God and we just don’t sing enough about His Holiness.  And perhaps that’s partly because we can’t even begin to understand all the miraculous and marvelous things about God, His grace, His forgiveness, and His perfect love for us.

So…sing reckless love or not, I won’t condemn you 😉  I’m planning on leading it this Friday night in prison but I’m going to change one word…to Perfect.

Oh the overwhelming, never-ending, perfect love of God

And you know what else?  I think I’d like my love for Jesus to be reckless…”careless of consequences”, I believe this is what He’s called us to and it still doesn’t begin to compare with how He loves us. Oh how He loves us…

LIFE GOES ON

by Christy Hoagland

Father, thank You for catching my tears…” was the start of a prayer a young man in one of our services prayed.  His brother was in an accident and the outcome is unknown, the recovery difficult and here he is in prison, away from his family and brother.  He was able to pray for his brother over the phone and is continuing to pray that God would draw his family together and to the Father, that God would be glorified in all of this and that their lives would be changed for the good.

This story is not uncommon, life continues outside the razor wire and many on the inside struggle with not being there for their families.  They (or at least most) know that this is a consequence of their actions, their crimes but it is still difficult.

Last Christmas Eve a dad lost his daughter in a car accident, many others have lost fathers and mothers, grandparents and more.  They grieve inside the prison walls, no memorials or funerals to attend, (there was a time when they could be brought out to say goodbye but no longer possible) so they walk through it alone surrounded only by their fellow inmates.  As volunteers we have the honor to pray with them, to offer them comfort, to point them to the Savior and the only real peace they can receive.  And then we hope and we pray that they will remain strong and steadfast through their trial and not try to escape their feelings through drug use or anything else.  I’ve personally seen at least three different responses to tragedy on the inside…one young man turning to drugs after losing his parents, another angry with God and giving away his Bible, and some, like the young man above – continuing to give God praise through it all.

Life goes on while men and women are incarcerated.  Families struggle, loved ones lost, children grow up, the culture changes, relationships are lost or forgotten.  It is at these times that we, the family of God – the Church, need to be more diligent in sharing Jesus, offering hope, the Only Hope possible through a relationship with Jesus Christ – to the incarcerated, to their families on the outside and to anyone and everyone that crosses our path.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:3-9

THE OUTCOME OF THE GOSPEL

by Christy Hoagland

We have the great opportunity to see many offenders come to faith in Christ and receive this Gospel we bring to them – salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Since we do weekly services, we get to see these new lives grow – and sometimes, we get a glimpse of the precious work and effect of the Holy Spirit in one life used to change another inside and outside the razor wire.  Here are just a few of the sweet and mighty things the Lord is doing.

Just this week a young man in one of our services told me that an offender that had left prison a few months ago started serving in a church, his wife alongside him, they then visited the girlfriend of this young man and got her involved in their church and she is now teaching Sunday School in this church!

We had the honor to do an event for Alcoholics Victorious in Rolla, MO last month.  After the service, a couple told us that their son was incarcerated and had a 25 year sentence, that he found Jesus in jail and is holding Bible Studies and more in prison.  Not only that…but their son led both of them (his parents) to faith in Jesus while incarcerated!  Glory!  This couple, having just buried their daughter last year due to a heroin overdose, is serving the Lord and reaching out to others with the Gospel.

Offenders are telling their loved ones at home that they are praying and that others are praying and then they are seeing those prayers answered – faith increased!

A man we met at a Celebrate Recovery service in Monett joined our prayer team, he prays fervently for these men and their needs and has testified that his relationship with the Lord and his prayer life has been strengthened through praying for the incarcerated.

This is only the tip of the iceberg…in the last week alone we witnessed 26 or more men’s lives changed through the power of the Gospel – and we wait in anticipation to witness the continual sanctification of each one.

Chains of bondage broken, lives made new, families restored, the Gospel proclaimed, more souls Heaven bound, communities changed…and so much more – what are you waiting for?  Share the Gospel with someone today – the outcome is more glorious than you can imagine.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

“And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” Acts 5:32

“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” Romans 8:16

“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God.” 2 Timothy 1:8

A NEW WAY TO LIVE

by Christy Hoagland

Last week, at the end of one of our services, a young man, mid-twenties, surrendered his life to Jesus.  He was broken and distraught, he doesn’t know how to live any other way then what he’s known all his life.  He has two young children at home and one on the way, he doesn’t know to be a father, he doesn’t know how to work, he only knows dope – those were his words that night.  But now he has Jesus and a new way to live, one day at a time, one moment at a time.  And because of the Holy Spirit’s power in him, he is free and can stay free…and learn a new way to live.

His story is not unique, so many of these men and women in prison know no other life than addiction, abuse, jails, prisons…breaking these cycles begins with Jesus.  He is the only way to be free from the bondage of sin and when an inmate (or anyone for that matter) gives their life to Christ those chains are broken and their life really begins.  I cannot imagine how afraid some of them must feel, how difficult it must be for them to grow in their faith while evil is on every side because of where they are, while the enemy is constantly trying to bring them low, reminding them of their mistakes, to make them feel hopeless and unworthy. And here they are, trying to climb out of their old lives into this new one in Christ – filled with hope, love, grace and mercy.  It is hard for some of them to take in, to believe they can be forgiven, can really be free and have joy and a life full of abundance.  This new way to live, this new life, is possible through Jesus and a relationship with Him.  Once these men and women grab hold of that, believe and surrender, they will be free, they will be overcomers because of Christ’s work in their lives.

Picture this young man or women inside the razor wire…they finally muster up the courage to come to a chapel service in prison, they hear about this Jesus that loved them so much to die for them, take the punishment for their sin and offer them salvation, they accept this free gift and then they walk back to their cell and wonder what just happened… they now have the Holy Spirit (Glory to God!) and this hope, this immediate newness and they are overwhelmed.  Surrounding them is a vile and vulgar environment and they must block it out so they can grow in this new life.  They will be ridiculed and tempted and more.  Some will be able to stay strong through it all and some will fall and have to get back up.

And this… is why we go, to offer this freedom in Christ Jesus and to remind them they can stay free!  That they are no longer slaves to sin.  They need your help, pray for them and their families, surround them when they leave prison and come into your church, your community.  Love them like no one ever has before, if that seems difficult for you then remember what Jesus did for YOU too!  Love them like Jesus loves you!  Encourage them and remind them of their freedom only found in Jesus.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

This is why the Freedom Campaign is so important…we want these men and women to really be free, to be a light in the darkness inside of prison while they are there and a light in their families and communities when they come home.  This isn’t about us, this isn’t about money, God can make this happen without any of us or any donations from anyone…but I’m glad He chose me to be a part of it and maybe He is choosing you too.  Pray and seek Him about how He wants to use you in setting the captives free.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18

UNWORTHY SERVANTS

by Christy Hoagland

“So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” Luke 17:10

We, the Sing for the King Ministry team, is often thanked for serving the Lord.  I understand that you want to thank others for pouring into you and who are pointing you to the Savior, I have often thanked my Pastor for speaking truth into my life.  I think it’s a natural thing to thank those who are being obedient to God’s call on their lives but we are just doing what we are commanded to do…sharing Jesus.

I am constantly praying for a spirit of humility, I know that God gives grace to the humble and I want His grace over me more than anything else.  I can do nothing on my own anyway! I want to be used by Him and I can’t be used if I am prideful or boastful in myself.  None of the miraculous things we see is because of us or anything that we have done; God has granted us an amazing gift…a front row seat to His saving power, to His divine work.  We have seen many men and women come to faith in Christ and often times we only get to see that first transformation.  But once in a while we are allowed the honor to see beyond that first miracle and have the privilege to glimpse a little more of God’s marvelous work in the lives of those He saves.  After all, Philippians 1:6 says “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”  Here’s one of those miracles, we received this message recently:

“Happy Greetings! I just wanted to share something with you. While I was at Algoa I adored and anticipated Sing for the King each Friday. The difference the Lord made in my life through you and your ministry there continues! So I also was in a step-program. One of my sponsees wrote me last week. He told me that after I left (just 30 days ago) he finally surrendered and went to your Friday night service. And this passed week, he was BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He is now alive and happy and sharing what has happened in his life with others. What a long way God has brought him from where he once was just a few months ago. When I got to Algoa and decided to hit meetings and chapel every chance I got, I had no idea what God was about to do. I was absolutely NOT going to open up to another guy in grays. I was not going to share deep personal stuff with another fellow felon. Well, you see God knew me. Better than I knew myself. And he knows that in everything I have to go all in or let it go. And I did. I worked the steps. I became the secretary and a sponsor.  I became vulnerable and willing. And God softened my heart and gave me eyes to see others like he sees them. Beautiful. I couldn’t help but look at this young man and see God loved him and he needed to know it. That I had something in my life that was bubbling up out of me and I could not keep it to myself. I found the way to break every chain. The way to conquer fear, cuz it’s a liar. From victim to victorious. I shared just the right portion as I let the Lord lead me, telling him about some very personal things from my past. Things the devil used to shame me. To hide it. To isolate. To go full on introvert mode. Well, I took the chance. I shared my story. And that night he went to the step-program with me and within days his transformation was obvious. After my moving on, he continued working the program, he continued sharing his own story. He finally accepted God and now has the blessing of sharing it with many others. He is now a sponsor, he is now blessed with the mercy and grace that only comes from Jesus Christ, he attends chapel, he is baptized, he is alive…for the first time in his life. He is impacting other guys in gray, he told me that many guys come to meetings and chapel now (in just 30 days!!!!!!) because of him and his willingness to share with them. God poured into my life. It overflowed into his. And now it flows into many others. Guys in gray. Thank you. I feel God want me to share with you many things. So much is happening in my life, at times I have trouble believing it. Man, it’s just amazing what he is doing. I’m refusing to let doubt, strange emotions, etc control me. Instead I am standing on the promises of God. The TRUTH. I am reflecting on what he has done for me. Who am I to discount any of that? God loved ME, a guy who was once in gray, that HE came to earth as Jesus Christ and walked into his own story and died on the cross, bleeding out to purify a guy like me. For all the men and women he dreamed up and created. So that we, mere human beings, some of us even going gray (or bald hee hee) can be redeemed. We have hope. We have grace. We have mercy. No longer slaves. I am a child of God. And the joy that floods my soul I just cannot contain. He saved me from the cancer of myself. He rescued me from a pit. He healed my body, my mind and my spirit. As he continues to reveal to me, it just spills out, His love, His sweetness, His Kingship, it envelopes me and I just gotta put a stamp on it and send it out to others. Cool thought: God works in each life at just the right speed. For some it is lightning fast like email, text, messaging, and others it is more like snail mail. Doesn’t matter. When the student is ready, the teacher walks in. I love you. I love your ministry. And I love how the love of Jesus, of God himself flows from your hearts. And it BREAKS EVERY CHAIN! In church when they sing some of the songs we sang at Algoa I can’t help but tear up and wanna shout VICTORY!” – Former Offender, D.

I hope this encourages you to step out boldly for Jesus, the One who saved you, and share His story and yours…how He has changed you.  He wants to use you, for His Glory, for His Kingdom!  And just maybe, He will give you a sweet glimpse into His remarkable handiwork…we cannot even imagine it!

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 1 Corinthians 2:9

REAL LOVE

by Christy Hoagland

Love….it seems like a common theme in the posts I’ve written but it is anything but common.  God’s love for me, for the men we minister to, and the people we meet continues to overwhelm me.  The Gospel overwhelms me – God’s love shown to me, to us by sending His Son to pay for my sin, your sin.  This is Real Love.

The month of October was intense, we were in 8 different prisons around the state and God poured out His love in the institutions, drew at least 87 men to Himself, and strengthened the faith of countless more.  I could probably write a hundred stories but I will simply tell a few.

At Ozark Correctional Center in mid-October we held a Yard Event with some musicians, James preaching, and Johnny testifying…12 men surrendered their lives to Christ! And, we had pictures taken during the event, unfortunately we were not able to have any with offenders but we are grateful nonetheless.

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The following weekend we traveled to St. Joe, MO to do two prison concerts on Saturday.  We brought some special guests and saw several more lives come to the Lord.

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On Sunday, James, Johnny and I held a service in Maryville.  Several offenders from other prisons we minister in had been transferred there for treatment.  It was so good to see them still standing strong in their faith and hearing their stories how God is using them.  The service was incredible, it certainly wasn’t about anything we did, God was revealing Himself, His truth to these men and 16 came to faith in Jesus.  The chaplain cried, we cried, the men cried…we were in awe of God’s power and His marvelous grace.  We’ve been invited back to take part in a baptism service for these new lives at the end of this month…wow, God!  Thank You!

A few days later and we were back at Algoa Correctional for a baptism service.  27 men were baptized!  Several different ministries all came together for this baptism, God’s family.  A couple testimonies from the men being baptized really touched me.  A large black man shared how he had been searching for real love; he had encountered carnal love, puppy love, lust, etc, etc but he had finally experienced real love in the person of Jesus Christ, in God sending His Son for him.  Another gentleman had been in the military and had done two tours in Iraq.  When he came home he was having trouble dealing with the things he had done and his life began to spiral out of control and he ended up in prison.  It was through surrendering his life to Christ that set him free from his past and gave him peace.  One man sat in the baptistry and just wept.  So many more miracles and stories, each one precious and full of God’s grace.

On the last Sunday evening in October we drove to MECC in Pacific, MO.  These men were so hungry for the Word, for love, for hope and they were so very sweet, they applauded after every single song, prayer, the reading of scripture, everything!  And at the end of the night 9 men found real love, real hope through Jesus Christ.  The chaplain invited us to have a quarterly spot…how good is God!

Our regular services throughout the month were just as miraculous, 7 salvations at the maximum security prison in Jefferson City and many more at Algoa, KCRC, and Boonville.  God’s LOVE, His GOSPEL is being proclaimed and lives are being changed.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

I don’t know why God has called me to prison ministry but He has given me a special love for these offenders.  I want them to experience “real love” through a relationship with Jesus Christ.  I want them to know that I love them and that there are others that do too.  And I want them to love others and share their new found faith, His Love with those around them.

Who are you sharing real love with today?